Texas Death Markers.

Homemade Roadside Death Memorials In Limbo In Texas

According to a story in PR Week, homemade highway death memorials -- which show up on the side of the highway, commemorating where loved ones have been killed in a traffic accident, and usually including plastic flowers, small whirligigs, and a small cross for each person killed--may or may not be a violation of Texas policy.

This past summer, highway workers in the town of Tyler caused a stir when they removed some of these markers, claiming that they did not meet state criteria. The Texas DOT first responded to the Tyler hubbub by issuing a moratorium on further removal of homemade highway death memorials, while drafting a proposal to standardize the memorials on breakaway poles, which would be left up for 2 and 1/2 years, then given to the families of the deceased. This proposal would have expanded a policy first negotiated in 1986 with MADD to allow memorials for those killed in non-alcohol-related accidents.

However, on the week before Thanksgiving, after an emotionally charged public meeting, The Texas Transportation Commission has "tossed a hot PR potato back to its staff by indefinitely tabling a proposal on roadside memorials." The state worries about people who put themselves at risk tending to the homemade highway death memorials along busy roadways, while some fear that the memorials themselves constitute a safety hazard. Thirteen states already regulate homemade highway death memorials.

[12/03/2000]

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