If ever you’ve found yourself in this particular situation before, been there, done this, then rest assured you are not alone.

Early morning and you find yourself behind the wheel. Still a little groggy but the coffee’s caffeine is kicking in so you are alert to the road. That’s good because you’re running late. Rounding a bend you see… something, sitting on the white line on your side. Is that a rock or perhaps just a discarded fast food container? Littering is bad it clutters the landscape! As you draw closer you realize the litter is moving. Upon closer inspection you see that it’s not litter at all but rather one of nature’s most self-contained and durable creations: it’s a turtle. Not the teenage mutant variety but just a common little box guy. Passing by you ease into the other lane giving the little fellow a wide berth. No need to take a chance, sometimes those little guys take off and really haul shell.

Less than a hundred yards away… will he be OK? Will he make it safely to the other side? Of course he will. It’ll be just fine. There’s very little traffic and surely other drivers will see him, besides you’re already running late. So just keep going and maybe you’ll make it in time. Yes, just leave that innocent creature to the fate of the open road. Don’t even consider that his tough little shell wouldn’t survive if… Damn it!

With a resigned sigh you find a place to turn around and make your way back to the natural impromptu crosswalk. There he is, just now making it to the double yellows. Putting on your hazard lights you block the lane and hop out. Gingerly you lift the little fellow and transport him to his set destination.

There will be no thank you or courteous wave from the wandering reptile and you’re now officially late for work. But you did the right thing; you helped a fellow inhabitant of the planet. Who knows, he may get exposed to some mutating chemicals, start eating Italian food, learn ninjutsu and save your life someday.

Turtles are a rare exception to the rule when it comes to avoiding roadkill. They’re slow moving, unaware of the danger they’re in and it’s easy to dodge then assist them and avoid their demise under your tires. Other wild animals however rely on timing, luck, your driving skills and patience.

Deer are large and easy to spot, but they can come bounding out of nowhere at a moment’s notice. By the time your mind registers “Where the hell did that come from?” there’s no time to brake, rarely time to swerve, just hold it steady and hope for the best. Deer seem to be totally oblivious to our presence on the road way unless they are high-beamed… much like drunken college students. This is why you need to put down your phone and let your peripheral vision do its job to avoid a fatal collision.

On the other, hand rabbits and squirrels appear to be completely aware of what’s going on when they attempt a crossing. Bunnies will leap right out in front of you. They take to the asphalt with all the confidence in the world and should be able make it easily across. But for some reason, once they become aware of the oncoming traffic, most of them spaz-out and begin running erratically back and forth in front of the vehicle. “OK just gonna hop across here and… holy s*** CAR! CAR! CAR! Run away Aiiieeeee!!! It’s gonna get me!” Do rabbits get stage fright? If so, give them a moment to work out their lines before running them down.

Then there’s squirrels… friggin’ squirrels. Those little bastiches know exactly what they’re doing and like to f*** with human drivers every chance they get. They dart out like furry missiles, then just as quickly zip back. Sometimes they make it all the way to the other side before doing this. In other cases they freeze momentarily, feign one direction and go the other. You just know that, waiting on the far side of the road, all their little furry butted buddies are waiting in the bushes to congratulate their friend and laughing at you. “Whoo hoo he made it, Carl is in the club! Ha ha ha! Did you see that guy almost ditch his SUV? Way to go man, you got some serious nuts! Oh…are those pecans? May I have one?” Regardless of their malicious intentions these little guys have as much right to the road as you do.

We could go on forever with tragically humorous animal anecdotes. Like how you can’t watch out for birds, how an opossum’s defense against an oncoming car is just sad, and if you’re dodging fish then something is really wrong… or you’re in a lake. But it’s safe to say that unless you’re a moron you see where this is going. Animals have just as much right to the open roads, if not more-so, than we do. Yes we built the roads but they live there and we’re just passing through. So be alert when you get behind the wheel. Be aware of the open road in front of you and the world around. When you see those “Share the Road” signs they should apply to more than just the human element…unless the squirrels have stolen your bicycle.

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Hope to hear from ya, until then try and stay focused. See ya!