Highway Maintenance

Roadside Memorials

1. Introduction

1.1 It is common today for families and friends to place memorials on the highway in memory of loved ones who have died in road accidents. The County Council recognises and respects the wish of the bereaved to mark road deaths in this way but has a duty to keep the public highways safe. The County Council therefore has to balance the wishes of the bereaved with public safety. The distraction of motorists and the safety of those placing or maintaining memorials are the overriding safety issues in the consideration of road side memorials.

1.2 The Highways Act 1980 has no express provision to licence or permit memorials on the highway.

1.3 Not-withstanding the above, a number of Highway Authorities have been criticised in the media for insensitive intervention and handling of the situation by insisting that all types of memorials are removed after a short time. The Scottish Authorities produced a procedure for managing the demand for roadside memorials and Hampshire County Council has adopted a policy which follows a similar line. It is Hampshire County Council’s aim that all situations such as this are dealt with in a sympathetic, understanding and sensitive way and that, where and when appropriate, staff will liaise with those who wish to place memorials on the highway via the Hampshire Constabulary Roads Policing Unit, family liaison officer.

1.4 The Hampshire Constabulary Roads Policing Unit endorses the approach outlined.

2. Relevant Legislation and Documentation

2.1 Highways Act 1980 Section 132

2.2 Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002

2.3 RoadPeace. The national charity for road crash victims - web site address www.roadpeace.org

3. Policy

3.1 Low key memorials such as the discrete placing of a small floral tribute or small soft toys at certain times of the year and for limited durations at the roadside may be acceptable provided that there is no significant risk of driver distraction or undue risk to the individual visiting the location. Any items should be placed clear of any locations where highway maintenance is likely to be undertaken, e.g. grass cutting. They should also be placed away from locations that are hazardous to access, such as carriageway central reservations, roundabout central islands and other road junctions.

3.2 Permanent monuments will not be permitted on the highway and should be removed on safety grounds.

3.3 In these situations the bereaved should be contacted and encouraged to accept an alternative memorial such as appropriate planting of a shrub or tree in keeping with the location. Contact shall be made through the Hampshire Constabulary Road Policing Unit family liaison officer.

3.4 The Hampshire Constabulary Road Policing Unit family liaison office has been made aware of this policy and has been asked to encourage assistance by relaying details of this policy to the family and friends of the bereaved.

4. RoadPeace ‘Remember Me’ signs

4.1 RoadPeace has promoted the placing of small memorial signs saying ‘remember me’ to mark road accident fatalities. The signs presently have no official sanction with the Department For Transport (DfT) and hence there is no current authority or guidance for the County Council to approve the placing of these signs on street furniture. They are therefore not authorised until further advice is received from the DfT.

These signs are usually put up instead of roadside flowers or memorials and may in future provide a low maintenance and a more acceptable alternative should they be approved by the DfT. There are concerns however about the potential proliferation of these signs should they be widely used and promoted.

Version No:   1.2

Effective from:   14/10/2010

If copied or printed, this document should be treated as uncontrolled and correct only at the date it was copied or printed.