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Study: 6 Percent of Drivers Swerve to Kill Animals

A NASA scientist conducts an experiment that reveals American drivers' dark side.

By Claire_Martin Jul 19, 2012 9:07AM
Image sourced from The Undiscovered Space channel on Youtube.
If you squint hard at the photo to the left, you'll see a small object on the shoulder of the road, directly in the path of the SUV's right tires. This is not a matter of chance or an accidental slip of the steering wheel. This driver was gunning for the roadside critter. Intentionally.

According to an experiment conducted by NASA engineer Mark Rober, in which he planted rubber snakes, turtles and tarantulas on the shoulder of the road and then observed the actions of 1,000 vehicles, 6 percent of drivers are just like the guy behind the wheel of this SUV -- "cold-blooded rubber-animal killers," in Rober's parlance. 

Rober's 6 percent finding is surprisingly high if you consider a study turned up by the tech blog Gizmodo, which shows 1.2 percent of the American population to be potential psychopaths. Whether a rubber-animal sadist qualifies as a psychopath is, of course, open for debate, but the fact is, 60 out of 1,000 drivers did gun for these critters. 

To be clear, the rubber animals were placed far outside the driving lane; the drivers had to swerve, actually placing themselves in danger, in order to cream the fake animals. (For a full rundown on the experiment, see Rober's Youtube video below.) Eighty-nine percent of these rubber-animal sadists are truck or SUV drivers. 

On the flip side, several drivers showed exceptional compassion for the faux wildlife, stopping to try to help. And one guy liked the snake so much that he absconded with it -- a true (rubber) animal lover.

Jul 19, 2012 1:42PM
If there's a Hell, guess who just swerved to punch his/her own ticket.
Jul 19, 2012 11:53AM
It shows a lack respect for nature and life, bugs we can't help. People going out of their way to kill is psychopathic. All creatures serve a purpose in nature, not sure I can include people in that comment. GROW UP.....I'm sure if we look at the vehicles involved the majority would be pu trucks or SUV's and similar type vehicles.....
Jul 19, 2012 10:00AM

Snakes and Spiders... not sure I wouldn't do the same.  Turtles... people are sick. 


People who say different... we have some lovely little spiders in my part of the country called the "Brown Recluse".  If you want them, rather than stomp on them with a shoe (or tire as I would equate), we can ship them your way.


Same goes for the Water Moccasins, Coral Snakes and Rattlers.

Jul 19, 2012 1:47PM

I sat beside a group of people at a lunch counter rail in Eureka Lodge, Alaska. They were describing their "hunting experience" of driving their large pickup trucks with a grill guard along the Alaska Highway in the winter when the caribou herd was crossing into that area. They boasted of using their trucks as hunting weapons and that the animals were easy to throw into the back of their truck and take back to Anchorage.


I did call Alaska Department of Fish and Game and report this, not to get them arrested but to remind them to post patrols on the highway. I think that the state troopers are now authorized to help the Fish and Game people to enforce our regulations. It is a rather fine line between hitting an animal accidentally and deliberately running them down. Of course no carcass was left on the highway and all of the meat was recovered according to our laws.

Jul 19, 2012 1:35PM


Your opinion is judgemental, discriminatory, stereotypical and quite frankly offending.  To classify SUV and truck driver as "backwood, inbred, racist, country folk" seems like a fairly racist and baised view in my opinion.  Don't throw rocks when you live in a glass house.



College educated, Animal loving, Urban raised SUV driver

Jul 20, 2012 12:06AM

well 6% of drivers must be PSYCHO.

it is one thing to swerve to NOT hit a animal, (clearly a danger to do that). but, to try and hit them?? hmmmm? (N-U-T-S)!!

Jul 19, 2012 10:03PM

I am curious to see of the 1,000 vehicles surveyed, how many were trucks/suvs vs cars? Trucks and suv type vehicles sell, both currently and in the past, a higher amount than per car. So, if 800 truck/suvs were polled and only 200, one could not argue that the truck/suv driver is more likely. It's too bad he didn't mention how many of each vehicle went by as it would give us an even better understanding.

Jul 20, 2012 9:45PM
6% swerved to hit them, but how many died trying to avoid them. Got a call from mom once after she had swerved to miss a squirrel and ended in a ditch. It's not right to aim for them, but for heaven's sake don't die or kill someone else because of them either.
Jul 19, 2012 9:45AM
This doesn't surprise me at all.  I would be interested to know if the majority of these idiots are from rural or urban areas but am assuming because such a high percentage of the killers were in large SUVs and trucks that they are backwoods, inbred country folk. These would be the same folks that we tend to get the racist remarks from in these blogs no doubt.
Jul 19, 2012 11:33AM
Really!! Who writes this stuff? It's a complete waste of time. It's like counting the average amount of bugs you kill on your windshield.
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