Friday, June 04, 2010

States look for alternatives to roadside memorials

States looking to maintain distraction-free roads wonder how to deal with roadside memorials for vehicle-accident victims. The Delaware Highway Memorial Garden at the Smyrna Rest Area provides an example of one option, Mike Chalmers of USA Today reports. The 11,000-square-foot garden opened in October 2007 with 268 bricks and has grown since to now include inscriptions for nearly 600 crash victims. (Everlife Memorials photo from Gonzalitos, Tex.)

"It's something states are going to look to duplicate," Sean Slone, a transportation policy analyst with the Council of State Governments, told Chalmers. "It gets at the roadside safety issues while still giving the families an acceptable place to mourn." Art Jipson, a sociology and criminal justice professor at University of Dayton, who has studied the memorials, told Chalmers that other states, including Maryland and Illinois, have investigated building similar memorials but none have copied Delaware's lead.

Most states prohibit roadside memorials, but few enforce the laws, Chalmers reports. "Who wants to be the legislator who says we need to remove all of these?" Jipson asked. Several states, including Alaska, California, Florida, Texas and West Virginia, will put up a memorial sign at crash sites which usually includes a safe driving message. Each state has different rules regarding the duration can stay posted and how much it costs the family. Alaska signs stay up for 10 years at no cost to the family. (Read more)

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