I’m old enough to remember the Shell Answer Man. He was a cool dude with a great radio voice who did Public Service style commercials for Shell Oil that ran in the ‘70’s. He knew all kinds of things about safe driving and cars in general. One commercial stuck with me all these years and I share the valuable information I got from it whenever the occasion presents itself. Now that I have this fabulous blog, I always have the occasion to share information.
If you see an animal in the roadway, don’t swerve. You should brake, and if you can, blow the horn to hopefully frighten the animal out of your path. But do NOT swerve. Swerving could potentially take you off the road and into a tree. Or you may go across the center line into oncoming traffic. Either scenario is much worse than hitting the animal.
Over the last four years I have had more occasions than I would like to put this theory into action. South Carolina has lots of trees. In fact, it looks like a large forest where mankind has cut a few roads and set up shop in a few towns. Coming from the retail and housing jungle that is South Florida, the South Carolina foliage was quite a shock. While this forest makes SC fairly attractive to look at as you drive around, it is fraught with peril. Deer are frequent causes of car accidents here, but my nemesis is a smaller, peskier creature; the squirrel.
I believe there are no squirrels in West Palm Beach, FL. They must have moved north as the Broward county residents, trying to put more space between them and Miami, moved north into Palm Beach County. I know I never saw one, and I lived there for 9 years. In South Carolina, and especially in my neighborhood, they’re a plague.
The little buggers jump and run across all the yards in my 450 home neighborhood. I don’t know what it is about squirrel instincts that have them run directly into the path of my car, but it never fails. I will see one of the rodents off to my right, sitting on his hind quarters and rubbing his little face. He’s perfectly safe there, yet as I approach, he suddenly gets nervous and decides it would be a good time to cross the street. Sometimes, he’ll run halfway across, and I slow down to allow him to make it. He’ll change his mind, pause in the middle of the road, look around for a safe place, and then dart right back where he came from.
I have witnessed many a squished squirrel carcass on the windy roads of my neighborhood, and I always shake my head sadly. Another of nature’s creatures killed needlessly because of undeveloped instincts. How long will it take the squirrel to evolve into understanding what a car is? You’d think the roar of the engine would spook them into running AWAY from the sound, but it seems to draw them to it. Unless of course, they do it on purpose. Oh yes, squirrels can be quite resourceful.
So when you encounter these kamikaze rodents, remember the Shell Answer Man’s sage advice. Do Not Swerve.