Spring brings with it some awesome things, the beginnings of summer, daylight savings, running-shoe-wearing girls walking in pairs around the suburbs. But one darker, less discussed element of Spring is that it’s road kill season. Hardly a recommended dinner table topic (unless road kill is the main course) road kill is an unspoken reality of kiwi life.
We exist closely with all sorts of native species, and there are occasions when our paths cross except us humans are in 1.5 tonnes of metal cutting a track at 100kph and the animals are just being well¦ animals. On a recent trip north I was road testing a VW Golf GTI on the open road (tough job) I came round a corner at pace to see a mother duck walking a trail of five or six baby ducks across the road. This put me in a rather unfortunate position, not helped by the fact that ducks love to walk in single file with a perfect half foot gap between them, what’s up with that? So the rule as I know it with avoiding road kill is that braking is cool, swerving is not. My mother always said never swerve to miss animals, but the way I figure it that was ten years ago when I was:
A) A much younger and more inexperienced driver
B) Cars didn’t have modern duck avoiding features like Electronic Stability Control and Brake Force Distribution
So not for the first time I went against my mother’s good advice and lined up the small gap between the last trailing mini duck and the roadside ditch. Real life road testing doesn’t get any more real than that and the Golf GTI was up for it. It hit the loose chip on the roadside and broke traction ever so briefly before it’s acronym heavy safety systems pulled it back straight, the drivers wheel narrowly missed the last duck and I continued on my way watching the rogue posse of ducks finish their dangerous crossing from my rear vision mirror.
So what’s the moral of this near road kill tale?
A) Stay flexible in your road kill avoidance beliefs
B) What your mum tells you is a good rule of thumb, but there are occasions where these rules can be stretched if you recognise the opportunity for a more favourable outcome
C) VW Golf GTIs can do anything including saving the lives of baby ducks.
D) Duck Crossing road signs aren’t a joke, don’t steal them