File this under “People Are Jerks”


You know, many species of turtles are in trouble; they’re just slowly dying off. So one Clemson student, Nathan Weaver, did a very simple experiment: he watched what happens when a turtle crosses the road.

Weaver put a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus. Then he got out of the way and watched over the next hour as seven drivers swerved and deliberately ran over the animal. Several more apparently tried to hit it but missed.

What? People intentionally run over small animals on the road? I’ve been doing it wrong: I hit the brakes or swerve to avoid them, and there have been a couple of times I’ve stopped and carried a turtle across the road.

I’m rather appalled that anyone would think it entertaining to squash turtles just for the hell of it.

Comments

  1. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Develop rubber turtles which deploy six inch spikes when struck or compressed. Prosecute anyone who tries to sue for the damage to their tire for animal cruelty.

  2. Nepenthe says

    My parents’ house is in a swamp. I’m glad that there’s no traffic on their road, because there are lots of very determined turtles. Sometimes I stop and move the same turtle multiple times a day.

    People suck. They apparently do this to snakes too.

  3. says

    People here in ND try to hit animals of all kinds intentionally. Lot of assholes out there. We both stop if we see a turtle in the road and move it, we’ve seen too many run over. Same with snakes – people are utterly stupid when it comes to snakes.

  4. says

    Azkyroth:

    Develop rubber turtles which deploy six inch spikes when struck or compressed. Prosecute anyone who tries to sue for the damage to their tire for animal cruelty.

    An excellent idea.

  5. waydude says

    I read that earlier, that’s horrible. I couldn’t believe people were actually serving to hit them on purpose. Wtf, really?! That being said, sometimes you have to be careful about swerving or stopping for small animals in case you cause a bigger accident. Following a friend late one night through Nevada on the way to Yosemite, a jackrabbit ran across the highway right in front of my buddy’s car. Well, it was late, we’re speeding, and swerving could end up really bad, so he gritted his teeth and drove straight. Sure enough, the poor thing ran right under the rear wheel and was promptly dissected. It was a sad and surreal moment.

  6. serena says

    Perhaps something more like a high-speed camera (akin to the ones used for traffic light tickets or in-the-wild biology studies) mounted nearby, and a rubber or foam animal decoy designed to be the *least* impedance on the road.
    While I understand the satisfaction you may feel by deploying these turtle-shaped caltrops, I believe any plans to sue the ‘victim’ for animal cruelty will proceed somewhat later than the reckless endangerment charges that would be upon you.

  7. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    That being said, sometimes you have to be careful about swerving or stopping for small animals in case you cause a bigger accident.

    This unfortunately is true. Ditto for most large animals, notably excepting moose. My ex supposedly did about $5000 worth of damage to the undercarriage of her car after swerving to avoid a rabbit (there is at least a 1% chance this actually happened and she wasn’t just driving drunk again).

  8. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    While I understand the satisfaction you may feel by deploying these turtle-shaped caltrops, I believe any plans to sue the ‘victim’ for animal cruelty will proceed somewhat later than the reckless endangerment charges that would be upon you.

    I didn’t say “sue,” I said prosecute, and making it dangerous for people to do illegal and destructive things is a public good.

    Why do you hate turtles?

  9. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Hell, all the appropriate agency would have to do is put up signs explaining the program exists and attempting to deliberately run over an animal constitutes acceptance of fully responsibility for any resulting damage. It works for scumbag corporations to protect themselves from having to take responsibility for negligent harm, why shouldn’t it be used to do something good for a change?

  10. says

    The. Fuck?

    I hit a deer once. Car was a writeoff, I got off unscratched, deer was just… Seriously, don’t ask what the deer was.

    It took it longer to die than it seems, in retrospect, it should have. Me listening the whole long time while the police came to end its very audible misery, thinking, guiltily, geez, should I just steel myself, borrow something blunt and heavy from the house I called them from, try to end this myself? That’s all they can do anyway, right? Am I being a wimp, here? Will there be trouble if I do? Fucking hell, how can I even care… That sounds awful.

    To borrow a line from Jayne Cobb, where’s that get fun?

  11. says

    Azkyroth:

    Hell, all the appropriate agency would have to do is put up signs explaining the program exists and attempting to deliberately run over an animal constitutes acceptance of fully responsibility for any resulting damage.

    Hell, you could put up signs with letters 3 foot high, in neon, saying “deliberate attempts to run over an animal may result in vehicle damage” and you’d still have assholes trying to run them over.

  12. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    I’ll never forget the rage I felt 30 years ago when I saw a large snapping turtle get run over by an asshole who clearly deliberately aimed at the turtle. I was already slowing down to move the turtle. [This was in Rhode Island, where everyone carried a shovel during winter. I just never took the shovel out, and could have moved the turtle with it. Come to think of it, I did; the turtle was still alive, although with a badly cracked shell, probably dieing.] On an other day, still in RI, both my housemate and I, independently, stopped on the way into work, via different routes, and picked up turtles (different species, even) out of the road to release them later. And I’ve continued to do so over the years. Here in FL, I’ve moved gopher tortoises, soft shelled turtles, box turtles, and various other water turtles.

    I first realized that not everyone felt like this upon reading the Grapes of Wrath in high school (?). There’s a couple of places in the book where the characters calmly and deliberately swerve to run over animals in the road.

  13. coyotenose says

    AJ Milne @ 15: I hit a deer also, and I understand the guilt. “Thankfully” it stuck its head in front of my fender, so it died very shortly after I got turned back around. I don’t know what I would have done if it had still been alive for this reason: A wounded, terrified deer is extremely dangerous to go near, even a small one, even one that can’t stand up. If you tried to put it out of its misery with a club and no idea what you’re doing, you’d probably make things worse for it and might eat a shattered jaw to boot.

    Goddamn it. I saw that deer ten feet from the road long before I reached it, slowed way down and moved into the middle of the road just to be safe, and then it ran out from cover and over to me to get hit.

  14. Tony ∞The Queer Shoop∞ says

    The hell??
    I recall seeing a turtle slowly crossing the road in front of my car a few years ago and I picked hir up and found a creek close by for drop off. I do not understand why people treat animals so horribly.

  15. says

    When people wonder why I’m so cynical about humanity, this is the kind of thing I point to.

    Here’s some mind-bleach for you, though.

    Red Eared Slider

    It’s a turtle I found crossing US highway 90 near my house one spring. I picked it up and carried it across, but not before getting it’s picture. I do a little wildlife photography and turtles are wonderfully cooperative models!

  16. says

    Develop rubber turtles which deploy six inch spikes when struck or compressed. Prosecute anyone who tries to sue for the damage to their tire for animal cruelty.

    Just make sure to put them in the middle of the road, out of normal driving patterns, to remove any ‘it was an accident’ type of thing.

    Hell, you could put up signs with letters 3 foot high, in neon, saying “deliberate attempts to run over an animal may result in vehicle damage” and you’d still have assholes trying to run them over.

    You could, but I bet that even those assholes would learn after enough tire replacements.

  17. serena says

    All I was suggesting is a less dangerous way to convey such a message. If you want to strawman that into ‘you hate turtles’ you’re certainly welcome to that, however my original post was worded intentionally soft. I shall clarify:
    “Prosecute anyone who tries to sue for the damage to their tire for animal cruelty.” Good luck with that. Entrapment and reckless endangerment will take precedence over something the courts will not-at-all consider animal cruelty. If this were possible, movie productions would not be have to substitute stuffed animals when filming ‘dangerous’ scenes (hypothetical example; a slapstick comedy wherein someone chokes a dog that has bitten his face -disclaimer-HYPOTHETICAL-I do not endorse-disclaimer).

    Creating dangerous road obstacles is a crime. This is not the way to educate people. I was suggesting a safer way to implement an idiotic idea, and for that I am sorry.

  18. coyotenose says

    I try to avoid animals (and carry turtles off the road when I see them), but it’s a semi-rural area and I go to work at 3-4 a.m. I have hit a deer, rabbits, a skunk, a possum, and motherfuck, two kittens that ran out in front of me and just stopped. But I came across a dead copperhead snake close to home once. Someone had already hit it, but I slowed down to make sure it was dead and not wounded. If I had been the first to see it, yes I would have tried to hit it and gone back to make sure. It was by far the biggest copperhead I’ve ever seen, and was in the middle of a backroads neighborhood with 15+ kids, ages about 3-8, who played outdoors all the time. I’d have killed it if I could, then gone home and thrown up. I cried when an orphaned wild mouse died in my hand last month; crushing something on purpose is horrifying.

  19. says

    coyotenose:

    It was by far the biggest copperhead I’ve ever seen, and was in the middle of a backroads neighborhood with 15+ kids, ages about 3-8, who played outdoors all the time.

    I live rural. People who live rural and have children should educate those children, rather than teaching “scary! scream and go kill” ffs. I have little tolerance for such attitudes. From what I see around here, too many assholes arm their kids and teach them that killing for no reason whatsoever is just grand.

  20. says

    I am completely unsurprised. Fox hunting still goes on in Britain, right? Americans still chase animals in their snowmobiles. And I’ve seen plenty of rural kids in pickup trucks swerve to try to hit rabbits on county roads. Fun for the entire family, don’t you know? It’s revolting, but all too common.

  21. Rike says

    Where we are spending the Winter here in Arizona, it’s the other way around: A lot of the area is free range, and it seems that the cows in the road are swerving on purpose to hit the cars.
    Don’t believe it? I have photos of our totaled car! In our case, the cow insisted on using our vehicle to commit suicide.

  22. serena says

    If you don’t see the danger in placing intentionally tire-damaging turtle-shaped caltrops in the road, you are not terribly swift either.

  23. Azuma Hazuki says

    …why? I read about this elsewhere earlier and all I can think is “Why? Why would someone do this? How is this going to make anyone happy?”

  24. serena says

    In fact, both Texas and Illinois have laws banning the possession of tire puncturing devices. But I don’t need to clarify something like that, do I? We’re all about checking our facts here right? Or knee-jerk reactions to the horrible treatment of wild animals by much of the populace?

    How about a solution that doesn’t involve breach of law on top of reckless endangerment?

  25. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    I may have overreacted; the abuse of rules to protect horrible people is a longstanding trigger.

    I suppose ensuring that the spike design would cause a slowish-leak puncture rather than a catastrophic blowout would be in order, yes. Also, I like the suggestion of placing them outside of the normal path of travel – I was probably taking that for granted, but then was seeing red and don’t really remember. That, combined with the signs, should render this fairly guiltless, though it’d probably be better undertaken by an agency with some authority…

  26. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Jebus fucking christ, serena. I think it is utterly pathetic that you even need to be told this, but no one is seriously talking about putting spikes out on the road.

    You are dense as fuck

  27. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    How about a solution that doesn’t involve breach of law

    Why not just fix the law?

    Also, it’s hardly reckless endangerment if people A) are made aware that the risk exists and B) choose to do it anyway. I mean, that’s one step up from saying it’s “reckless endangerment” to have trees within a few hundred feet of the road because someone might hit them if they were driving drunk and be fatally injured rather than landing in a field which they’d be more likely to survive.

  28. says

    @coyotenose 23

    If I had been the first to see it, yes I would have tried to hit it and gone back to make sure. It was by far the biggest copperhead I’ve ever seen, and was in the middle of a backroads neighborhood with 15+ kids, ages about 3-8, who played outdoors all the time.

    Please don’t kill snakes! Copperheads in particular are very shy snakes and not agressive. The kids in your neighborhood are perfectly safe, really. All you need to do is teach kids to simply walk away if they see a snake that might be a copperhead.

    Check this out. It’s wikipedia’s page on snake bite deaths in the US:

    List of fatal snake bites in the United States

    The list is incomplete but still gives an accurate impression.If you follow the links in the references section you’ll see that there is only about 1 death per year in the US from snake bites, and only about 8000 bites per year total.

    There is really no reason at all for the average person to be worried about snakes, and certainly no reason to go around killing them. Humanity is doing enough harm to the Earth and it’s other species as things stand, so please don’t contribute to the problem by killing out of unfounded fears.

  29. says

    Serena: I did not get the impression that Azkyroth was serious in his first post. It seemed like a sarcastic joke to me.

    Azkyroth: Were you serious?

  30. says

    All you need to do is teach kids to simply walk away if they see a snake that might be a copperhead.

    They also need to be taught that snakes don’t much care to be tortured and like all animals, including humans, will attempt to defend themselves.

  31. tamsenmc says

    I always hit the brakes when animals run/fly/walk in front of my vehicle. Birds love to zip across right in front of the vehicles about 2 feet off the ground.

    This summer I was biking home and spotted a little baby bird in the road. I had to stop myself from stepping out into traffic (I probably wouldn’t have been run over, but I’m always ranting about how people trust their life to a complete stranger when they step out without even looking.) Thinking back afterward, I think the next person may have tried to intentionally hit it, but he missed. I hope I moved it far enough off the road and I hope mom found it. It was so cute.

    I’ve stopped a few times for porcupines. One of them started to come over and check out my car, but when I rolled down my window it spooked.

  32. says

    I wonder if at least some of those people swerved to miss it, and hit it by accident?
    I know I have done this more times than I would like to admit (thankfully, not animals). I can’t always tell where the wheels are.

    More likely, people SUCK.

    (sorry about the long name, anyone know how to change it)

  33. says

    My mistake for assuming people say what they mean. *shrug*

    Yes, actually, I’m afraid it is a mistake. The internet is filled with snark, sarcasm, satire, and just plain trolls. But a lot of the time it’s hard to tell the difference. Sometimes smilies can help make it obvious when someone is joking, but it’s generally best to simply ask people if they are serious when they make seemingly outlandish remarks.

  34. jo1storm says

    Damn you, Super Mario Kart, damn you to hell!

    What do those bleeding-hear environmentalists want? That’s MAN’s road, MAN made them, no other creature shall walk them! I think it’s written in the Bible somewhere!

    In all seriousness, this is very disturbing. I mean, I know that you sometimes have to hit an animal if you can’t evade it and there’s a good chance that swerving, suddenly slowing down or stopping would endanger lives, but damn. To bloody aim at animal crossing the road? WTF is wrong with those people?

    On happier but unrelated note, I have read on cracked.com (I can’t find the article thought) that they did a research in UK about hedgehogs. 90%+ of them don’t curl up on seeing the sudden bright light anymore (such can be found on the road during the night). 75 years ago, when similar research was made, that number was less than 10%.

  35. jo1storm says

    Above “what those bleeding-heart etc” comment was hidden in [/sarcasm quotes]. Does anyone know what happened to them?

  36. says

    (sorry about the long name, anyone know how to change it)

    Click on your nym right above the reply box. That should take you to your dashboard, where you can change it. Be sure to scroll down and click ‘save’ or ‘update’ or whatever it is.

  37. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    Eris Caffee, I hate emoticons. I hated those damned smiley faces when I was a child in the seventies and that hatred has not faded.

    But here is something that does work, recognized the people who are commenting. Azkyroth is a long time regular here. Hell, PZ played along with Azkyroth’s gag. And a number of people pointed out that Azkyroth was joking. That should be enough.

  38. nichodeemous says

    I’m sort of wondering if he logged the makes and models of the vehicles that intentionally ran over the rubber turtle. I’m curious if there is a clear difference in the likelihood of someone intentionally trying to run over a turtle based on what they drive. I’m sure there would have to be a lot more data compiled to shake out a clear “winner,” but it does have me wondering if there is a vehicle of choice for dickbrained ass-ferrets.

  39. Nepenthe says

    @nichodeemous

    In the informal study that michaeld links to, ~90% of assfaces drive SUVs or trucks.

  40. says

    I’m sort of wondering if he logged the makes and models of the vehicles that intentionally ran over the rubber turtle

    Actually yes. It turns out that everyone who intentionally drove over the turtle was driving a Canyonero.

    12 yards long, 2 lanes wide, 65 tons of American pride! Canyonero! Canyonero!
    Top of the line in utility sports, Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts! Canyonero! Canyonero!
    She blinds everybody with her super high beams, She’s a squirrel-squashin’, deer-smackin’ drivin’ machine, Canyonero! Canyonero!

  41. McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there. says

    Hell is other people…who are guilty of driving while redneck (DWR).

  42. says

    nichodeemous:

    dickbrained ass-ferrets.

    Ass-ferrets is dandy (although, what did ferrets ever do to you?*), however, we avoid gender-based insults here, so that’s a no on the ‘dickbrained’.

    *Ferrets be cool, ya know? ;D

  43. says

    Nepenthe:

    In the informal study that michaeld links to, ~90% of assfaces drive SUVs or trucks.

    That’s what you find in rural places. We have both. However, we are turtle rescuers, not turtle squashers.

  44. nichodeemous says

    Change that to “Fuckbrained Ass-weasels” I suppose. Forgot about the gender rule. Sorry in advance to the National Weasel Lobby and Pauly Shore enthusiasts.

    Good to know about the informal study. I am surprised that mini vans don’t do better (worse?) in that study, as it has been my subjective experience that six out of every seven mini van drivers has been sent to kill me.

  45. Nepenthe says

    @Caine

    True that. I had thought of this, but decided to be brief. I drive a crossover of a type that is creepily popular* in an area of turtle rescuers and general nature lovers, so I should know better.

    (There are at least 4 people at my university with the same make/model/color as mine. If it weren’t for my FSM decal I would regularly attempt to steal cars.)

  46. Janine: Hallucinating Liar says

    When I worked as a bike messenger, while I was watched out for everyone, it were the people in the SUVs that I really had to be careful of. On many occasions, I had them cursing at me when it was their fault for almost hitting me. My favorite was the man in the SUV who made a turn withing stopping, almost hitting me. I swore at him very loudly as well as flipping him off for almost killing me. He stopped his SUV in the middle of traffic and jumped out and demanded that I come back and fight.

    Why that fuck would I want to take part of such macho bullshit?

  47. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    It’s really depressing just how common this type of horseshit is. And it’s not just animals that these people might not be able to empathize with, either. I’ve heard fuckers brag about running down cats and dogs, and have had several friends tell me stories of seeing people swerve to hit them.

    Fuck people.

  48. rq says

    Poor turtles. :( Did none of them watch the Teenaged Mutant variety while growing up? No soft feelings for the hard-shelled critters?
    Also, it seems like an easy out, running over slow-running turtles. If they really want a challenge for their car-aiming skills, why not try something faster – a bird flying across the road, a large running deer, you know, something they actually have to chase around the road…?
    The cowards.
    And, by the way, I believe that actively swerving to hit something on the road is already an act endangering the traffic around you, because you are unexpectedly departing from your expected trajectory. Adding some spikes to that rubber turtle, with warning sign, would just provide some consequence for such reckless action.

  49. StevoR says

    I’m rather appalled that anyone would think it entertaining to squash turtles just for the hell of it.

    Yup. Me too.

  50. gardengnome says

    When the great white hunter hasn’t got time to reach for his gun he’s gotta improvise…

  51. says

    I hit a squirrel once – I was driving WAY too fast down good old HWY 46 (OT, not far from where James Deans met his end). The poor little guy ran out into the middle of road right in front of me. I had absolutely no choice – swerve into a ditch or oncoming traffic (busy holiday traffic). Needless to say, I felt bad for it. Granted a few hours later I was on the receiving end of a $600 speeding ticket, which I deserved. I swear I felt bad the moment it happened, or more accurately, the moment I knew I didn’t have much of a choice.

  52. says

    I live rural. People who live rural and have children should educate those children, rather than teaching “scary! scream and go kill” ffs

    Quoted for truth. I lived growing up with Western Diamondbacks* all over the place. No one I ever knew came remotely close to being bit, although there are stories of my sister “playing” with one. We also made sure not to kill them.

    *Most common where Crotalus ruber, but the area was quickly going from somewhat rural to suburban, so they all began to disappear.

  53. maddog1129 says

    @sc-something #40

    I actually had that question too. I remember reading something about safety tips for bicyclists to the effect that if you see a bike hazard in the road, path or trail, DO NOT look at the hazard, because you will tend to steer at what you are looking at. Instead, look at/for the clear path around the obstacle. So I was wondering how the experimenters could tell if the driver was steering at the turtle with the purpose of harming it, or if the intention was to avoid the turtle, but the execution was poor because of visual perseverance or something.

  54. otrame says

    People who do that sort of thing are 1) feeling powerless, AND 2) have severely imparted empathy. Hitting the animal gives them a sense of power, of control, and they have no idea why anyone would care.

    BTW with turtles, if you are going to move them off the road, don’t move them away from the area. Just put them well off the road in the direction they were going. And as close to the same “line” they were traveling as possible.

    But DON’T put yourself in danger to do it. You can’t fix everything and if you get yourself killed trying to move a turtle you can’t fix anything.

  55. brucegorton says

    I live rural. People who live rural and have children should educate those children, rather than teaching “scary! scream and go kill” ffs

    Agreed. I would add spiders in there too. The lesson with a dangerous spider isn’t “kill it,” its “You are too big for it to see you as a potential meal, with most dangerous species they will only bite you if you are bothering them so leave them to eat the mosquitos in peace.”

  56. says

    brucegorton:

    The lesson with a dangerous spider isn’t “kill it,” its “You are too big for it to see you as a potential meal, with most dangerous species they will only bite you if you are bothering them so leave them to eat the mosquitos in peace.”

    Yep. Our house is spider friendly. The lesson goes with pretty much any critter. I get incredibly tired of the whole “eek, kill it!” response. Education, it’s everyone’s friend.

  57. says

    Once, I had lost a bicycle (the rack it was on broke) in a left lane of a not-so-busy highway, and I returned for it. I was about 5′ from it and a car plowed through it. They didn’t swerve from me, or even seem to notice THE BRIGHT ORANGE PERSON AND BRIGHT YELLOW BICYCLE in the road.

    It was very frustrating, I could’ve at least recovered some of the parts, but once it was smashed, I couldn’t even cart it safely from the road.

  58. lesliegriffiths says

    @Zeno – “Fox hunting still goes on in Britain, right?”

    Not legally. Hunting with dogs has been banned in the UK since 2005. (which effectively means fox hunting is also illegal as it’s generally carried out with dogs )

    There has been some talk in the past few days re overturning the relevant act, but it’s unlikely to be repealed as the act has broad popular support and the people who were adversely affected by the act (i.e., they couldn’t go out and cause a wild animal suffering for their entertainment) are a small minority.

  59. says

    I once crashed into a galah. It was quite disturbing. I won’t say ran over, because I was on a motorbike and it thwacked me in the chest. Most birds fly away out of your path, so keeping to the straight line is best even if it’s aimed at them. Galahs, though, are amazingly stupid.

  60. roland says

    I never know exactly where my wheels are. Whenever I try to avoid a hole in the road I always end up going right through it, which from the outside might look as if that was my aim.

  61. blorf says

    How about signs and paint bombs? Put the “turtle” dead center of the lane, or better yet on the shoulder, with a bank style dye pack full of neon paint. Pull over anyone with the paint and look at the splash pattern to prove exactly where in the lane they were.

  62. says

    Now I’m really upset, almost sobbing.

    Several years ago I saw a turtle crossing a road. I wanted to stop and rescue it, but there was literally nowhere to stop down the road that wasn’t a) a ditch, b) someone’s driveway, or c) several hundred yards down the road.

    :( I couldn’t save it… and it probably got smashed.

  63. says

    Around here, you see a lot of groundhogs on the side of the road, scarfing up french fries and whatnot that slobs throw out their car windows. People make sport out of nailing the poor things when they see one. I hate most people.

  64. Krasnaya Koshka says

    This is horrifying. I can’t believe people would actively try to hit an animal. Hitting animals is a horrid feeling, for gourd’s sake.

    We went on a driving tour of Alaska last year and were repeatedly dive-bombed by magpies. We narrowly missed most of them but some ran smack into us and then disappeared into the woods. One smashed into my (the passenger side) door and flopped on to the road. There was no one around so we stopped to check it. It was dead, poor thing. It got to be so when I’d see the flutter of black and white on the side of the road, I’d cringe and nearly panic. It was really scary.

  65. zb24601 says

    Recently I was in the parking lot of a strip mall that has very little traffic, mainly because most of the stores have been taken over by a church, so there isn’t much activity during the week. I was giving bread to the dinosaurs (birds) because they don’t have jobs. I was well away from where traffic should have been driving. A woman in a car swerved well out of her way to run through the birds on the ground, and one didn’t make it out of her way and was crushed. I noticed her license plate said “GOD7FAM”, i.e., GOD > FAM, or God is greater than Family. I guess she thinks her god put the birds here for her to have fun killing needlessly. She was leaving the parking lot. If she had been entering and stopping, she woul have returned to find that dead bird on her car, near the driver’s door.

  66. says

    Kat Lorraine:

    But I could have helped it. I could have stopped in the parking lot of the building at the end of the road and hiked all the way back down the road to where the turtle was and picked it up and put it into its little pond.

    There’s nothing for it now. Whenever you help a turtle these days, you can thank that turtle for inspiring you to be more turtle thoughtful, right?

  67. says

    Since I live in FL this wasn’t a surprise to me. The more rural roads are littered with dead tortoises and turtles, and you can tell not all of them were accidents. I’ve met with more than one angry redneck because I stopped to move a turtle. And we’re talking gopher tortoises here. The State of Florida had to pass a law to provide penalties for paving over active gopher tortoise dens, because people were cheerfully doing that too. Macho rednecks with huge trucks in Lake County just love doing this crap, and every time I see it I die a little inside.

  68. dianne says

    This is why we need self-driving cars. The deassholifying of humanity is a long term project, at best, but a car can at least be programed not to intentionally hit turtles.

    Re SUVs: People driving SUVs in rural areas where the roads are crappy and there’s apt to be unplowed snow or mud all over them are one thing, people driving them in the middle of New York Fucking City are another. I’d like to get private cars out of Manhattan altogether and sin tax SUVs to the point where you simply don’t buy them if you live in a city. (People in rural areas have the sin taxes waived on the grounds of SUVs being necessary rather than a show of how rich you are.)

  69. Matt Penfold says

    In the UK SUVs (normally called 4x4s) are often called Chelsea Tractors, on account of them being so popular in that rich inner-London borough.

    You can always tell those who really need a 4×4, as they will the ones driving around in one caked in mud.

  70. hexidecima says

    You are a kind soul, PZ, at least to critters who deserve it. We had two ponds on the farm where I grew up that were seperated by a road. People would indeed try to kill the snapping turtles that crossed. And my mom, a kind soul that you do *not* want to rile by hurting something, would carry many of them across the road on a shovel.

  71. says

    In many jurisdictions, it is already illegal (often just a misdemeanor, but still) to deliberately kill animals. The problem is A) “It just darted out in front of me.” B) “I didn’t see it.” C) “It wasn’t me, it was like that when I got here.” Getting a prosecution is very, very difficult.

    Rather than spikes, how about something that explodes with enamel paint? Something that is crimson when fresh, dries to a dull terra cotta, and very difficult to remove?

  72. procyon says

    “I’ve heard fuckers brag about running down cats and dogs, and have had several friends tell me stories of seeing people swerve to hit them.’
    Sad but true. I am convinced some people actually get a thrill out of hitting cats with their cars. Hard to fathom.

  73. duckdog says

    I’m guessing the number of people who did this wasn’t significant in proportion to the sample set. Given it was South Carolina, many more probably pulled over, whipped out their handgun and riddled the turtle with holes.

  74. says

    Rory, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that Floridians aim for turtles since, from my experience living there, I learned that they also aim for pedestrians and bicyclists.

    I can’t recall how many times as a pedestrian I had things hurled out of truck windows at me, was deliberately cayused to jump into the ditch… and even had SUV drivers scream at me and in two cases play chicken with me, their vehicle against my sneakers, aiming for me and “daring” me to continue as I was crossing when the “walk” light was lit.

    You couldn’t pay me to live there again.

  75. ancienttechie says

    I live in east central Indiana. Someone drove onto our lawn in order to run over a puppy. People are jerks.

  76. Larry says

    I recently moved to rural upstate NY which is full of deer, and everyone has told me that swerving to avoid a deer is the most dangerous thing you can do. All of our roads are 1 lane in each direction and most animals tend to cross the road at dusk or night. In winter at night, the center of the road and shoulders might not be as well plowed as the lanes and you could end up skidding off the road. If you panic and swerve, you might hit an oncoming car or go off the road (there’s no guard rails anywhere). Even jamming on the brakes can be dangerous depending on road conditions and how close behind you the next car is. The advice they gave was that if there isn’t time to stop, or it’s not safe to stop, just try to hit the deer as safely as possible and to hope the deer isn’t too badly injured and your car isn’t too badly damaged. I’d assume the same logic applies for not swerving or unsafely jamming on the brakes to avoid a turtle or any other animal.

  77. freethinkercro says

    People are stupid when it comes to snakes. I recall long ago before I started grad school, I was in charge of maintenance at a small county park. I had two summer workers – real tough kids. But they were scared to death of snakes. Every time they saw one they would try to kill it with whatever tool they happened to be carrying. And this was an area with no native venomous snakes. I had to have several talks with them about not disturbing local wildlife.

  78. says

    I always knew people did things like this, and have rescued lots of turtles. But, about ten years ago, I was driving across Nebraska and saw a box turtle on the highway. At the time, I didn’t know they were fairly common there; not that that really mattered. I turned around and drove back, parked on the other side of the highway, well off the road, and started walking toward the turtle. A semi-truck passed me and swerved well out of its way to squash the turtle. I thought at first that maybe it swerved in order to miss me, which made me feel responsible, and terrible. But after thinking about it, that just didn’t make sense from the facts of the scene. If I was responsible at all, it was because I made the driver realize there was something to run over nearby. The thing is, it swerved so sharply that it was obvious the driver nearly lost control of the vehicle. Literally, a stupid jerk.

    Now I live near the Mississippi River, and often cross a bridge over it between my home and the town in Minnesota where I work. I’ve rescued many turtles, some of them huge snappers (I just grab them by their tails, high enough up toward the shell to avoid damage). I’ve seen lots of other folks do it, too. And, though I’ve seen some dead ones on the road, they’ve almost always been right in the traffic corridor; not in a place where someone obviously killed them on purpose. I’ve also seen lots of folks swerve to avoid hitting them. I like to think I now live in a place where they are valued.

    The snappers sure demand respect. Even the cute little ones don’t take any shit, and the big ones look so primeval and are fearless. I once found a giant one upside down on a road in central Minnesota, with a little blood coming out of its mouth. It had clearly been hit. I gently turned it over and dragged it to the side of the road. It turned around and came at me. I thought I must have pointed it the wrong way, and it was just heading back the way it wanted to got, but no. When I turned out of its path, it followed me, with its mouth open. It didn’t seem about to die, so I left, probably quicker than necessary. Okay, I ran.

  79. Anthony K says

    That being said, sometimes you have to be careful about swerving or stopping for small animals in case you cause a bigger accident.

    So?

    People suck. Fuck ‘em if a couple die because I’m swerving to avoid a bird. It’s not like the world is short of humans.

  80. left0ver1under says

    Azkyroth (#3) and PZ Myers (#5) –

    There’s something similar in Alaska where cops set up fake moose near the side of roads. It’s illegal to shoot animals from the road, and they catch plenty of “hunters” pulling out their guns, then claiming not to be hunting or being oblivious of the law.

    If the spikes in the fake turtles are the same as those used in spike strips (slow deflation, not explosion), I’d be all for it.

    —–

    waydude (#8)

    That being said, sometimes you have to be careful about swerving or stopping for small animals in case you cause a bigger accident. Following a friend late one night through Nevada on the way to Yosemite, a jackrabbit ran across the highway right in front of my buddy’s car. Well, it was late, we’re speeding, and swerving could end up really bad, so he gritted his teeth and drove straight.

    Yeah, but that’s a completely different animal, in both the literal and metaphoric sense. Animals that move into the path of a car are not the same as a car moving into the path of the animal. As well, swerving to avoid an animal puts you and other drivers at far greater risk of crashing than killing an animal that ran in front of you. It’s a matter of which causes the least harm – one dead deer, or a ten car pileup?

    Partly related, in many other places farmers are required to keep large livestock inside of fencing. If an animal (e.g. a cow) enters a roadway and there is a collision (especially on a highway) it is the owner who is legally responsible for damages, including when there is a fatality.

  81. says

    in many other places farmers are required to keep large livestock inside of fencing. If an animal (e.g. a cow) enters a roadway and there is a collision (especially on a highway) it is the owner who is legally responsible for damages, including when there is a fatality.

    I’ve never had this verified, but in the American West, many states have open range laws, where livestock can, and do, walk wherever they like. I’ve been told that, if you hit a cow with your vehicle, you are responsible for the damage to the cow. Can anyone confirm this? I know I can look it up, but I’m hoping for an interesting anecdote.

  82. Matt Penfold says

    There’s something similar in Alaska where cops set up fake moose near the side of roads. It’s illegal to shoot animals from the road, and they catch plenty of “hunters” pulling out their guns, then claiming not to be hunting or being oblivious of the law.

    I presume these hunters are some of the responsible gun owners I always being told about that can be trusted not to do silly things with their guns.

  83. says

    What kind of monster does this sort of thing? I lived in Florida for almost a decade and I probably carried a dozen or more turtles across the road. I can’t imagine killing one for “fun”… what kind of evil assholes would even consider doing that?

  84. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The last animal I ran over was a squirrel which darted into the road in front of me. Since there were cars parked on the city street, I was unable to do any real avoidance maneuver, and no time to stop. Ran over its tail.

  85. coyotenose says

    Caine, don’t get me wrong. I leave snakes alone. I don’t kill spiders if I can catch them and put them outside safely (sometimes they hole up where they simply can’t be caught, and having found a brown recluse in a towel I was about to throw over my head, I am not comfortable with unknown breeds hiding in unknown places). I show weird bugs and critters to my nephews because I want the nephs to see that they’re normal. When a spider gets on me, I don’t knock it away and give a high-pitched scream (even though I really REALLY want to), but go, “Oh, look, a spider,” very calmly, trying to set a good example. Hell, I once had a 4′ black snake climb down off of a valve at a water treatment plant onto my shoulder (I was the only warm spot around) and didn’t freak out.

    But I generally value even the stupid get of stupid parents* more than I do snakes, and I knew those kids would have no way to handle that situation . Their parents didn’t teach them anything and often didn’t even mow their yards. That wasn’t their fault. Not the snake’s fault either…

    *Of course history keeps proving me wrong. Some of those kids are now burglars and thugs who run over pets. I know one child abusing deadbeat who played with a nest of baby copperheads when he was a preschooler and didn’t get bitten. He cut his elderly mother’s brakelines last week to try to murder her in revenge for not having the money to pay for the house he stole from her after he stole and spent all her money. Where’s a copperhead when you need one?

  86. RFW says

    Clemson, eh? My father’s alma mater. In South Carolina. A state of assholes and white trash, even though I was born there.

    This account doesn’t surprise me in the least.

  87. sundiver says

    I’ve encountered a few venomous snakes, a couple of copperheads and three rattlers. Never been bitten but once when turning over hay bales that had been rained on I found out one should pull the bale towards one. I flipped a bale away from me once and before I knew it I was six feet back. A copperhead was curled up asleep under the bale and I’d leaped back in reaction ( SNAKE!!! ) before my conscious brain had registered what was under the bale. I guess the critter had crawled under the bale to get out of the summer sun. I backed up a few more feet and continued to watch it a minute longer and it never moved. Sound asleep, I guess. When I came back about twenty minutes later it was gone. Kinda felt bad for the thing, it had found a nice, cool place to snooze and a two-legged ape had to come along and fuck it up. Saw another one under an empty feed sack a couple of weeks later, threw a rock at it and it scurried away. Every rattler I’ve encountered was in Grand Canyon, all three gave their warning rattle before I was within striking distance and slithered away when I’d given them some distance. As long as I’m a safe distance, I think even venomous snakes are cool to watch and I have respect for an animal that can eat something bigger than its own head without any hands.

  88. says

    I’m from the North (Minnesota), but we lived once for a year in Silver City, New Mexico. It was beautiful, and we loved it, and black widow spiders are very common there. This was not something I was used to. Still, I knew they were shy, and just wanted to be left alone, and I never actually saw any. Until I did.

    I was walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and for some reason, I was actually awake enough to be aware of my surroundings. It was very dark, but I noticed something at about eye level in the middle of the laundry room (which I had to walk through to get to the bathroom; it was an odd house). I could think of no reason that something that big should be hanging still in the air, so I turned on the light, and there it was. Big and shiny, with that distinctive hourglass. It was beautiful, but I got the chills. One more step, and it would have been on my face, right between my eyes. And it wasn’t hanging loosely from one thread. It had constructed a couple of lines, and was sitting where it wanted to be.

    I went to get my wife, just to prove this had really happened. She came to see it and said ‘What’s the big deal? It’s too high up to do anything.’ I gave her a look, because I’m ten inches taller than her.

    I’ll admit it: I killed that spider. We had a one-year-old son at the time, and I didn’t want one of these in the house. I didn’t want to kill it, but I couldn’t think of an immediate safe way to get it out of the house. I also had the (irrational) thought that this one was an outlier, willing to come into a large open space above ground, and I didn’t want it to spread its offspring around my home.

    I looked more carefully after that for black widows, and found that there were plenty of them living in the crawl space under our house; the crawl space where I had worked over several months on plumbing and gas lines, sticking my hands into dark corners where I could not see, breaking spider threads that got in my way. So I realized I could probably have found a way to get the one I killed out of the house without being bitten.

  89. Scott Simmons says

    I stopped and rescued a huge tarantula once that was sitting in the middle of a parking lot exit.

    My wife wouldn’t let me keep it. I’m still not sure why not.

  90. No One says

    It comes down to being able to value something other than oneself. It’s a lack of emotional maturity, being unable or unwilling to see pain in other beings. Whether it’s disregard for pedestrians, cyclists, animals, or the environment it’s about the disregard of anything that’s not “you”.

    On a related note google “soot life”. Pollution and consumption as a lifestyle.

    Link:

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&biw=&bih=&q=soot+life&gbv=2&oq=soot+life&gs_l=heirloom-hp.3..0l5j0i8i5.18987.23477.0.25155.9.9.0.0.0.0.168.1232.0j9.9.0…0.0…1c.1.vSzRAVClCeE

  91. Max Hannan says

    @coyotenose 106

    You are a braver person than I. Even though I live in the UK (no venomous spiders), the sight of a spider bigger than a 50p will have be shrieking. I never kill them, but do have to convince someone else to maneuver it outside! Fortunately I don’t mind snakes and we don’t see them much over here.

  92. patterson says

    How about a rubber turtle with a balloon of heavy duty red paint. The driver sees a satisfying red smear in the road behind him, but doesn’t find out that his paint job is ruined it’s too late.

  93. neuralobserver says

    What? People intentionally run over small animals on the road? I’ve been doing it wrong: I hit the brakes or swerve to avoid them, and there have been a couple of times I’ve stopped and carried a turtle across the road.

    I’ve removed turtles from the road many times where I live, including removing a snapping turtle at 5 AM on my way to work–invigorating way to start the morning.

    I’m rather appalled that anyone would think it entertaining to squash turtles just for the hell of it.

    Agreed. And I’ve had no doubt that people do this regularly, either out of cruel amusement or lax indifference.

  94. says

    Once, I pulled my car over to rescue a turtle from the middle of the road, and at the same time, another person was doing the exact same thing, going in the opposite direction. We ended up doing a turtle hand-off: he scooped up the turtle from the other side of the road and carried it to me, and I took the turtle and carried it down away from the road and to the edge of Lake Champlain, which is where I presume the turtle was headed.

    It was a painted box turtle.

    I just thought I’d share that story as an antidote to the depressing OP.

  95. says

    Thanks Sally!

    I saw a bit of a documentary the other day, where a man would take abused dogs from the pound, ones with behavior issues that would keep them from ever being adopted. He’d re-socialize them at his home, and then find them new families to live with. Helps to know there’s some good in the world.

  96. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    As another antidote to the OP, several years ago I was riding my bike to work when I saw a fledgling hopping around in the road between an apartment complex and a minimall. I screeched to a stop, stopped traffic (a 2-lane road), and corralled the bird off the road into the apartment front yard and around a low wall, into relative safety. As I returned to my bike, a pedestrian walking his dog looked at me and said, “We never stand so tall as when we stoop to help those weaker than us.”

    I felt good all day.

  97. Seize says

    Good god! Running over snakes? I even went through the comments but this one was absent.

    If you run over something vaguely pipe-shaped and prehensile, it can find its way inside the guts of your car. An engine housing is a perfectly nice warm place for a groggy, disoriented reptile to sack out. When I went to Belize I heard tell of having to kill a two foot long “five step” snake when he went to check his oil. (“Five step” you’d call it the fer de lance – in Belmopan someone described the folk etymology as “you make it five step after he bite you.”)

  98. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    We ended up doing a turtle hand-off: he scooped up the turtle from the other side of the road and carried it to me, and I took the turtle and carried it down away from the road and to the edge of Lake Champlain, which is where I presume the turtle was headed.

    Dang, the Pullet Patrol™ is lining up to buy drinks for both of you…

  99. No One says

    Crissa @116

    Here are some you tube links.

    http://youtu.be/PTQ6zlYZGbc

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFjSkgdoi1Q

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=M6vw2L_flh8&feature=fvwp

    http://youtu.be/0yq5FR6WxSM

    They modify their diesel trucks to produce soot, and lower their gas mileage. I’ve been in traffic where four lanes came to a standstill because of lowered visibility when one of these clowns decides to turn it on. It’s pollution as a lifestyle and a “political” statement.

  100. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @No One

    And people criticize Captain Planet as being unrealistic

  101. eucliwood says

    Yeah that’s awful but can’t he have used a dummy turtle or something?! You don’t just watch as a turtle is vehicularly tortured…

  102. says

    Long time lurker here – this is a subject near and (un)dear to my heart.

    I have lived on a rural road in eastern ND for 15 years now. I have lost track of the number of animals – many of them pets belonging to me and my neighbors – that have died on this stretch of road. It has become extremely clear to me that there are low-life, scum-sucking, sorry-excuse-for-a-human drivers going out of their way in order to run over animals that dare to be even close to the road. At first I believed it was the always the animal’s fault. It had run out in the road or some such excuse. However, I have changed my mind given years of evidence to the contrary.

    The last pet I lost was nearly 2 years ago, but it seems like only yesterday. I came home from work as usual, but unfortunately, this evening was not the usual. On the shoulder of the road in front of my house was our grey cat, Snert. Whoever the driver was, xe had to drive off the road onto the shoulder in order to run over Snert’s head. The only concilation I have is that she died quickly and likely never knew what hit her.

    My faith in humanity dies a little bit more every time I see another animal – wild or otherwise – dead on the side of the road.
    Back to lurking.

  103. vaiyt says

    And people criticize Captain Planet as being unrealistic

    Captain Planet was fucking prescient.

    The authors predicted, way ahead of time, that environmentalism hitting the mainstream would have a lot of people opposing it as a matter of principle.

  104. says

    Corgilvr:

    I have lived on a rural road in eastern ND for 15 years now.

    I’m so sorry about Snert. I’m in ND too (Almont, east of New Salem) and have seen way too many of these assholes. If they aren’t trying to run animals over, the junior psychopaths in town shoot everything in sight, including people’s pets. Fucking assholes. I’ve had more than one confrontation with them – they know to keep a wide fucking berth around my property, but they keep killing animals.

  105. Mak, acolyte to Farore says

    Yeah that’s awful but can’t he have used a dummy turtle or something?! You don’t just watch as a turtle is vehicularly tortured…

    He did. It’s a rubber turtle, yo.

    I’m not sure why I was so shocked by this. I guess I keep trying to forget. I’ve seen people stomp snakes or run over them with their bikes and golfcarts on purpose, especially around here. I’m honestly surprised I haven’t seen any gopher tortoise roadkill, even though I’ve had to shift them across roads and footpaths before. Maybe because they don’t live in town, or because they’re endangered, but I don’t see how that would stop some people.

    My grandma told me stories about people trying to run over her cat while it walked on the side of a golfcart path.

    Hell, there was a moment when I was walking my chihuahua, and someone drove off the road in order to hit both of us. I had to literally grab the dog and jump out of the way.

  106. McC2lhu doesn't want to know what you did there. says

    Since the antidote stories were cathartic after reading the OP, I thought I should mention that I rescued two baby hummingbird chicks that were being attacked by ants. The poor little tykes were covered with some sort of brown mites as well. We took them out of their nest, cleaned them off and got squirted a couple of times while the tiny chicks had WTF moments. We built a new nest with a half plastic cup filled with shredded cloth and tied it with three strings for stability and camouflaged it with leaves from the tree. We smeared Vaseline above the nest on the branch since ants hate the stuff. It was quite satisfying seeing the little critters get bigger and eventually fly off in that bizarre Woodstock flight pattern. Mom hummer was never upset about the replacement nest and carried on as normal. Not all humans are sick twisters. Some recognize a cousin when they see one and do the nice, if not right thing.

  107. tbp1 says

    Far be it from me to discourage scientific inquiry, and I note that the initial point of the experiment was, apparently, to figure out ways to help the turtle population, which is a good thing, but wasn’t this experiment rather dangerous? Someone swerving to avoid the turtle, or, for that matter, to hit it, could easily have caused an accident, even a fatal one. Was this experiment approved by a faculty advisor? None of the accounts I have seen address this, but it was almost the first thing I thought of.

  108. coyotenose says

    Max Hannan @ 116:

    It’s not bravery. I’m an anxious git who’s just barely able to keep under control when a spider scurries up my arm out of nowhere. Considering how many wolf spiders, false black widows, and giant goddamn writing spiders* there are in North Carolina backyards, I’d be a gibbering mess if I had moved here as an adult instead of growing up around them. As it is, I have phantom crawling sensations for a while after walking through a web.

    *I once saw an ambitious writing spider begin to weave a web across my road between tree branches. It successfully crossed several strands over a space TWENTY FEET ACROSS before a car drove through it. Freaking amazing. How, how did it cross a line from a branch on one side to the ground on the other side, then climb up into the branches and do it again in the opposite direction, linking the strands so it could go back up and keep adding to the web?

  109. says

    We need more wildlife road crossings. When I was a kid, I lived near a lake/swamp, and every spring there was a large migration of amphibious creatures such as peepers, yellow-spotted salamanders, red efts, and turtles from the woods up the hill back to the lake. My siblings and I would go out and scoop up as many as we could (and rescue them from our window wells as well) but there was always such carnage on the roads.

  110. says

    This is Clemson, S.C., we’re talking about right? I graduated from there and can say first hand that people don’t need a reason to be cruel to animals in the South. Just be glad it’s animals and not people anymore. That’s progress, right?

  111. says

    Re: 132 tbp1

    Do people often swerve to avoid leaves and not-moving rubber animals not in the path of traffic?

    Your concern is noted, and discarded. That level of concern starts getting annoying. Next you’re going to say it’s the turtle’s fault he got run over, how dare he enter the road.

  112. tbp1 says

    #136: I think my concern is warranted, or at least might be. People do sometimes swerve to avoid animals they see in the road, and, as this study sadly indicates, sometimes actually to hit animals in the road. People swerving have been known to cause accidents, including fatal ones. The people driving down the road where this experiment was conducted didn’t sign up for it, and certainly didn’t sign an informed consent waiver. All the descriptions of the experiment described the road as “busy,” although I didn’t see any indication as to average speed.

    It’s not the turtle (who was not real anyway), whose behavior I question, it’s that of the young man who put obstacles in a busy street without, as far as I can tell, informing anyone he was going to do so. I’ll bet you anything that Clemson U. has strict guidelines for using human subjects in experiments, and yes, I think that the drivers going down that road count as human subjects. This wasn’t a strictly observational study; the student actively set up a condition that people had to react to in some form or other, and thus put them at a non-zero risk for a potentially serious accident. This is a very different thing from a real wild animal, who does not know any better, crossing a road. Had an accident occurred, the young man, the university, or both, could easily—and reasonably—have been held liable. That’s why I wondered if a faculty advisor had approved the experiment.

  113. serena says

    tbp1: I voiced this same concern (including suggestions as to how to do such a thing more safely) and got told I hate turtles because of it.

  114. mikes says

    Steinbeck made just this observation in “The Grapes of Wrath”.

    Chapter 3:

    And over the grass at the roadside a land turtle crawled,
    turning aside for nothing, dragging his high-domed shell over the grass: His hard legs
    and yellow-nailed feet threshed slowly through the grass, not really walking, but
    boosting and dragging his shell along. The barley beards slid off his shell, and the
    clover burrs fell on him and rolled to the ground. His horny beak was partly open, and
    his fierce, humorous eyes, under brows like fingernails, stared straight ahead.

  115. says

    Re: 138 serena
    No, you did not. I can totally hit command-F and type ‘serena’ and your only complaint was that caltrops were unsafe and illegal. Which is a no duh. Your suggestion did not include anything about a safer way to put a dummy turtle by the road to photo the cars that hit it.

  116. tbp1 says

    @Crissa: The article clearly states that Mr. Weaver put “a realistic rubber turtle in the middle of a lane on a busy road near campus.” Note the words “realistic” and “middle of a lane.” It does not say “plush,” or “by the road.” Drivers were intended to think it was a real turtle and apparently did. It is not unreasonable to think that someone swerving to avoid (or hit) it could cause an accident. I’m not blaming the turtle. That’s not even a remotely reasonable inference. I’m saying that the young man might reasonably have been liable had an accident occurred. If he conducted the experiment as part of his university work, the university might reasonably have been held liable, as well. I’m wondering it this was taken into account when he designed the experiment, and I’m wondering if he got a faculty member to review it and make sure it complied with Clemson University standards for experiments involving human subjects. I’m willing to be convinced, but nothing in the articles I have read addresses this, and I don’t think it’s unimportant. I don’t think, as a general rule, that people should be putting any kind of obstacle, large or small, hard or soft, into the middle of a traffic lane. Do you? The fact that nothing bad happened doesn’t mean that it was impossible for something bad to happen, something directly caused by his experiment. I’m not sure why my questioning this bothers you so much.

  117. StevoR, fallible human being says

    Short clip from the classic On any Sundaymovie :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5up9sv8Nyk

    Heartwarming footage showing not all folks are mean to turtles at the four minutes and five seconds mark.

    Reminds me of a ‘Right Stuff’ novel reference too! Those who’ve read it will know what I mean.

    (Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ too.)

    Cross-posted on the latest lounge thread but in retrospect probably better put here – hope this is okay, my apologies if not.

  118. serena says

    Ctrl+F shows my first sentence posted as: “Perhaps something more like a high-speed camera (akin to the ones used for traffic light tickets or in-the-wild biology studies) mounted nearby, and a rubber or foam animal decoy designed to be the *least* impedance on the road.” This exactly addresses “Your suggestion did not include anything about a safer way to put a dummy turtle by the road to photo the cars that hit it.”