Are we all just road kill on the highway of life?

If you put in any amount of mileage on the roads you will sooner or later encounter road kill. It is seldom a pleasant sight. But here is a highlight reel of some of the most common species of road kill.

Raccoons.

Plenty of those, right? I once saw a grown raccoon running across the road with a full bag of Wonder Bread in its mouth. Talk about making a couple of interesting choices! Crossing the road is dangerous enough for wild animals without lugging a full bag of Wonder Bread along with them. Of course if that raccoon got hit in some Southern states the locals might break out the bread, carve up the meat and have lunch right there on the side of the highway.

Opossums.

These smiley little critters were never meant to live in North America, did you know that? They evolved down in South America and have moseyed their way up to North America on their own. No one even checked their passports. They are the ultimate illegal immigrants, and not even suited for our climate. Their naked ears, designed originally for heat dissipation in the tropics, can’t take the cold and get blackened and frostbitten when they wander out in the sub-freezing weather. And to make matters worse, possums are sloooow. They couldn’t cross the road in a hurry if their life depended on it, and it often does. That is why you often find possums lying dead with a weird smile on their face. It’s as if they were saying, “Ha ha. Guess the joke’s on me.”

Skunks

At least these critters seem to get in the last word when you hit them on the road. They let off a stink that says “Screw You Buddy” that can last for days. We humans might take a lesson from skunks and learn to spray our enemies in protest or as a last statement on how life itself can stink. Think of the office politics! How sweet would that be? Don’t like your co-worker. Just lift your tail and spray them! Companies would have to stock tomato juice in the lunchroom.

Squirrels.

Oh. My. God. Anyone with ADD should appreciate the difficulty of being a squirrel. I know I do. So many choices. So many spins and turns and indecisions on one little stretch of road. Then WHAM! The choice about where to go and when is made for them. One more Frisbee squirrel on the highway. Autumn and spring are the worst times of the year for squirrel kill. In spring the squirrels are horny and stupid, which is kind of redundant. In fall they’re hungry and preoccupied, which is redundant as well. You get the picture. Squirrels have so many tough decisions to make and they really seem to suck at making them. So I do brake for squirrels, which is an oxymoron, because they do not brake for you.

Deer

Deer look so innocent and nice. They are out to kill you.

In the eastern states of the US, deer are just about as common as squirrels. That means they’re getting hit on the highways nearly as often as their smaller, rodent buddies. But hitting a deer with a car is no small deal. They can total your car and cause death and injury.

We might take this all for granted were it not for the fact that deer are a little higher up on the evolutionary intelligence scale compared to squirrels. Take the deer in this picture. She’s actually distracting you with that one cute ear while a badass buck sneak up behind you to take you down. So don’t think they don’t conspire to crash a few cars on the road. Of course we’re fighting back white “deer whistles” and other warning devices. But do you think a deer with evil intent is going to listen to some high-pitched whistle? Get real. Better pay attention to those Deer Crossing signs rather than whistle your way to eternity.

Birds.

Well, what can you say? Anything that flies too low when it has the ability to fly higher is simply not fit for survival. That is why so many birds lay crushed and flattened on the highway. A species of bird known as the red-headed woodpecker even has the bad habit of dropping from their lofty perch in a tree, flying low over the road and then swooping back back up to land on another tree. Now, I got a “D” in 7th grade math, but simple geometry should tell those woodpeckers that if they fly straight across the road rather than dropping down low, they would not get smangulated by cars. Stupid woodpeckers are not the ones who will live to pass on their genes. Let’s teach those woodpeckers how to fly right and save some lives. They’re too pretty to just give up and let them die.

Insects.

Most people I know spend 93.6% of their lives trying to avoid all contact with insects or spiders of any sort, so we won’t likely find much empathy for insects getting hit by cars and run over by tires. More like high-fives. So we see those grasshoppers and gnats and dragonflies splatting windows all summer long, and no one stops to bury them in the dirt. Insects deserve better than to become mere road glue, but is there an insect after life? A Bug Heaven? We’ll have to check in with other religions because maybe insects all come back as squirrels in other lives. That would sort of make sense, wouldn’t it? There’s something else I’ve always wanted to ask as well. Do insects have insex? Leave your comments below.

Butterflies.

Well, boo hoo on this one. It always sucks when a nice-looking butterfly gets blasted by a car or truck. Take your typical Tiger Swallowtail. Beautiful, right? Flying along happy on a sunny summer day, then it happens to get sucked into the vortex of highway traffic and Thwamp! Now it’s a hood ornament. This is simply the commodification of nature at work. Rather than go to all the trouble of catching and killing the butterfly, road kill shortcuts the process by pasting insects straight to the vehicle. Of course the odds really are smaller these days of getting an insect stuck in the grill. There’s almost no such thing as a grill on modern cars. More like a metal belly button. Dying butterflies just bounce off the aerodynamic hood and land behind us on the road where they get turned into temporary tarsnakes. Some of us miss the old days when those massive Buicks and Pontiacs had grills the size of a house. The only place to really learn biology was to check on the front grill on summer vacation. That’s where all the cool butterflies hung out.

Snakes, reptiles and other slow-moving, cold-blooded creatures

This Blanding’s Turtle is a protected species. But not when it hits the road.

People with an inherent fear or dislike of snakes may cheer when they see a dead snake on the road. But snakes really mean you no harm. They just want to get the hell out of your way. Even rattlesnakes give you fair warning when you tread on their turf. Most snakes don’t get even that basic respect when your tire smashes them flat on the road.

And turtles. There is simply no excuse at all for running over a turtle or tortoise with your vehicle. Evolution clearly did not anticipate the creation of giant hulking cars and trucks with metal shells and crushing tires. Cars are like turtles on massive steroids. In 14 billion years of evolution, the automobile just cropped up in the last century or so. So give those slow-moving turtles a break, will ya? Evolution is moving a little fast for their liking these days.

People.

Bet you didn’t see this one coming, did you? But yes, people get turned into road kill every day in America. Runners get slammed by drunk drivers and killed. Distracted drivers collide with runners and cyclists 50,000 cyclists times a year. Between 600 and 800 cyclists actually die on the road from collisions with motorized vehicles. People are road kill.

Runners are also at great risk, especially those who train at night or in adverse weather conditions. And what runners don’t do that? So here’s a cold, hard fact: people can be road kill just like animals.

That’s because we basically are just animals, comprised of the same genetic stuff as apes, with whom we share 98% of our genetic code. Of course there are plenty of people who like to deny our evolutionary history, especially twits convinced that all living things on earth appeared like blips on a TV screen 10,000 years ago. They make all sorts of arguments against the idea that humans have anything in common with other living things. They prefer to say we are specially created by God. But tell that to the cancer researchers using genetic theory to cure one of the world’s worst diseases. Creationism doesn’t help them too much. So why call it science, or give it an ounce of credibility? Creationists want to turn evolutionary theory into road kill. We can only hope the car backs up and runs them over on the anachronistic backlot of public policy.

Theologically, the fact that some of us get turned into road kill might be seen as some sort of proof that God seems to be failing the test of respect for life. Because if humans can accidentally kill other humans, especially those out enjoying a simple run or bike ride, then what moral justice is there really, in the world? It doesn’t add up. Scientists have good information that 99% of all living things that ever existed are now extinct. That means that we really are, essentially, road kill on the highway of life, because God doesn’t seem to care if life persists in one form or another. We all get run over eventually.

Drivers, cyclists and runners too easily forget the responsibilities of sharing the road.

But that is precisely why we are told by the major religions of the world (except those radical ones) to respect life, because are all just a road kill away from oblivion.

That means people driving cars should pay special attention to other people riding their bikes and running on the

road. The idea that driving a vehicle gives you some special gift to “own the road” is absurd. There’s no god in history that would support that opinion.

Public laws passed to protect pedestrians and cyclists on the road are specifically crafted to promote the basic consideration and respect for life. If by chance some of those pedestrians and cyclists on the roads show bad behavior or make mistakes, well, the human condition is not perfect, we all know that. When someone makes a mistake or acts arrogantly while riding a bike or running, that does not bestow upon you the right of martial law to you and your truck or car.

Cool down. Let the moment pass. Take pleasure if you must in the fact that you’ll still get where you’re going faster than those people riding bikes or running. Leave them in your rear view mirror. We get the fact that you think you’re superior because you’re driving a motorized vehicle. We don’t even care if you think you’re better than us. Just don’t run us over. On purpose or by accident.

And while you’re at it, keep an eye out for motorcyclists as well. Yes, we know they’re all crazy, those motorcyclists. But America’s Constitution and its guarantee of rights to liberty and life covers crazies like motorcyclists just like it covers your tank-like Ford Expedition.

Let’s face it. Road kill is never a pretty sight. But it surely needn’t involve human life. You might even try to go easy on the squirrels, raccoons, possums, deer and other critters while you’re at it. They’re just going about their business, trying not to become one of the 99% of all living things that have gone by the wayside.

If that 99% figure sounds familiar, it’s probably because we’ve been hearing it used in other areas of life as well. Which goes to show that some people really do think they own the highway, and don’t care if they run you over on their way to power, politics and personal ambition.

It’s a sad truth.

About Christopher Cudworth

Christopher Cudworth is a content producer, writer and blogger with more than 25 years’ experience in B2B and B2C marketing, journalism, public relations and social media. Connect with Christopher on Twitter: @genesisfix07 and blogs at werunandride.com, therightkindofpride.com and genesisfix.wordpress.com Online portfolio: http://www.behance.net/christophercudworth
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1 Response to Are we all just road kill on the highway of life?

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