Previously Posted: In Memoriam

For those new to CabbieBlog or readers who are slightly forgetful, on Saturdays I’m republishing posts, many going back over a decade. Some will still be very relevant while others have become dated over time. Just think of this post as your weekend paper supplement.

In Memoriam (16.10.09)

In Memoriam (16.10.09)At the risk of unleashing a river of vitriol I want to address roadside memorials.

As drivers we are told that nothing should distract our attention, so no mobiles, loud music, or if the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has their way, no smoking.

In the past Eva Herzigova’s advert for Wonderbra caused a string of accidents caused by male drivers being distracted by her female charms displayed on very large hoardings around London.

The appearance of these shrines in England is all the more surprising since the tradition is alien to Protestant cultures. They are contrastingly common in Spain, parts of Austria and much of South America. But I’m getting fed up with seeing these mounds of flowers, soft toys or football shirts placed at the side of the road.

Understandably relations and loved ones of the deceased will get some solace and closure from these shrines, but they are messy and distracting. You crane your neck to try to find out who the victim might be and if there are toys around the base you lose your concentration momentarily.

And what’s the point? Surely you pay your respects at the resting place of your loved one not a lamppost beside the A40. Councils will now remove any homemade signs attached to street signs, so what do they let this clutter remain at the roadside?

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents believes there are important safety messages to be drawn from the trend. “The increase in the number of shrines just highlights how dangerous our roads are,” said a spokeswoman.

But the Society is concerned that the shrines may themselves increase the risk of accidents. “It isn’t something we would like people to stop doing but it’s important they take extra care. The same applies to motorists because it’s easy for them to take their eyes off the road for even a second.”

The ghost bike memorials by Steve Allen work by just reminding drivers of the need to “think bike”. Usually these comprise of a white bike and the victim’s name. But some of these shrines are just mountains of wilting flowers.

How about a small plaque in a distinctive colour placed where people have died this could serve the dual purpose of a modest memorial and with its distinctive colour a gentle reminder to motorists.

6 thoughts on “Previously Posted: In Memoriam”

  1. The distraction issue is real, between drivers who need to text talk and play with the tech in their cars, add in the roadside memorials…very unsafe to be out there.
    We see the memorials here in the states a lot, There is comfort in grieving, especially when there is nothing else one can do. The need to express ourselves in this dysfunctional world seems great..hey, like commenting on blogs!

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    1. You’re right about being unsafe on the roads, hardly a day goes by without some idiot hell-bent on trying to kill me.

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  2. A lovely local lady was mown down by a car crossing East Finchley High Street, and we now (belatedly) have a refuge in the middle of the road where she was killed. There’s some very modest bunting around the tree next to the spot with the words ‘Carol’s Crossing’ picked out on it. It seems both fitting, and not likely to be distracting.

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    1. I rather that poignant dedication on a crossing. Very recently my friend was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing in Kensington, luckily she survived. Thanks for the comment.

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