MIDWEST STATES POOLED FUND PROGRAM
Tree Removal Marketing Program
Sponsoring Agency Code
TPF-5(193) Supplement 82
Numerous studies exist which provide recommendations on protection or removal of trees along roadsides. However, state DOTs do not have a good way to disseminate this information to their staff and the public. In addition, there is a need to make the public aware of the statistics involved with tree impacts and the safety issue that roadside and median trees pose. The collection and improved presentation of data would provide states with effective methods for educating designers, politicians, and the driving public as well as advance efforts to reduce the number of roadside trees and the associated hazard they pose to motorists.
Trees are naturally-occurring roadside fixed objects that can be found almost anywhere along the road, which effectively increases their severity through increased exposure. Tree size and strength make them rigid point hazards that have been responsible for many fatalities and serious injuries during run-off-road crashes. According to the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) from 1999 through 2009, approximately 37,000 fatal crashes have occurred each year in the U.S. In addition, nearly one third of all fatal crashes have involved a collision with a fixed object when categorized by first harmful event. Over the same time period, over 8 and 26 percent of total fatal crashes and fixed-object fatal crashes, respectively, have occurred into roadside trees and shrubbery. Each year from 1999 through 2009, fatal crashes into trees and shrubbery were found to exceed all other fixed-object categories. As an example, in 2009, there were over 4,000 fatalities from tree impacts in the U.S.
Over the last 30 years, numerous studies have been conducted that resulted in guidance on tree removal and/or protection. However, this information is spread across many research reports. Consequently, decision makers often do not have all of the facts and research when deciding to remove or plant new trees. Thus, they are often making decisions without assessing the involved safety risks.
The objective of this research effort is to develop marketing strategies that would advise state DOTs and the public about the statistics and safety risks associated with roadside trees. In addition, this research should investigate methods for prioritizing treatment of the hazard posed by roadside and median trees.
This research effort will begin with a literature search to compile previous research, guidance, and recommendations related to roadside trees for use in marketing and outreach efforts. A survey of state DOTs will be conducted to determine what marketing and outreach approaches have been successful in affecting tree removal or treatment. A summary report will then be compiled containing the results of the literature search as well as a summary of previous outreach methods. MwRSF will also contact either a UNL marketing group or an external, private firm to obtain estimates and proposals for developing outreach materials. These efforts would be outlined in the summary report as well.
Development, implementation, and dissemination of marketing and outreach tools will be outsourced to either a UNL-based or external firm. This effort would be conducted as part of a second phase of the research effort, and thus is not budgeted herein.
This project would provide outreach and marketing materials that would increase the publicâ€™s awareness for crashes with fixed objects, specifically trees, and national significance of accidents that involve roadside trees. Increasing the publicâ€™s awareness is anticipated to reduce these types of accidents.
Snapshot of Recent Developments
130 Whittier Research Center
2200 Vine Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0853
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