House approves drunken driving memorial sign program
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The House on Monday narrowly approved a program to allow the families of drunken driving victims to buy highway signs to memorialize their dead relatives.
The measure would allow families -- or close friends, if the family consents -- to pay $1,040 to get a sign for 10 years on each side of the road. It would be up to the Missouri Department of Transportation to erect and repair the signs.
All other memorials for drunken driving victims would be barred.
The signs would read: "Drunk Driving Victim!" with the person's initials and the date of the accident. Underneath that would be: "Who's Next?"
The measure was approved 82-51 -- getting the minimum number of votes needed to pass legislation in the 163-seat chamber. The legislation now goes to the Senate.
Sponsoring Rep. Bill Deeken said too little has been done to control alcohol abuse. He predicted the program would be a deterrent against drunken driving.
"It won't stop every drunk driver, but some drunk drivers will stop themselves," said Deeken, R-Jefferson City.
But Democratic critics said the program might actually make the roads less safe.
Rep. Ed Wildberger, D-St. Joseph, said inattentive driving is just as dangerous as drunken driving. He said increasing the number of roadside distractions could cause drivers to focus less on the road.
Rep. Tom Villa, D-St. Louis, said the sign program would do nothing to curtail drunken driving and might prompt tourists who see highways lined with signs about death "to wonder what kind of state Missouri is."