The Science Of Road Kill
As hard as it is for animal lovers to believe, there are serious animal-hating crazy people out there who will actually aim at an animal in the road when they are driving. A recent study has shown that six percent of drivers will go for the kill. Of those drivers, 89% drove trucks and SUVs. Both numbers are statistically significant to the experiment conducted by NASA engineer Mark Rober.
Rober had read somewhere that people would purposely run over animals at the side of the road, and that more people would run over turtles than snakes. This did not seem likely to be true since fewer people are afraid of turtles. He decided that it was time to discover the truth about road kill. Armed with a rubber snake, turtle and tarantula he went out to a highway and conducted his experiment. He also took a leaf with him to use as a control item.
Rober observed the actions of 1,000 cars as they drove down the unidentified stretch of highway. The rubber animals and the leaf were placed on the shoulder of the road so that the drivers would clearly have to leave the lane to hit the animal.
His experiment showed that 94% of all drivers and boring and sane. Not surprisingly, no one took aim at the leaf. This seems to indicate that trees and their accompanying leaves are offensive to none of the drivers. As Rober suspected, turtles were the least likely of the animals to be targeted by the drivers. Snakes were the next most popular among the crazed, animal-hating drivers. The top rubber creature flattened by these drivers was the tarantula. The hypothesis was rejected.
Occasionally a driver would pull over to try to help the animal to safety. The attempted rescue of the animals was in line with the findings of those hit, with turtles being most likely to be saved. No one tried to save the tarantulas, though some did try to throw rocks to scare them away, then would run them over anyway. Go figure.
Rober rated 96% of the animal savers as "totally cool people." The remaining 4% was a dude with a pony-tail who stopped to help the snake. When he found that it was rubber, he started to walk off with it. Rober tried to stop him, but the guy got into his vehicle and drove off with the snake. He apparently was an animal lover and a scientist hater.
Based on his findings, Rober recommends that the tarantulas consider getting a new press agent.
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger