One day last week, while we were making pottery, Chandler mentioned the turtles. Apparently they have turtles in Blakeney, Ontario, and a lot of them get killed crossing the road. So Chandler and her husband make a point of helping turtles across the road whenever they see them inching along.
Then she told us about the other kind of people – the ones who deliberately hit the turtles with their trucks and cars. She’s seen people swerving to hit the turtles. She’s seen crushed turtles on the shoulder of the road. It’s apparently a sport of sorts among a certain element of the area’s youth.
Why would anyone DO that? Why would anyone enjoy killing other creatures, especially something so benign as a turtle? I’m a pretty understanding person, but I don’t have even the slightest glimmer of understanding of that behaviour or the motivation behind it.
Coincidentally, GC and I were poking around on our computers that very evening, and GC said “Did you see David Reevely’s blog post today?”
I hadn’t. It was called Who swerves to run over an animal? It contained a link to a video created by Mark Rober, whose day job is actually spaceship engineer for NASA. He conducted an experiment in which he put a fake turtle (and, alternatively, a snake, a tarantula and a leaf) on the side of the road and then hid and documented what happened with the next 1,000 cars.
You should watch the video because it’s interesting and – surprisingly – funny. Basically 94% of the drivers ignored the animal, while an appalling 6% deliberately hit it. (It bears repeating that these animals were placed on the shoulder of the road, so the drivers had to go out of their way to hit them.) Occasionally some kind soul stopped to help the animals to safety, but he doesn’t say how many.
Of the 6% who killed the animals, 89% of them drove pickup trucks or SUVs, which probably doesn’t surprise anybody.
Incidentally, I’m not sure where the video was made, and this is no doubt a critical piece of information. But Rober repeated the experiment on a road leading to a gun club near his house, and almost double the number of drivers deliberately hit the animals.