Road traffic accident research

Is the risk of traffic accidents and the severity of them related to the level of tree canopy cover?

This research project assesses the potential association between roadside tree canopy and road traffic accidents in Sydney's metropolitan area. Although there is now a rapidly growing literature on the mental, physical and social health and climatic benefits of street trees, there remains a concern among some traffic planners that street trees may increase the risk of a road traffic accident occurring and/or increase the risk of serious consequences for health of the drivers/passengers in errant vehicles. This concern may be a stumbling block for street tree planting strategies designed to intersect with and add value to investments in active travel infrastructure i.e. trees as providers of natural shade and cooler temperatures along footpaths and cycle lanes. The analyses being done will feed into a larger project led by Blacktown City Council that is focussed on conducting a benefit-cost analysis of street trees.

Project Team:

Chief Investigator Professor Xiaoqi Feng, University of New South Wales

Professor Thomas Astell-Burt, University of Wollongong

Professor Glen Maberly, Western Sydney Diabetes

Matthew O’Connor, Manager Recreation Planning and Design, Blacktown City Council

Associate Professor Sebastian Pfautsch, Associate Professor in Urban Management and Planning, Geography, Tourism & Planning

Charles Casuscelli, Chief Executive Officer Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC)

Participating Institutions:
NSW Department of Planning and Environment

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

The George Institute of Global Health

University of Wollongong (UOW)


Western Sydney Diabetes

Acknowledgement of funding:

This project is funded by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Professor Xiaoqi Feng

Professor Thomas Astell-Burt

Matthew O’Connor

Associate Professor Sebastian Pfautsch

Professor Glen Maberly