Authorities Express Concerns Over Makeshift Roadside Memorials

BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers in New Jersey are working to find a balance across the state between expressions of grief and distractions along highways after fatal motor vehicle accidents.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, many families create the makeshift roadside memorials after a loved one is killed in an accident.

“Anytime you lose a loved one you want to remember them and not just family, but others in the community as well,” Bayonne resident David Taylor said.

Now, there’s a proposal in the New Jersey State Assembly to formalize that recognition.

“Currently there is no law applying to it so a lot of families create these ad hoc memorials and sometimes they are a distraction to drivers,” State Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti tells CBS2. “Sometimes the state takes them down.”

Chiaravalloti is sponsoring the proposed legislation.

“The idea was to allow families to permanently memorialize members they lost along New Jersey highways,” he said.

Most residents in Bayonne said they like the idea of a small, uniform plaque.

“Just a plaque would be beneficial to everyone,” resident Dan Gregory said. “Respect the memory of a loved one and avoid a future accident.”

“A placard is nice,” resident Carla Casanova said. “Stay there forever, people put teddy bears and stuff that kind of get wet, damaged, or ruined.”

Chiaravalloti says the bill still has a few kinks to work out.

“It would become too costly and there would be a significant time delay in recognizing a grief period,” he said. “So we are working on that right now.”

The New Jersey Department of Transportation says it is sensitive to the grieving process and works with state and local police departments to decide if the placement of a given memorial is a danger to the public due to its proximity to the roadway.

As it stands now, if a memorial is determined to be hazardous the DOT will attempt to contact family members and let them know it has to be removed.

The new proposal has a long way to go before being passed, CBS2 reports. Delaware currently allows families to purchase memorial bricks placed at rest stops to remember their loved ones.

Most states ban memorials altogether.

 

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