When trains collided in Australia recently, officials cited a likely cause: Hundreds of squished black millipedes had made the tracks slippery. Let's look at a couple of other critters that can change road conditions in cringe-worthy -- and sometimes dangerous -- ways. Or just make your commute a bit slower to negotiate than usual!
Toads in the road (toadkill?) can make for messy driving circumstances. That's not fun for cars or toads.
Luckily for them, ducks and ducklings are cute enough to generate a lot of automotive breaking power in concerned drivers. Squirrels must envy them.
Parental geese and goslings have an alarming habit of seeing crosswalks wherever they need them. Like ducks, these critters will usually win the right of way from drivers if at all possible.
Deer are unlucky enough to need to cross roads from time to time. Hit one of the poor creatures with your car and that's usually the end of the deer, and sometimes even your car.
David Silverman/Getty Images
Similar to goats, a cattle herd might sometimes need to cross where cars would also like to go.
Even a .01 blood alcohol content (BAC) can impair driving, reports a new large-scale study, which found small amounts of alcohol made drivers nearly twice as likely to be at fault in an accident with a sober driver.
“We find no safe combination of drinking and driving — no point at which it is harmless to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car,” lead researcher and University of San Diego sociologist David Phillips said in a press release.
The researchers analyzed 570,731 fatal collisions between 1994 and 2011 from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) database.
“Our data support both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s campaign that ‘Buzzed driving is drunk driving’ and the recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board, to reduce the legal limit to BAC 0.05 percent,” Phillips said. “In fact, our data provide support for yet greater reductions in the legal BAC.”
In fact, the researchers found that even a BAC of .01 — the equivalent of one or two drinks, depending on weight and gender, and below the U.S. legal limit of .08 — are 46 percent more likely to be “officially and solely blamed” by accident investigators than the other driver (if the other driver is sober).
The researchers also found no evidence that any certain level of BAC dramatically changes driving habits. Instead, they found a gradual upward trend starting at .01 BAC. But in the United States, “buzzed” drivers are not usually blamed, Phillips said. Instead, police, judges and the public view the legal limit of .08 percent as “a sharp, definitive, meaningful boundary.”