Road Kill Question

onemeeeliondollars has an interesting YouTube Video about drivers running over animals. In his study, he chose a stretch of highway with a large shoulder area and placed either a rubber snake, a rubber turtle, a rubber tarantula (the entomological connection) or a rubber leaf in the shoulder area and observed the behavior of motorists.

He observed 1000 vehicles and found that 6 percent of drivers will swerve out of the lane to hit the rubber animal. No driver swerved out of the lane to hit the rubber leaf. The animal targeted most often was the tarantula. 3.2 percent of the drivers intentionally hit the tarantula. compared to 1.8 percent for the snake and 1 percent for the turtle. Eighty-nine percent of the “Killer” drivers were in SUVs or Trucks. Eleven percent were in cars. Do jerks prefer to drive SUVs and Trucks? Or is the population of car drivers just as bad but more worried about vehicle damage?

Interestingly, about 4 percent of the drivers were good Samaritans who stopped to help the animal off the road. The rubber turtle was “Saved” the more often than the rubber snake. No one tried to save the tarantula. This is not surprising as most people are afraid of large hairy spiders.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Road Kill Question

  1. Anonymous says:

    I found this experiment extremely interesting. As I driver, assuming I had a car that was indestructible, I probably would be one of the 6% of drivers to hit the rubber creatures, especially the tarantula. I would like to see this experiment done with a greater number of vehicles tested and maybe in a different environment, such as an urban area. I wonder if the number of times a certain creature is ran over correlates to the level of “repulsiveness.” For example, would a tarantula be hit more often than chipmunk? This is a good experiment and I would like to see it redone on a larger scale in the future.

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