Page last updated at 08:50 GMT, Thursday, 2 April 2009 09:50 UK

Are crash tributes a safety hazard?

By Tom Warren
BBC News

Roadside memorial
Several English councils have imposed rules about crash tributes

Roadside memorials to crash victims in Derbyshire will now be removed after 12 weeks amid fears they are a hazard.

But safety charities say there is little evidence they pose a danger and are questioning why councils are imposing such measures.

On a stretch of the A6 in Derbyshire is a poster remembering Mark Storer who was killed in a motorcycle crash at the spot nearly 17 years ago.

His father Derek, 71, treasures the modest sign as a way of keeping his son's memory alive.

But the local council wants to remove new roadside tributes after a time limit.

I haven't seen any research out there saying roadside memorials are a danger
Brake spokeswoman

Existing memorials will be dealt with on an individual basis after consultation with the families involved.

"I think they are over-stretching the health and safety issues. It was the place our Mark took his last breath," Mr Storer, of Belper, said.

"They [the council] said it wasn't objectionable but it would probably still come under the same ruling.

"I will replace it if it's taken down."

The scheme in Derbyshire, to be reviewed in two years, follows similar moves in Lincolnshire and East and West Sussex.

A time limit is also being considered in Cumbria.

The authorities are worried that items such as flowers distract drivers, especially if left for long periods of time.

In Derbyshire people laying tributes even need to be accompanied by police family liaison officers to ensure their safety.

Lincolnshire County Council said its policy was put in place following complaints from people about shrines outside their homes.

Derek Storer
Derek Storer says his son's poster helps keep his memory alive

But road charity Brake thinks many of the measures are misguided.

"It's no bad thing that people are being reminded that others have been killed on the roads they are driving on," a spokeswoman said.

"Some people don't like to be reminded that people die on the roads, but unfortunately that's the case, this is reality.

"I haven't seen any research out there saying roadside memorials are a danger.

"We should be doing whatever we can to support the families [of crash victims]."

We appreciate this is a very sensitive issue for people who have lost loved ones and so we felt clear guidance was needed
Clive Moesby, Derbyshire County Council

The spokeswoman said councils could be motivated by a desire to keep roads "clear and nice and tidy".

"But life's not like that," she added.

Cynthia Barlow, from RoadPeace, said she sympathised with councils but that they should act sensitively towards bereaved families.

"I understand why [councils] are saying there are safety issues but there isn't any evidence for it.

"There are things you can do by way of a living tribute and we would ask local authorities to work with the families.

"RoadPeace has a wood at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire [where families can dedicate trees]."

Derbyshire County Councillior Clive Moesby said: "People who stop at the site of a crash to place flowers or maintain tributes could be putting themselves at risk and flowers and tributes can provide a visual distraction to road users.

"We appreciate this is a very sensitive issue for people who have lost loved ones and so we felt clear guidance was needed."



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SEE ALSO
Roadside tributes to be removed
11 Mar 09 |  Derbyshire
Father defiant over road memorial
06 Mar 09 |  Derbyshire
County defends road tribute ban
16 May 08 |  Lincolnshire
Time limit for roadside memorials
28 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties
Permanent crash tributes banned
05 Sep 06 |  Southern Counties
Anger at floral tributes removal
20 Jun 06 |  Southern Counties

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