A tree planting scheme designed to slow down drivers by challenging their perceptions has sparked sharp debate among road safety professionals.
Provisional results from a pilot scheme carried out in four Norfolk villages appears to show that strategic positioning of trees led to an average speed reduction of 2mph.
However, the scheme has raised concerns about the potential dangers that the trees could pose, particularly to motorcyclists (see comments below).
Norfolk County Council planted 200 trees in four villages – Martham, Horstead, Mundesley and Overstrand – in an effort to reduce average speeds by two to three miles per hour and cut accidents by 20%. There had been 20 crashes in the rural spots over a five-year period.
The top photo shows one of the roads prior to the planting of the trees, while the bottom photo shows the same road after the trees were planted.
If the DfT considers the £70,000 scheme a success, it could be offered to other local authorities.
Stuart Hallett, Norfolk casualty reduction manager, said: “It’s a good result for what is a very cheap method.
“If you are staying at a constant speed, your peripheral vision (which takes in the trees) is giving you the impression you are going faster than you actually are. People hit the brakes before they hit the village.
"What we tried to do in some locations was get over this idea of the village dominating the road environment, not the road dominating the village, so the driver’s perspective is ‘I am travelling through a community, I need to respect that and slow down’."
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