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OT: Time to ban cars

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Initial post: Dec 27, 2012, 2:43:26 PM PST

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) - Clemson University student Nathan Weaver set out to determine how to help turtles cross the road. He ended up getting a glimpse into the dark souls of some humans.

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.

"I've heard of people and from friends who knew people that ran over turtles. But to see it out here like this was a bit shocking," said Weaver, a 22-year-old senior in Clemson's School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences.

To seasoned researchers, the practice wasn't surprising.

The number of box turtles is in slow decline, and one big reason is that many wind up as roadkill while crossing the asphalt, a slow-and-steady trip that can take several minutes.

Sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless creature under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.

"They aren't thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time," Herzog said. "It is the dark side of human nature."

Herzog asked a class of about 110 students getting ready to take a final whether they had intentionally run over a turtle, or been in a car with someone who did. Thirty-four students raised their hands, about two-thirds of them male, said Herzog, author of a book about humans' relationships with animals, called "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat."

Weaver, who became interested in animals and conservation through the Boy Scouts and TV's "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, wants to figure out the best way to get turtles safely across the road and keep the population from dwindling further.

Among the possible solutions: turtle underpasses or an education campaign aimed at teenagers on why drivers shouldn't mow turtles down.

The first time Weaver went out to collect data on turtles, he chose a spot down the road from a big apartment complex that caters to students. He counted 267 vehicles that passed by, seven of them intentionally hitting his rubber reptile.

He went back out about a week later, choosing a road in a more residential area. He followed the same procedure, putting the fake turtle in the middle of the lane, facing the far side of the road, as if it was early in its journey across. The second of the 50 cars to pass by that day swerved over the center line, its right tires pulverizing the plastic shell.

"Wow! That didn't take long," Weaver said.

Other cars during the hour missed the turtle. But right after his observation period was up, before Weaver could retrieve the model, another car moved to the right to hit the animal as he stood less than 20 feet away.

"One hit in 50 cars is pretty significant when you consider it might take a turtle 10 minutes to cross the road," Weaver said.

Running over turtles even has a place in Southern lore.

In South Carolina author Pat Conroy's semi-autobiographical novel "The Great Santini," a fighter-pilot father squishes turtles during a late-night drive when he thinks his wife and kids are asleep. His wife confronts him, saying: "It takes a mighty brave man to run over turtles."

The father denies it at first, then claims he hits them because they are a road hazard. "It's my only sport when I'm traveling," he says. "My only hobby."

That hobby has been costly to turtles.

It takes a turtle seven or eight years to become mature enough to reproduce, and in that time, it might make several trips across the road to get from one pond to another, looking for food or a place to lay eggs. A female turtle that lives 50 years might lay over 100 eggs, but just two or three are likely to survive to reproduce, said Weaver's professor, Rob Baldwin.

Snakes also get run over deliberately. Baldwin wishes that weren't the case, but he understands, considering the widespread fear and loathing of snakes. But why anyone would want to run over turtles is a mystery to the professor.

"They seem so helpless and cute," he said. "I want to stop and help them. My kids want to stop and help them. My wife will stop and help turtles no matter how much traffic there is on the road. I can't understand the idea why you would swerve to hit something so helpless as a turtle."

Posted on Dec 27, 2012, 2:50:43 PM PST
J. Pardee says:
It's takes a sick person to run over an innocent animal in the road. Not only is the person trying to run over a defenseless animal but they are putting themselves and possibly other humans in danger to do so as well. I wouldn't avoid an animal if it's going to put myself in danger but there is no way I am going to go out of my way to hit anything.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012, 2:51:28 PM PST
Idiots at Clemson have nothing better to do with their time.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012, 2:51:46 PM PST
JWK says:
I'm of the firm belief that we need to ban all inanimate objects for fear that someone somewhere might do something bad with it. I always blame the object, not the person.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012, 3:00:39 PM PST
got mayo?™ says:
Specially ones that can be used to plot a murder of mass quantities of innocent turtles.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012, 3:52:12 PM PST
But I like turtles.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012, 4:11:59 PM PST
Ban cars? I think this is clear proof that the Mario franchise needs to be censored at the very least, if not outlawed outright. Just another case of video games causing violence.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 12:57:32 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 28, 2012, 6:29:47 AM PST
Voice of god says:
When my sister was like 8, she and my mom saw a turtle in the middle of the road. They pulled over to pick it up and help it cross, but this jerk in a pickup truck swerved to hit it as they were walking over to it. I saw it afterward because they took it home to bury it. I doubt if the guy had seen what he'd done he would ever do it again. It was gruesome and cruel.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 1:10:06 AM PST
Prankster says:
I didn't even know people went out of their way to hit the turtles and kill them. That's just insane and sick! If I ever see an animal on the road, I take it really slow because sometimes the animals just aren't capable of those reflexes and avoiding your car. I wish more people were of that mindset.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 1:35:37 AM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 22, 2013, 5:34:16 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 2:31:24 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
Let's not get crazy here, we're talking about less than half of a percent rage point. 260 drivers didn't smush the turtle, or didn't know it was there because they were on their cell phones.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 3:15:11 AM PST
Prankster says:
I never said that this was a fad. I just didn't know people felt like doing this. I just can't get what kind of mentality it is to see a small animal on the road and then try to smush it, as you say. 7 cars in an hour is not an insignificant number. Even a half percent of people is millions and that's just astounding.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 4:43:47 AM PST
JO MOMMA says:
this is crazy stuff! People swerving just to hit a turtle.

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 5:24:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 28, 2012, 5:30:11 AM PST
This story is very old...It was posted in the VGF like a year ago....

EDIT: Not quite a year, July 2012:

Double edit: It's a different story focusing on the same type of study....Odd.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:04:07 AM PST
Voice of god says:
"we're talking about less than half of a percent rage point"

Freudian auto-correct?

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 6:21:06 AM PST
IPhantom says:
Humans suck. Most are stupid, lazy, cruel, or some combination of the 3.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:28:50 AM PST
Ice King says:
I once knew someone who would go out of his way to run over any animal he saw in the road. He thought it was so funny to run over squirrels and even bragged about running over a cat once (he may have just been lying, and I really hope he was).
He was also one of those cowards who loved to yell things out the window to people walking on the road.
He wasn't my friend for very long.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:40:43 AM PST
Totido says:
Those are usually the serial killer types

Posted on Dec 28, 2012, 6:42:27 AM PST
Brykume says:
Kill stuff. I like. Car powerful. VROOOMSQUISH!! Duh-huh

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:43:26 AM PST
J. Pardee says:
Thank goodness you didn't stay friends with him for too long. I went on a date with a guy once and on the way back to my house he tried running over a cat that was in the road. It took every ounce of strength to not punch him in the throat. That was obviously the last time I ever contacted him.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:45:58 AM PST
MrFoxhound says:
That was a metaphor for where he wanted the night to go. He wanted to crush that p.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:46:15 AM PST
That Emu Kid says:

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:46:38 AM PST
Brykume says:
On a date?! LMAO. That's some smooth moves right there

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:50:02 AM PST
That Emu Kid says:
Cats in particular have some kind of cultural stigma that makes some people think it's okay to kill/torture them. Makes me very, very emu.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012, 6:53:05 AM PST
Ice King says:
Nah, I think he was just a spoiled brat who craved attention whether it was good or bad.
Although animals did seem to hate him so who knows? My dog, who loved pretty much everyone, once got up from he was sitting, stood on his coat, and peed all over it while looking him right in the eye then calmly went back to lying down.
This dog had never done anything like that at all before.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  27
Total posts:  50
Initial post:  Dec 27, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 28, 2012

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