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Roadside memorials

A roadside memorial indicates where a fatal crash has taken place. Through its work with the bereaved families, RoadPeace understands that often families and friends do not want the death to go unnoticed and they may want to establish a connection to the collision site because it was the last place that their loved one was alive.

Increasingly in our society, people pay their respects and leave tributes at road sides. Through these tributes, families often receive messages from otherwise unknown people who have been effected in some way by the collision. These tributes can provide a visible, poignant focus of grief as well as an effective warning to road users of the dangers that exist on our streets.

The placing of roadside memorials and the time-span for tributes to be left there can be subjects of significant and painful debate between bereaved families, local authorities and sometimes the media. There is a question about whether roadside memorials create further risk of a collision through distraction.

In its roadside memorial policy (link) RoadPeace calls for all local authorities and police forces to treat families bereaved by a road crash with respect and sensitivity. It asks for all local authorities to have a policy concerning roadside memorials so that bereaved families know in advance what will happen to tributes and memorials. It asks that local authorities have the same policy for roadside memorials as they do for other victims of violent crime, such as police killed on duty, knife or gun crime.

RoadPeace asks all local authorities to use this internet memorial site when the removal of personal tributes is necessary. When Ben Kinsella was stabbed to death in London in 2008, the Metropolitan Police and Islington Council showed great sensitivity to the victim's family and people who had left tributes. They passed on all tributes to the family. Before removing them, they photographed them at the scene and placed the photos onto a memorial website as a lasting tribute. They left a note at the roadside to direct people who wanted to leave tributes to the website memorial. The same respect should be shown to families of those killed on our roads.

RoadPeace actively campaigns for road danger reduction, to reduce the need for roadside memorials, but it acknowledges that where a fatal crash has occurred there is a need for a memorial in response to private grief and raising public awareness.