Roadside Memorials

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 09, 2009 6:39 AM GMT
    I work for the Ohio Department of Transportation...and get asked many questions by the public...the hardest ones to deal with have involved the "roadside memorials" that spring up at the site of a traffic fatality. Ohio laws and ODOT policies are fairly cut and dried about the memorials....they are illegal and are considered trash on the highway.....BUT they have never been touched or removed, unless they are in a construction zone, and even then they are moved further off the side of the road or are allowed to be rebuilt and even maintained by the grieving family and friends. I don't know if it is an issue in other parts of the country or even the world, but the number of these has been exploding and they are getting progressively more elaborate and larger in size...is there a competition or some sort?
    I understand the desire to memorialize a loved ones last living spot, but isn't that the function of a cemetery or a mausoleum or even the mantle that the urn sets on, to be a quiet place to reflect and remember your loved one? Why would you want to memorialize the place and moment of death and in such a chaotic and potentially unsafe or illegal location?
    I know this is a strange topic for the forum...but I am curious what others think of the practice and if there is such an occurance in your area..how are they dealt with or just accepted?
    Thanks.
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    Apr 09, 2009 6:45 AM GMT
    Roadside memorials here consist of a simple wooden cross that disappears over time. In some cases just two sticks tied together. It's pretty common especially in the mountain highways where you can see at least one vehicular fatality on a 3 hour trip.

    That said I'm curious as to what they are making over there?
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    Apr 09, 2009 12:42 PM GMT
    Man, growing up in Ohio I noticed the trend of these memorials getting larger and larger. It's sorta disturbing actually. I dunno. Cemeteries weird me out too though.

    I actually think the simple cross was more effective as a statement. The piles of flowers, signs and stuffed animals verges on tacky and disrespectful in my view.
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    Apr 09, 2009 12:52 PM GMT
    i think they're tacky. and why memorialize the site of such tragedy? wouldn't most people rather remember their loved ones in health and happiness, rather than in a twisted burning wreck of shorn metal and broken glass?

    it bears repeating: tacky.
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    Apr 09, 2009 1:12 PM GMT
    If a family member died on a roadside, I'd never EVER drive past it again, so I wouldn't want a cross anyway.
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    Apr 10, 2009 1:48 AM GMT
    Roadside memorials kinda make sense, particularly on dangerous roads. It reminds other drivers to be more cautious I suppose.

    But in terms of paying respect/condolences .. My guess is that people are reluctant or creeped out about going to a cemetery. So they chose the roadside memorial instead.

    Personally, I think it's more creepy to visit the crash site. Back in high school, a classmate crashed his car into a pole and died on scene. I went by a couple days later to check it out. Of course there were flowers and notes. But the other thing I noticed was the smell of decomposing blood and body fluids. It was surreal.
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    Apr 10, 2009 2:46 AM GMT
    What do they look like? Do you have pics of examples? I dont know if this phenomenon has made its way down to Virginia. I have never heard of this.
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    Apr 10, 2009 2:49 AM GMT
    I've never thought memorials belonged on the side of the road. That's what a cemetery is for.
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    Apr 10, 2009 2:51 AM GMT
    these are pretty common in greece (boy racers and all)
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    but I don't think they're tacky. However, I think criticising how someone chooses to remember a loved one is.
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    Apr 10, 2009 4:20 AM GMT
    I can understand the logic behind them, but I don't really agree with them. The ones in our city are usually caked with mud,salt, and slush looking like a sad insult to the dead.

    However, I do remember the fatal collision that happened there when I see the tattered memorial.icon_neutral.gif
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    Apr 10, 2009 4:40 AM GMT
    Caslon10000 saidWhat do they look like? Do you have pics of examples? I dont know if this phenomenon has made its way down to Virginia. I have never heard of this.

    Some are permanent, and some are temporary. Both examples in the Wikipedia link.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roadside_memorial

    A few more..

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    roadside-memorial.jpg

    roadside_memorial.jpg
  • Bunjamon

    Posts: 3161

    Apr 10, 2009 4:55 AM GMT
    I'm not religious, nor is my immediate family. So when we drive by a roadside memorial that's a cross, my dad always seems to ask, "So, what do they do when a jew dies in a car accident?" You never see stars of David or any other symbols of other religions on the side of the road. I think it's really unnecessary to have a religious memorial on the side of the road.

    The d├ępartement where I used to live in France though had a system that I found rather poignant. Instead of a cross, they would have the silhouette of the victim of the accident (slightly smaller for children) and the age of that person; it reminded you that you needed to be careful on the road but it erased any religious connotation.
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    Apr 10, 2009 5:05 AM GMT
    You think that's bad! Try driving behind some guy with a memorial in his back window. Apparently, there are printing stores that specialize in putting:
    "Joey 1985-2008 Be with the angels" onto car rear-window sun-shades.

    Lets not forget the memorials sprinted onto the back of jeans jackets. *Ahem*Missy Elliot*ahem*
  • Mars

    Posts: 158

    Apr 10, 2009 5:37 AM GMT
    We have then everywhere here in California. I don't mind them really. I think they are meant more as a reminder to everyone, especially teen drivers who often can be a little hot headed behind the wheel, to be careful in certain places.
    Sure, the memorials usually consist of some sort of cross and flowers (usually fake) and perhaps even a photo on the rare occasion. I have NEVER seen anyone tending to these memorials but I really think that its as I said. They are not meant as a place to pay respects to the dead, but rather its the friends and family trying to remind people to be more careful.
    I just learned this morning that a friend of my family was killed yesterday when he lost control of his pick up on a wet surface and slammed into an semi truck head on. He was on his way to work and there was no alcohol involved. He had a wife and 2 young children (8 and 5) and he was my age (33). So today when his sister came to tell us the news I looked in our local newspaper to see if the story had gone to press and it had. In the story they also said that only one day before, on the same road and only a few hundred feet from where my friend was killed, there had been a similar accident with an identical outcome. Someone died. I am sure that we will be seeing some sort of maker/memorial or more likely 2 of them along that stretch of road.
    Year after year we have hundreds of fatalities on many of the roads around here like US 101 and all of the ridiculously dangerous intersections and left turn lanes that force drivers to cross interstate traffic without entrance/exit ramps of any kind or even lights. Maybe if we get enough of these memorials people will start to pay more attention and our transportation department (CalTrans) will finally get a clue and try and see how they can re-engineer these grossly outdated traffic crossings and bring them up to par to meet the needs of today's volume of traffic.
    I have never minded the presence of those roadside reminders that bad things happen out there. Every time I see one I am reminded that I need to be a little more cautious and hope the other drivers around me do too, so that everyone can have a better chance of getting back home to their loved ones for at least one more day.

    That's my 2 cents worth, anyway...
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Apr 10, 2009 6:25 AM GMT
    Here in NJ the NJDOT does not permit them, but they are everywhere and they don't take them down, if they do they are replaced overnight it seems. Unfortunately I know 2 of the young men' who have died and their families seem adament about keeping them. My cousin was killed crossing a street in the rain many years ago. Her parents chose to do a HS scholarship fund in her name.

    People grieve in different ways. I wouldn't want to have to enforce my opinion on anyone when it comes to death.icon_neutral.gif