Calmest driver doesn’t always mean safest driver

By Ryn Gargulinski: Columnist

Drivers can always tell they’re in New Mexico not necessarily by the highway signs, but by what’s lying on the side of the road. I don’t mean bums in cowboy boots, but the fine proliferation of road kill.

New Mexico road kill usually consists of coyotes, snakes, cattle and once in awhile a wayward armadillo. I also recall a great many turtles, complete with their shells shattered and scattered artistically over the double yellow line.
In southern Oregon folks are reminded of their proximity to the woods by the array of deer, possums and raccoons that never make it across the highway.

I recall I’m by the ocean as there was once actually a seal on the shoulder of the road.

Well, there really wasn’t, but there was a seal who did crawl across the highway successfully to hang out by a harbor RV park.

There are, of course, as many different ways to react to road kill as there are different types of road kill.

People like my mother will go out of their way — even to the point of almost ramming their own car into a tree — to avoid producing road kill in the first place.

An oak was almost demolished over a bird that didn’t fly off quickly enough, and we once nearly flattened a maple when she swerved to avoid a squirrel.

These people are the height of animal lovers, which means they will automatically go to heaven.

It also means they will automatically go to the vet’s office with anything wounded they may hit, even if it’s a 2-ton bear.

Once they spend four days in the vet’s office to assure the animal is all right, they will then spend another six days in the hospital themselves to get over the shock of hitting it in the first place.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who go out of their way to hit the animal, even to the point of almost ramming their own car into a tree.

These are the type found in that “Death Race 2000” movie where roadsters purposely try to run over nuns.

A third type of road kill reactors are those who, quite sadly, don’t even notice they’ve hit something — not necessarily because they are cruel, but because they are simply oblivious.

They are the same type who skip merrily past a spewing gas line while smoking a cigarette or drive two inches from the lip of the Grand Canyon without realizing there’s a big hole right there.

They are also the same type who wonder how deer antlers got entwined in their rearview mirrors or a bird buried in the front grill.
While these folks may not make the best drivers, they are certainly the calmest. They don’t even flinch when they end up going the wrong way on a one-way street.

They also account for at least 92 percent of all the coyotes, snakes and cattle that dapple the streets of New Mexico.