I have never lost a family member to a road accident and I hope I never do, however many families have to go through the horrible realisation and acceptance of such a loss every year. Location of fatal road accidents are not hard to spot, as wreaths and letters and other items are left near the accident site for many weeks/months/years after the date.
However a recent draft policy for the local government association of SA has suggested that tributes such as wreaths and letters could be removed by councils after six weeks. The LGA’s draft policy goes even further to suggest that memorials can be re-erected only on the 12-month anniversary for a period of two weeks.
I don’t know about you, but seeing flowers on the side of the road, is only a stark reminder of the dangers of the road and it brings you back to earth to realize that doesn’t matter how you drive, accidents do happen. The LGA policty reminds local councils that by law, mourners must obtain a permit to place a memorial on a road or footpath. If a permit is not obtained, they could face a penalty of up to $5000 for “altering a road“.
Currently, all around Australia, most councils turn a blind eye to the law as they see the need for a memorial to be the riht of the mourners. The draft policy is designed to help find a balance between mourners’ needs and concerns about risks to road safety, liability issues and complaints from residents living near them.
Not many people are happy about the draft policy :
“I find it hard to believe they would be a major issue any more than marker posts. I do think there are more important things for councils to worry about, particularly given the sensitive, emotional nature of these, I hope they approach with cautious sensitivity.” University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Research director, Professor Jack McLean, said
Family members of those killed in road accidents such as Elizabeth Vale father Bruce McCabe, whose 17-year-old son, Mitchell, was killed in a car crash in March, said families would be upset if a time limit was put on their grief. Mr McCabe regularly tends the accident site at the intersection of Main North Rd and Blacktop Hills Rd, Hillbank, adorned with flowers, scarfs and photos.
“I think they should be allowed to stay up for at least two years if you look after it, my son was cremated, so there’s nowhere else for his friends to go to and talk to him or whatever.” Mr McCabe said
LGA has defended its draft poclity stating that the documed came about after a great deal of thought and that the policy is still in draft form and open to feedback
“There were a number of things influencing the timeframe… after six weeks, flowers start to die, fall apart, things start blowing around.”
“This is an opportunity for people to come back and say that’s too long or too short.” LGA director of policy and public affairs Chris Russell said.
From a personal perspective, and as a driver, I have never found roadside memorials as obstructing the road or creating a safety hazard. If anything, a roadside memorial helps promote roadsafety a lot more than speed cameras or the men in blue ever could.