Comment of the Week: South Dakota’s official road fatality markers

Comment of the Week: South Dakota’s official road fatality markers

think sign

An idea from another state.

I’ve rarely seen BikePortland readers as frustrated as many seemed to be beneath Wednesday’s post about the state of Oregon’s decision to remove temporary memorials to people killed on state roads because they (the memorials, not the people who were killed) might cause people to slow down or stop while driving.

A huge wave of upvotes backed many of the black-humor responses that followed.

But amid the well-written venting was an interestingly constructive suggestion: if Oregon feels that handmade memorials are distracting, maybe it should create its own official memorials instead — just like South Dakota does.

That was the comment from BikePortland reader GlowBoy, who (if I’ve been following his comments correctly) recently relocated from Portland to Minneapolis:

I think we should have a monument to remember every single person who’s been killed by (or on) a road facility.

Oregon ought to enact the same law requiring signs like those in South Dakota, marking EVERY SINGLE SPOT where a person has died on their roads. SD may not be considered a very progressive state, but I think it’s a brilliant idea and should be copied everywhere.

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The SD signs have a big red “X” and “Marks the Spot”, followed by “THINK!” on one side and “WHY DIE?” on the other. The signs are actually fairly small and off to the side of the road, so presumably they’re less “distracting” than big cutouts, but they are there.

And when you come to an intersection with half a dozen of them scattered around it really does make you think.

GlowBoy went on to add that “Why Kill?” might be a better question than “Why Die?”

ODOT’s wanting to control signage along its roads isn’t unreasonable. But the context here — and the thing that memorials like South Dakota’s reveal — is that people are dying on the same streets again and again. These streets have much bigger problems than the unexpected appearance, for a few days, of ghosts.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to GlowBoy in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

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