! Spanish news today – Why Spain plants oleander trees in the middle of highways

Publication date: 11/06/2024

These colorful shrubs line high-capacity roads throughout southern Spain

Why Spain plants oleander trees in the middle of highways

Spain is one of the safest countries in Europe to drive in and is ranked tenth by the European Transport Safety Council. Traffic authorities are constantly making improvements to reduce risks, and today most highways and dual carriageways in the country have many safety measures, such as multiple lanes, wide shoulders and many exits and entrances.

But there is one unusual element used throughout southern Spain to protect motorists that goes largely unnoticed: oleander trees.

These colorful shrubs, usually adorned with beautiful white or pink flowers, can be seen clustered for miles along the central medians of high-capacity roads, but they are much more than decoration.

Oleanders are tricky customers and have dense leaves and branches, making them an ideal barrier to prevent cars from accidentally crossing into the opposite lane. They also tend to be very tall, so their leaves and flowers will minimize glare from headlights at night. To a lesser extent, these trees can also contribute to dull traffic noise.

However, oleanders cannot simply be left to their own devices. These hardy trees can easily grow to three meters in height and if not pruned regularly they can cause a dangerous tunnel effect. As explained by the General Directorate of Transport (DGT), the tunnel effect occurs due to what is known as ‘perceptual catastrophe’. That is, as the speed of traffic increases, the angle of view when perceiving objects (other cars) and people on the road decreases.


Image: Centro Medico Gran Via

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