Question: Do Animals Cross in Front of Cars for Protection?

05May08

I just tried doing a quick Google search for this, but I don’t want to invest a lot of time in a stray thought, so just let me ask:  do you suppose animals race across the road, right in front of cars, because they know that birds of prey will not dare to dash down and snatch them when a vehicle is so near?

Plainly, this would not apply to deer and other large animals.  It also would not explain every confused gopher or indecisive squirrel who is fated to become part of the pavement.  But it would be interesting to know whether any kinds of small animals do use the onrushing automobile as a shield.

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One Response to “Question: Do Animals Cross in Front of Cars for Protection?”

  1. 1 R

    This is an interesting phenomenon that I have also pondered, because often in rural areas and suburbs, there are no cars on the road most of the time, so the animals can cross the street safely. However, many animals are seen ran over by cars and drivers often encounter animals darting in front of their cars. Also, do you notice cars stop for geese with chicks so they can crossly safely on the streets? This suggests that geese cross only when they see cars coming. At first I thought the animals, especially squirrels and rabbits, cross in front of cars for protection like you said, but it doesn’t make sense when much larger animals cross the same way. Instead, I think the animals cross the roads because of the will to follow a seemingly existent, unwritten, and natural law that all wild animals follow, which is to not trespass marked territories (call this the Natural Law of No-trespassing). After million years of evolution without humans, the paved roads for cars are a new comer to the environment that animals must adapt, but instead of thinking it’s just another part of nature like grass or sand that they can walk on, animals think the roads are the territories of cars and humans. Just like bears never go after the prey that hunters slain, even though they can easily overpower the humans, they still wait patiently at a safe distance for the humans to take what they could and leave before going after the carcass, so too the animals think they can only pass on roads under the observance of drivers in cars. Animals are smart enough to know that cars are not alive, but operated by humans, and that as long as the people are in cars, there is no way they can harm the animals outside. When the animals see a car approaching, they will observe the eyes of the driver to see if he’s watching, and if animals think the driver can clearly see them when they cross, they will assume the driver will stop for them and not continue driving (sadly this is often not the case). If you observe closely, you will notice that the animals will stay still on the side of the road if you don’t stare or look at them directly (if you do, they will dart across no matter how close the car is). If the animals do cross, if you take your eyes off them and look at the road ahead, the animals will either stop immediatly to let you pass, or run faster with more urgency and confidence across the street. The best thing to do while driving and avoiding animals jumping in front of you is to look at the road as far as the eye could see and pay no attention to the sidelines. If the animals do cross in this situation, it will be far enough away so you have time to react and slow down. It might just often be the case that street kills are often the result of less experienced drivers who often look at the road not far ahead of them and constantly peering at the sidelines, this just gives the animals a reason to cross in front of the car.


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