We’ve all seen them; crafted hand-made memorials to mark the spot on the highway or road where a loved one died. Some have a cross and flowers or a stuffed animal – others are more elaborate with life-size posters and entrenched like a shrine. State officials worry that they are distractions and hazardous to drivers and may cause more accidents. They are not without controversy: some feel restrictions should be placed on them; others feel that survivors of loved ones who die on the roadways psychologically need to memoralize them at the place of death and will continue to do so, regardless of legislation and other attempts at control.
Not long ago, South Carolina, in an attempt to curb (no pun intended) numerous memorials or grave markers along our roads and highways, offered new state-provided signs to put in places where loved ones met their deaths in accidents.
Some other states have already done this; West Virginia began offering signs two years ago. Florida actually instituted a ban on roadside memorials. Florida, in 1997, provided free generic signs. You can see thousands of these signs on Florida’s roads dedicated to remembrances of place of death. West Virginia’s signs cost $200 and are in place for three years and then returned to the family.
Although there are no statistics to support states’ claim that home-made memorials are distractions and cause accidents, states also claim the markers are hazardous to lawn maintenance on public property for private reasons.
To remedy this, South Carolina is also offering signs like Florida did to replace the markers, but they are offering them at $250 each. They are printed “Drive Safely” or “In Memory of” with the deceased person’s name. They remain for two years and then the plaque is returned to the family.