Give Turtles a Break or Brake?

Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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22 Responses

  1. Road Scholar says:

    Are you sure it was actually a turtle on the sign? Because I see the “Give Them a Brake” sign quite often around the country near road construction and the “Them” is referring to highway workers. Maybe your “turtle” was actually a, perhaps poorly rendered, hard hat?

    Otherwise I got nothin’.Report

  2. Glyph says:

    They are telling you to slow down and watch for turtles. Here’s NH doing the same.

    1). It’s intended as a general injunction to slow down and keep your eyes peeled for turtles during mating season when they are crossing roadways, not a specific instruction on what to do if you must instantaneously choose between hitting a turtle or a tree. Turtles don’t move fast, so this general injunction is fairly workable. In the case of deer, it doesn’t really matter much (beyond general safety/reaction time) how fast you are going or how alert you are; those furry jerks can leap onto the road out of nowhere in a flash, I’ve seen it. In that case it’s probably better to just hit the deer than steer away from it into dangers unknown.

    2). In that vein, dodging a turtle in the road, while not ideal, is probably safer/easier than dodging a deer. For one, if you are seeing a turtle in the first place, then the road isn’t icy, which is not always the case with a deer. For two, you can probably dodge a small, slow moving object like a turtle more easily and with less-radical maneuvers than you can a large, fast-moving object like a deer.

    3). The turtles may be endangered, and deer aren’t?

    4). Hey, remember when that guy put fake turtles in the road to see what would happen?Report

  3. James Pearce says:

    I hit a turtle on a road in Oklahoma once. The action of the tire on the angle of the shell turned that turtle into a projectile that flew like a Koopa in Super Mario Bros.Report

  4. aaron david says:

    My mother in law is slightly famous for swerving to miss a squirrel and rolling her car. It all depends on the situation, but doing the obvious good thing, swerving to miss the animal is often the the wrong thing to do.Report

    • Swerving to miss a squirrel is a waste of effort, they dodge and dart much more quickly — and randomly — than you can respond. Especially true on a bicycle (I used to have a cartoon of a guy trying, I think it was Frazz), but still valid for a car.Report

  5. Kazzy says:

    Does NoVa have turtles? I’m assuming they’re using them to signal “Go slow”.Report

  6. Damon says:

    I was following my ex home one day and she stopped full in the middle of a two lane road, blocking traffic in both ways, ran into the middle of the road, picked up a turtle and set him on the other side of the road (the direction he was heading).

    Nary a honk from the traffic. Turtles are cool. Deer, not so much it seems.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Damon says:

      I stopped once to watch a parade of ducklings cross the road. Traffic was backed up several cars in both directions (I was at the head of one lane). There was horn honking until people realized what was going on, at which point everyone’s heart melted and the sun shone a little bit brighter.Report

      • Jonathan McLeod in reply to Kazzy says:

        Last week, a Quebec woman was found guilty for causing the death of two motorcyclists. She had stopped on a highway to rescue some ducklings and a motorcycle slammed into the back of her car.

        If you can stop safely, great, but stopping isn’t always a wise move.

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        A highway is a different bird altogether. We were on a road with a 35 MPH speed limit which most people go much slower than at that time of day due to all the school busses.

        But, yes, I am fully on board with the idea that we should not endanger human lives to save animal lives (unless those humans voluntarily opt to endanger their own lives).Report

      • Murali in reply to Kazzy says:


        In Singapore, the person who hits the vehicle in front is always at fault (on all civil and legal matters pertaining to the accident).Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kazzy says:

        That’s almost always the case back home, which has lead to scams of people slamming on the breaks in the middle of the road in hopes of a settlement. It also leads to interesting things where you have one car hitting another from behind, which punches that car into the next car, and so the middle car is the victim of Part 1 and the perpetrator of Part 2. It does keep things pretty simple, though.

        I don’t think it applies, however, to when there is a car that is out-and-out stopped on the road where they shouldn’t be stopped.Report

      • Jonathan McLeod in reply to Kazzy says:

        Murali, that’s generally the case in Ontario (and I think throughout Canada). But, as Will notes, it can also be illegal to stop on the road. In this case, it was a thoroughfare and it was considered negligent for a woman to park her car in the middle of the road to save some ducks.Report

      • Murali in reply to Kazzy says:

        It also leads to interesting things where you have one car hitting another from behind, which punches that car into the next car, and so the middle car is the victim of Part 1 and the perpetrator of Part 2.

        Actually, in Singapore, in such situations, the rear most car takes full responsibility for both cars. I know this because I was in the middle car for one such collision. And I know that my friend the driver was not liable for anything.

        As it is cars do break down in the middle of the highway, often before they can move to the road shoulder. Given that she was parked and already out of the car, the motorbike behind should have seen the car from far away. It is not like she suddenly jammed the break and caused a tailgating motorcyclist to have a fatal accident.

        The motorcyclist himself must have been riding dangerously. Given the article, I do not see how the motorcyclist is not primarily responsible for his own and his daughter’s death.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Damon says:

      I was following my ex home one day

      I always enjoy a heartwarming story of stalking. πŸ˜‰Report

  7. zic says:

    I would guess they seriously want you to brake for turtles, to not run them over.

    The only reason turtles will be in the road is to go to lay their eggs. Because of the oddness of turtle biology, every female is really essential (mostly because she mates with so many males, and so has, in her eggs, a tremendous genetic diversity).

    And I am a serious turtle watcher; painted turtles and snapping turtles are very much a part of the Maine landscape.Report

  8. notme says:

    Which part of N. Va was the sign located in?Report

  9. Will Truman says:

    I want to say the Dulles Parkway.Report