Go at your own pace, chase your dreams, and close your windows tight

This column published as "Laws of the Jungle" in May/June 2021 issue

David Matthews / May 05, 2021 / 3 minute read
David Matthews

Anyone who lives in Atlanta knows how backed up the highways get, but human commuters aren’t the only ones at fault.

On a Saturday morning in April, a cow managed to escape from a livestock trailer and began running through the westbound lanes of I-285, bringing one of the busiest roadways in the country to a stop.

Police from the northern suburb of Dunwoody gave chase and eventually—with the help of a passerby with rope—were able to safely corral the cattle and tie it to a police cruiser until it could be transported back to its owner.

Dunwoody police shared photos of the incident on their Facebook page, writing, “Chasing people is a norm for officers. However, chasing cows on the interstate ... not so much.”

A cow is far from the strangest thing Atlanta police have had to chase down on a highway.

In 2019 a horse escaped its trailer as it was driving along I-75. The owners tried to catch it, but the horse kept trotting away into traffic, causing considerable backups on both sides of the highway.

Then there was the time in 2017 when a driver transporting a Bengal tiger from Florida to Tennessee stopped in Georgia to rest overnight. Suzy, the 6-year-old tiger, managed to escape from the shipment truck during the night and was discovered by startled morning commuters taking a leisurely stroll down I-75.

Buzz-worthy

A quick stop at a grocery store in April left a New Mexico man with more than he bargained for.

After just 10 minutes in an Albertsons supermarket, the man returned to his Buick to find that a swarm of 15,000 honeybees had flown in through an open window and taken over the back seat.

The man didn’t notice at first, until he started to drive away.

“Then he turned back and looked and like was, ‘Holy Cow,’” Jesse Johnson, an off-duty firefighter and paramedic, told the New York Times. “He called 911 because he didn’t know what to do.”

Johnson, who is also a hobby beekeeper, had just finished a family barbeque when the fire department called to ask for his help.

“I’ll do anything to keep people from killing the bees,” he said, figuring he could safely remove and relocate the bees to his own property.

With the protection of his beekeeper’s jacket and veil, Johnson was able to coax the bees out of the car and into an empty hive box treated with lemongrass oil to mimic the scent of the queen.

“Luckily, when bees are swarming, they’re pretty docile,” he said. “They don’t have a home to protect for a moment. It’s much more intimidating than it is dangerous.”

In less than half an hour, Johnson had all the bees loaded into his truck.

It was reported that no significant injuries resulted from the incident, though one firefighter might disagree.

“One guy got stung on the lip,” Johnson said, “and we made fun of him the next morning.”

New paw-sibilities

Ever wished your car behaved more like your dog?

Smart car designers want drivers to feel an emotional connection to their car, which they believe will increase driving pleasure and engagement, while also creating safer drivers.   

In seeking a model for a strong emotional connection, designers have taken inspiration from human-pet relationships.

In a recent study from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea, researchers tried to identify which canine behaviors elicit the most affection from their owners.

By interviewing pet owners about their interactions with their dogs, researchers learned that people love it when their dog expresses empathy, demonstrates faithfulness, and communicates their own thoughts and preferences.

Researchers then suggested ways that car technology could mimic those interactions, like playing soothing music when the driver feels agitated, opening the door and welcoming the driver when they approach, and recommending useful information or content.

Of course, not all canine emotional interactions are desirable. No pet owner wants their car to honk loudly at pedestrians, beg for gas, or exhibit a strange fascination with the rear end of other cars.

About the Author

Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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