Are Roadside Memorials Legal?

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Cremations are one of the cremation services offered in Dayton, OH. But, in addition to having a more structured memorial service after someone who was in a car accident is cremated, it is also common to see roadside memorials (known in Spanish as descansos) pop up at the place near or where the accident occurred.

These memorials are usually set up by family members and friends. They may include flowers, stands with inscriptions for the deceased, religious symbols, pictures, notes left by survivors, stuffed animals, colorful balloons or ribbons, artwork, solar-powered lights, and food or beverages.

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These roadside memorials can be almost anywhere along the roads we drive. They might be at intersections, guardrails, or curves in the road, or they may be set off the road near trees, fields, or creeks. In any case, they most often are placed at as close as possible to the exact location where the fatal accident happened.

Roadside memorials may seem like a modern way to memorialize someone’s death, but their history is actually several centuries old. Roadside memorials have a Latino heritage. Not only were religious memorials held, but the actual place where the dead took their last breath was also used for a more personalized memorial.

Roadside memorials are pretty common throughout the United States, but this spontaneous way of memorializing people who have died is ubiquitous throughout the southwestern states of America.

However, no culture has the corner of the market on roadside memorials. This custom can be found throughout the world, irrespective of traditional funeral religious and secular traditions.

But the question remains as to whether these roadside memorials are legal or not. Opinions on their presence are varied.

Clearly, family and friends of the person or people who were killed in the accident support roadside memorials as a way to honor the memories of those they lost. However, there are people who object to them for a number of reasons.

One objection is that roadside memorials can create a hazard for motorists because they can limit vision or block signs and because they can cause drivers to get distracted from the task of driving, creating the risk of further accidents happening at the same spot.

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Another objection is the use of religious symbols in the roadside memorials. Some people believe that religious symbols used on public property violate the United States constitution, which separates church and state. Other people consider the use of these religious symbols in a roadside memorial to be sacrilegious.

People other than family members and friends of the deceased who support roadside memorials think they serve a useful purpose in getting drivers to slow down or to drive more carefully and to warn drivers about dangerous stretches of roads.

Some people think that roadside memorials aren’t any more distracting than road signs and advertising signs that already clutter the highways and byways in the United States.

Because personal opinions are so different, the legality of roadside memorials is regulated at the state level. Some states, like North Carolina, Oregon, Montana, and Indiana prohibit roadside memorials. Other states, like Florida and Washington, prohibit personal roadside memorials but allow state-approved roadside signs with the names of the deceased and a safe driving warning to be installed (families must request and pay for the signs).

Ohio does allow roadside memorials, but they must conform to Ohio laws regulating them.

For more information about cremation services offered in Dayton, OH, our caring and knowledgeable staff at Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service is here to assist you. You can visit our funeral home at 1849 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH 45406, or you can call us today at (937) 278-4287.

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