Green crash cushions

Vegetation can be used as crash cushions.  For instance the Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales write that frangible vegetation in the median provides the following benefits: “Can screen headlight glare” and “Provides a crash cushion effect” (Landscape Guideline 2008) .

Below is an example of planting on an Australian freeway where plants are used on the approach side of a bridge pier.  The location is the Conroys Road flyover of the Western Highway.  All sourced from

Note: In Australia driving is on the left hand side.


Satellite views:Conroys Lane Overpass Satellite View


Conroys Lane Overpass


Approach side: Conroys Lane Pier Approach


Departure side:Conroys Lane Pier Looking Back


About John Culvenor

Hi, Thank you for taking a look at this blog. I work in engineering, ergonomics, creativity, design, training, etc. Often this is about helping solve legal puzzles through accident analysis. Sometimes it is about thinking up better designs for equipment, workplaces, and systems. This blog is about good design and bad design, accident analysis and how it can be done better, and how we can make a better, safer world by design!
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5 Responses to Green crash cushions

  1. Hi John,
    This is not new I recally in late 50’s to mid 70’s that heavy bushy plants were often planted for specifically this, often blackberry ( until it became a real problem was used it not only shielded the glare of oncoming lights, it also tangled up around cars and brought them to a rapid stop without killing folks. Interestingly councils /shires began removing the bushy type growths and planted Trees instead with the expected carnage for vehicles hitting hard objects at speed. just a blast from the past with regards my memory, Cheers,

  2. Hi Andrew, Yes, good point. Not a new idea. But one that perhaps needs to make a comeback especially for developing countries who may be trying to improve the safety of the network and need good-value solutions.

    The post came up because of a conversation on Linkedin [] where people questioned whether green crash cushions really existed as a strategy and wanted an example with images.

    The blackberries sound like an interesting option. Very hardy and a complex web of material. Likely to cause less damage to the vehicle than mechanical barriers. But a bit of spiky hassle in getting out of/to the car!

  3. Agreed however you come out alive from crashing through Blackbwerry bushes. Extremely effectivre as a soft barier that would stop all cars and bikes and capable of stopping heavy vehicles is bushes thick enough.

    • Fair point. Better to get a few spikes. Perhaps a non-spiky similar plant is available to get the best of both worlds?

      Who will test these ideas though? No one. You can’t make money from planting things at the same rate you can selling barriers – and fixing them.

  4. Peter Boylan says:

    Selling barriers is not the point. As far as Boylan Group is concerned we are here to save lives.
    The idea of green vegetation has some real benefits however in Australia in some areas they can hide animals that can jump out or cross the road without you seeing them until they have hopped right in front of you.. We sell BarrierGuard 800 steel barriers. Please look at our website.
    Thankyou. Peter Boylan

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