'Killer' Trees

Collisions with trees account for 1 in 12 road deaths

Deaths from tree collisions along built-up and rural roads are falling by only half the rate of reduction for all UK road fatalities. This means tree collisions now account for one in 12 UK road deaths, AA research has uncovered.

Last year, 175 fatal accidents involved vehicles striking trees, representing 8% of all UK road fatalities. Unlike road deaths in general, which have fallen by 35% since 2000, fatal tree accidents have fallen by only 18%.

hit a tree at speed and you and your passengers will be lucky to escape the crash alive The unforgiving nature of collisions with trees meant that, last year, four times more motorists were killed after hitting a tree than were killed after crashing into a lamppost.

In a sample of 10,000 car insurance claims last December, about 1% involved collisions with trees.

In rural areas, the death rate from vehicles hitting trees runs at 12% or just over one in eight road fatal accidents along non-built-up roads.

Tree-related fatal accidents steadily increased from 214 a year in 2000 to 272 in 2006, but have fallen since. Fatal accidents with lampposts during the same period have nearly halved, from 77 in 2000 to 41 in 2009.

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According to Andrew Howard, the AA's head of road safety; "Too many drivers just don't understand that trees are among the most unyielding roadside objects. Trees hit by cars often show little or no sign of even the most severe impact.

Consequently, trees have been the nemesis of extreme driving – hit one at speed and you and your passengers will be lucky to escape the crash alive. Too often, when a driver speeds, makes a bad judgment and leaves the road, it is a tree that stops the vehicle in its tracks."

"In recent years, moving lampposts back from the kerb and making signs and other man-made street furniture less 'hard' have significantly reduced casualties.

"However, trees, some with preservation orders and often immovable from the roadside, present a threat where the only defence is speed limits and road markings that try to influence driver behaviour."

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