Vehicles knock off the small branches that extend into the roadway.
This is going to be mostly speculation on my part but I’d attribute it mostly to phototropism, or the tendency of plants to grow towards the sunlight. When there are trees besides a road, it’s usually because the road was paved through a growth of trees. So if a tree is beside the road, the surrounding areas would have trees as well which block the sunlight. But the area where the road was paved would be free of trees and would provide maximum sunlight. Therefore, the tree next to the road would want to grow towards the road to gain access to as much sunlight as possible.
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