South Carolina finds roadside memorials too dangerous, offers plaques

Instead of risking your own life to set up a bunch of flowers and photos on the roadside to remember your loved one lost in a tragic accident, the S.C. Department of Transportation is offering memorial signs.

For a fee of $250 you can get your own memory plaque for two years. 

The announcement does not appear to ban or indicate the agency will begin removal of the old ad hoc memorials.

Here's all the info from the press release:

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) will allow immediate family members to apply for a new standard roadside memorial sign to honor loved ones who were lost in traffic crashes on the state’s highways. 

The 24” x 24” main sign will read “DRIVE SAFELY.” A 24” x 12” memorial plaque will include the phrase “IN MEMORY OF” followed by the victim’s name. An anonymous identification such as “A LOVED ONE” can also be used.

Transportation Secretary H. B. Limehouse Jr. said it was time to create a standard for roadside memorials. “In years past, families that have lost loved ones have put their own lives in danger when placing memorials along roadsides. The SCDOT memorials will provide a dignified and safe way to honor their lost family members. The uniform memorial and plaque will provide a safe remembrance for lost love ones, but our commitment is still focused on reducing fatalities and the need to place these memorials,” said Limehouse.          

Department of Public Safety Director Mark Keel said, “The memorials should provide some comfort for victims’ families, while also serving to remind passing motorists to remain alert and to drive safely.” 

  • Immediate family members (parents, children, spouse, siblings, grandparents or grandchildren) may request a memorial.
  • The fee for manufacturing, erecting and maintaining the sign is $250.  
  • Applications should be made within one year of the crash date unless an exception is granted by the Secretary of Transportation.
  • Only one sign per incident will be erected.  In the case of multiple victims a larger sign may be used to include all names on one plaque.
  • In the event of conflicting wishes among immediate family members, no sign will be erected or the sign will be removed if it’s already in place. 
  • Signs will be installed on the right-hand side of the road. No signs will be erected in the median or on the left-hand side of the road. 
  • SCDOT will make every effort to install the signs at the approximate location of the crash site. However signs will not be placed in front of a residence or business and cannot create a distraction from traffic control devices. 
  • SCDOT can only erect signs on state highways. The agency does not have the authority to place them on city or county roads.
  • In the case of an interstate highway, memorial signs will be placed in a dedicated area at the nearest welcome center or rest area. 
  • SCDOT reserves the right to temporarily remove or relocate a sign at any time for highway maintenance or construction. 
  • Signs will remain in place for two years. Following the two-year period, the sign will be taken down. The memorial plaque will be sent to the person who applied for the sign at the address listed on the application. 
  • No signs will be erected for victims who were directly involved in criminal activity that led to their deaths, such as DUI, reckless driving, fleeing law enforcement officers, etc. 

Applications for roadside memorials will be available on the SCDOT website beginning on August 9, 2010. The application must include a copy of the accident report issued by the investigating law enforcement agency. Information on how to obtain an accident report is available on the SC Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Completed applications should be mailed to the following address:

Attn: Roadside Memorials
PO Box 191
Columbia SC 29202-0191

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