Safe Communities

Research is proving that trees play an important role in improving street safety.  They calm drivers,  helping to reduce driver speed and accidents.  And trees and greenery have shown to lessen violence, graffiti, and other types of crime.

All of this is good news for communities that want to keep their urban areas and streets safe, increase pedestrian use and retail activity, and lower costs.  Here’s the data*:

Trees support safe driving and reduce traffic accidents.

  • A Texas study found a 46% decrease in crash rates across urban arterial and highway sites after landscape improvements were installed.
  • Studies show that narrow lanes and street trees can reduce the severity of car crashes.
  • Street landscape improvements reduced accidents in Toronto by 5% to 20%, generating significant public costs savings, and boosted pedestrian use of urban arterials.

Trees calm traffic.

  • The presence of trees in a suburban landscape signifi­cantly reduced the cruising speed of driv­ers by an average of 3 miles per hour. Faster drivers and slower drivers both drove slower with the presence of trees.
  • Mid-block islands with trees can result in up to 7% reduction in motor vehicle speeds.

Trees reduce driver stress.

  • Exposure to a natural roadside setting decreased the magnitude of driver’s stress response.
  • Highway drivers with views of natural roadsides displayed higher frustration tolerance, a known precursor of road rage.

Greenery and trees lessen violence and crime.

  • Public housing residents with nearby trees and natural landscapes reported 25% fewer acts of domestic aggression and violence.
  • There is less graffiti, vandalism, and littering in outdoor spaces with natural landscapes than in comparable plant-less spaces.
  • Apartment buildings with high levels of greenery had 52% fewer crimes than those without any trees. Buildings with medium amounts of greenery had 42% fewer crimes.

*Source: Benefits of Trees and Urban Forests: A Research List

Related Resources:
Fact Sheet- Public Health and Safety Are Tied to Green
Safe Communities Archive