I believe there is a good foundation for using driving habits and traffic in general as benchmarks of societal progress.

Meaning, I think you can learn essentially all you need to know about a developed society by observing its traffic. At a macro level, comparing the habits of drivers in say Japan to those in Houston, Texas will be an absolute study in contrasts. But I think you can also get down to the micro level, comparing the habits of individual drivers, to determine societal trends. Speed, following distance, planning ahead, using turn signals. I think it could tell you everything about that society from education to tolerance and respect of others to valuation of personal wealth. 

A friend of mine is a professor of ethnomusicology at Vanderbilt. He thinks music, and really all art, is the ultimate indicator of societal progress. I propose we add traffic studies to the list.