Driving Safely in Spain: How Oleanders Enhance Road Safety in Marbella and Costa del Sol

Spain is renowned as one of the safest countries in Europe to drive in, ranked tenth by the European Transport Safety Council. The country’s traffic authorities are constantly implementing improvements to minimize risks, and today, most of Spain’s motorways and dual carriageways are equipped with extensive safety features. These include multiple lanes, wide shoulders, and numerous exits and entrance ramps.

In Marbella and the broader Costa del Sol region, an unusual but highly effective safety measure is employed extensively: oleander trees. These vibrant bushes, adorned with beautiful white or pink flowers, line the central median strips of high-capacity roads across southern Spain, serving a critical function beyond mere decoration.

The Role of Oleanders in Road Safety

Oleanders are exceptionally tough and grow dense foliage and branches, making them an ideal barrier to prevent vehicles from accidentally crossing into opposite lanes. Their tall stature helps minimize the dazzle from headlights at night, enhancing visibility and reducing nighttime driving hazards. Additionally, oleanders help muffle traffic noise, creating a more pleasant driving experience.

The resilience of oleanders makes them particularly suited to the arid conditions of southern Spain, including the Costa del Sol. They thrive in infertile soil and can endure the dry climate, ensuring these natural barriers remain effective year-round.

Maintenance and Safety Considerations

However, oleanders require regular maintenance to ensure they do not become a hazard themselves. If left unpruned, these hardy trees can grow up to three meters in height, creating a potentially dangerous tunnel effect. The General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) explains that this tunnel effect results from ‘perceptual cataclysm.’ As traffic speed increases, the angle of vision narrows, reducing the ability to perceive objects and other vehicles on the road.

To prevent this, regular pruning is essential to maintain visibility and ensure the oleanders continue to provide their protective benefits without compromising road safety.


Driving through Marbella and the Costa del Sol, it’s easy to overlook the oleander trees lining the highways. Yet, these colorful bushes play a crucial role in maintaining the safety of Spain’s roads. Their dense foliage, tall growth, and resilience to harsh conditions make them an effective natural barrier, reducing the risk of accidents and enhancing the overall driving experience.

As Spain continues to be a safe destination for drivers, the strategic use of oleanders demonstrates the innovative and effective measures implemented by traffic authorities to protect motorists. So, next time you’re cruising along the scenic routes of the Costa del Sol, remember the humble oleander and its contribution to your safe journey.