When a tragedy happens on a state highway, there typically are many people who are stricken with grief and struggling for a way to remember their loved one. Many also ask what they can do to prevent this from happening to another family.

A new roadside memorial policy from the Nebraska Department of Transportation may have caused some concern among families who want to memorialize a loved one who died in a traffic crash. But families should see this as a way to ensure that they have a way to do just that while ensuring they do not pose hazards to people driving on state highways.

The state has started a process for families to apply for a memorial that will be created by the state and placed as close to the scene of the crash as possible. Immediate family members can now apply for a NDOT-produced sign to be erected in a requested location in the state right of way as a memorial for two years after installation.

"We want to recognize grieving families while balancing our responsibility of increasing safety on Nebraska’s highway system," said Kyle Schneweis, the state’s transportation department director.

Each memorial sign will include a safety message chosen by the family from five available options: "Please Drive Safely"; "Seat Belts Save Lives"; "Don’t Drink and Drive"; "Don’t Text and Drive"; "Don’t Drive Impaired" and will also display the name of the individual being memorialized.

The department has emphasized that it will continue to work with family members who currently have private memorials on the state highway system. Those families are encouraged to contact their local NDOT office to discuss the memorial and get information regarding installation of a new memorial sign.

There is a $50 charge to cover cost of making the memorial. The application and information about the memorials can be found online at dot.nebraska.gov/safety/. Applications can be completed electronically or printed and filed with the Nebraska Department of Transportation, Communications and Public Policy Division.

It’s understandable that memorials created by individual families in the past could have created safety hazards. This new process will ensure that they can be placed safely and help grieving families memorialize their loved ones.

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