Regulating roadside memorials

January 19, 2009
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Everyone has seen them while driving – the roadside memorials marking the spot where someone died with a cross, pictures, flowers, or stuffed animals. One Indiana legislator wants to regulate the erection of these by having the Indiana Department of Transportation or local government establish and maintain a roadside memorial for just one year.

At first glance, I question getting INDOT involved. These are private memorials set up by grieving family members or friends to remember a loved one and let the general public know someone died in an accident at that location. As long as the memorial is on public property and isn’t a distraction to drivers, it should be left alone.

Plus, the estimated $92 a pop to create, maintain, and then remove them will come from the State Highway Fund. The fiscal impact statement for the bill suggests around 100 people would want a memorial, but I imagine the number would be much higher. I bet you could get 100 requests just from the more populous counties like Marion, Lake, or Allen.

But many times these memorials aren’t on public property. A woman was recently killed on a street I drive every day and now there are stuffed animals and other items fastened to the tree in the front yard of where she was killed. As I passed by, I wondered if the homeowners allowed the memorial or if they are just putting up with it for the time being. I can’t imagine I’d want stuffed animals permanently affixed in my front yard, but how do you tell a grieving family to remove them?

Rep. Vern Tincher, D-Riley, suggests in HB 1108 that INDOT or local government step in and create uniform roadside memorials to remember the victims. Any memorials that pop up that aren’t erected by the government would be removed and all memorials would be taken down after one year. This isn’t the first time Indiana has tried to regulate roadside memorials. In 2003, a similar bill was introduced by Rep. Duane Cheney, D-Portage.

A state or locally regulated process would cut down on the distractions of giant teddy bears and other objects on the side of the road or tethered to trees. Regulation would also help private property owners when family members want to mark the site of a death. However, is it really the government’s place to do so with state funds?
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  • They SO need to ban these roadside memorials. They are ugly and tacky. If they were to limit it to attractive vegetation or a state-approved marker, it would be nice. As it is, though, people are allowed to decorate the spot where their loved one died with all kinds of tacky crap that sits out in the weather and becomes moldy, wet, and deteriorated. There is one behind my apartment building that has sat there for FOUR MONTHS and the city is too cowardly to make them remove it. I\'m sick of looking at that disgusting trash. It\'s not a memorial if it\'s garbage. What would you call wet, moldy stuffed animals other than garbage? Families should grieve in private. I should not have to be subjected to a bunch of tacky, ghetto-looking junk on public thoroughfares.
  • I AGREE THEY SOULD NOT BE ALLOWED THATS WHY OUR SOCIETY HAS GRAVE YARDS BUT GRAVE YARDS HAVE RULES . THE ROADSIDE MEMORIAL ACROSS THE STEET FROM MY DRIVE WAY GLOWS IN THE DARK FAKE FLOWERS CONSTANT GARBAGE FROM VISTORS TEENAGERS DOING BURNOUTS EVEN HEAD LIGHTS ON MY BEDROOM WALL WHEN VISTORS COME CALLING AFTER CLOSING TIME AT THE BAR. EVEN IF I GRILL A PORK CHOP THEY ARE HERE!!!!!!!!! THEY GET TO ENJOY THEIR PROPERTY BUT WE PUT UP WITH CONSTANT STREAM OF PEOPLE. IT\'S NOW 15 MONTHS INTO THIS AND I CANNOT BELIEVE SOCIETY PUTS UP WITH THIS OR FORCES US TO LIVE LIKE THIS

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

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