McDermed Bill Aims to Preserve Roadside Memorials for Families

State Representative Margo McDermed (R-Mokena) today filed legislation to give family members a chance to save mementos from roadside memorials in the face of expanding construction projects that may damage them.

“We’re going to see a lot of road construction over the next several years,” Rep. McDermed explained. Last year, Rep. McDermed helped secure the passage of a $45 billion dollar infrastructure investment plan dubbed Rebuild Illinois. “In the course of ongoing infrastructure investment, I want to make sure we’re respecting grieving families and extending them this courtesy.”

The Roadside Memorial Act is intended to not only afford families an opportunity to remember victims of fatal crashes, but to raise public awareness of reckless driving, drunk driving, and distracted driving as causes of these tragedies. Under the RMA, Illinoisans are allowed to create and place certain memorial markers on the side of the road where the accident occurred.

McDermed’s legislation, House Bill 4490, amends the Roadside Memorial Act to require the Illinois Department of Transportation to notify a “qualified relative” that a roadside memorial is in danger of being removed or damaged due to road construction. “Qualified relative” is defined in previous statute as an immediate relative of the deceased, by marriage, blood, or adoption. This will allow relatives and loved ones to retrieve any items from the memorial they wish to save before construction begins. Neither IDOT nor any local jurisdiction can be held liable for damaged or removed items if they are not retrieved and reasonable effort has been made to contact relatives.  

“Illinois law recognizes that grieving families want memorials to remember their loved ones with and want to prevent further tragedies by bringing attention to the cause, whether it be drinking or texting,” Rep. McDermed said. “We should also recognize that these memorials mean so much to families and they deserve a chance to preserve these keepsakes, whether it be a wooden cross, or any other items.”