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Why green road stretches reduce driving stress and accidents

Planting more trees not only tackles pollution levels but also brings down road accidents, a recent study in Mexico showed.

delhi Updated: Sep 13, 2016 16:14 IST
Soumya Pillai
Planting more trees not only tackles pollution levels but also brings down road accidents, a recent  study in Mexico showed.
Planting more trees not only tackles pollution levels but also brings down road accidents, a recent study in Mexico showed. (Hindustan Times)

Planting more trees not only tackles pollution levels but also brings down road accidents, a recent study in Mexico showed.

A citizen-led initiative, the Via Verde Project, in Mexico City, has turned highway pillars in the city into vertical gardens. After the pillars were planted with saplings, the group conducted a study on the stretch from December last year to June this year, which showed that not only had the pollution levels in the area reduced but also that road accidents saw a sharp decline.

Back home too, data shows that greener areas in the capital had fewer cases of road accidents and rage cases in 2015.

Last year from the New Delhi area, which is among the greenest patches of the city, no fatal road accidents were reported. Similarly, in Vasant Kunj one road death was reported while in the Delhi University area, one fatality and one injury due to road crash was reported, Delhi Traffic Police data showed. All these areas have heavy green cover as compared to the other parts of the city.

On the other hand, along arterial roads and more urbanised stretches in the city, such as the ITO crossing and the Grand Trunk Road near Shastri Park, there have been as many as 31 accidents.

In the list of the most accident-prone stretches in the city, released by the Delhi Traffic Police in 2015, Shastri Park tops the chart with a total of 31 accidents, out of which 10 were fatal. ITO crossing also witnessed 23 road accidents, four of which were fatal.

“We live in a very grey city. We have become used to that being our urban landscape. As soon as we find a green landscape, we realise our mood changes. We hope that this transformation of the urban image will not only achieve an aesthetic change in the city but will also impact the mood, increase productivity and bring stress levels down” Ernado Ortiz Monasterio, director, Viva Verde Project, in an email response. The collective plans to cover 40,000 metres of concrete cover with these vertical gardens. Mexico has been battling pollution for over a decade now and has been successful in bringing down the levels to almost half as compared to its pollution levels recorded in the 90s.

Road safety and environment experts also agree that the sight of greenery reduces stress among drivers.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said redesigning urban spaces keeping people in mind, is the first step towards urban development.

“Equitable distribution of space is very important in urban planning and green spaces are a part of the paradigm. Sitting behind the wheel through long traffic jams and constantly seeing vehicles and concretised roads and buildings makes drivers impatient. That is a major cause of road rage also,” she said.