Pros, Cons of Roadside Memorials StudiedNovember 12th, 2008 by josh farley
Do roadside memorials for those killed in car crashes remind motorists to drive more safely or cause more accidents because they are distracting?
This is a question I’ve long pondered and an issue to which our newspaper has devoted a special report.
It’s also a topic of a study conducted by the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary in Canada. The bottom line: the authors found the memorials appear to “have significant short-term safety benefits,” and at very least, “There does not appear to be any downside in allowing roadside memorials.”
Here’s more from the study, led by Professor Richard Tay, from the University of Calgary’s web site:
Tay’s study shows that the markers appear to have significant short-term safety benefits. As part of his study, he placed mock-up memorials at selected intersections with red light cameras within the City of Calgary. In the six weeks after the markers were installed, nearly 17 percent fewer drivers ran red lights than in the six weeks prior to installation.
Keep in mind there’s a difference between a makeshift memorial (with flowers, crosses and other remembrances) and a county or state sponsored sign (i.e. “Please Don’t Drink and Drive”).
Our own county has been altering its own roadside memorial policy in recent years. The current policy, approved by the county commissioners this year, mandates that its blue signs remain up for a decade. Signs through the state (the white signs) remain indefinitely.
Roadside memorials have become a phenomenon the world around. They are heartfelt here in America because we lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 43,000 people per year on our roads in crashes.
Aside from the study, what are your personal views on the roadside memorial question? Do they help or hinder traffic safety?