Missouri motorists, as well as those in many other states, are used to seeing the roadside memorials created by relatives and friends of those whose lives have ended in traffic accidents.
Usually, the memorials have artificial flowers and a cross carefully arranged at the spot where the deadly tragedy occurred.
From time to time, some states consider restricting or prohibiting these memorials, which mean so much to those who put them along our highways. A handful of states have restrictive laws, but most, like Missouri, take a more commonsense approach.
While not encouraging the flower wreaths and crosses, the Missouri Department of Transportation treats the memorials with compassion and understanding. The memorials are moved or removed only if they are hazardous to other motorists, which rarely happens.
MoDOT also suggests that those who want to remember loved ones or friends can participate in the department's adopt-a-highway program. This allows those left behind to be involved in a useful and productive program of keeping our highways cleared of litter. There are about 100 such adopt-a-highway memorials around the state.
While memorials are so important to those who grieve, they also remind other motorists about stretches of highway where caution and prudence can save lives. It is almost impossible to pass a display of flowers and a cross without thinking of the consequences of being careless or not paying attention while behind the steering wheel.
Unless and until roadside memorials become a hazard to other motorists, they tend to serve a useful purpose on many levels. All of us who use Missouri's highways should take heed when we see these special markers along the way.