~~BRYCE ON HIGHWAY SAFETY~~
~~By Tim Bryce~~
- Are we really honoring the deceased or creating a road hazard?
I remember when I took my first driver's license test in Ohio when I was 16. On the test they had a section where you had to identify traffic signs using multiple choice answers. For the yellow "crossroads" sign they had the following: 1-Church ahead, 2-Crossroads, and, 3-Someone died on this spot. I thought this was particularly funny and wondered how anyone could fail the test. Well, we may not use the crossroads sign but you sure see a lot of roadside traffic death markers out there, usually in the form of a small cross with lots of flowers around it and perhaps other things related to the deceased, such as stuffed toys.
Roadside memorials are actually not new. They've been around for years and are normally built by the deceased's loved ones. Some states allow them, others do not. Some are temporary, some are permanent. Some are plain and simple, others are a bit more lavish (and an eyesore). If you scan the Internet you'll see numerous examples of them.
Although they've been around for a long time, I've noticed these road memorials have become more prolific lately, popping up just about everywhere. Down here in Florida it is not unusual to see them on major thoroughfares, such as US19 and the legendary Alligator Alley. Offhand, I don't have a problem with such markers on quiet roads but they are becoming a bit distracting on the major roads and highways, often leading to additional traffic problems. I would find it sadly ironic if one roadside memorial would lead to the death of another person, but I'm sure it has already happened.
For the loved ones left behind, I'm sure you mean well and I'm sorry for your loss, and I don't want to appear insensitive, but you are doing a disservice to the memory of your dearly departed by creating a traffic safety hazard. If these roadside memorials go unchecked, highways will eventually look more like Arlington Cemetery than the road to Miami.