We all drive past them - a mother's flowers recently placed where a young life ended. Ten lives lost this way daily in Britain alone. We shed a tear, say a prayer, and drive more carefully - just as we should.
Some people dislike being reminded of tragedy, or find the flowers untidy or overly sentimental, and few would want all roadside verges given over to memorials. But that's alright. The bereaved only place them where their loved ones died. Flowers decay and stones get overgrown. Who could improve on that?
Politicians think they can. These posters have recently appeared all over Nottinghamshire - three on a half-mile stretch of A616 near me. Four feet tall, garish yellow, with a clever design mimicking flowers tied to the lampposts. The County Council have appropriated roadside memorials for their road safety campaign.
What are they thinking of? How can they use such cheap facsimiles of grief to advance their nannying agenda?
Nor will they do much good. Of course people would be wise to drive more carefully, but we can't ever be perfectly safe. Every time we press the accelerator we save ourselves a little journey time at a small risk of losing everything. These signs desensitise us to the real thing.
To redress the balance here are some real memorials.
Ryan, A616, Cresswell to Cuckney. Photographed March 2006
14 year old Tom Mann. Bridge over the Devon in Newark 12 September 2003
St Mary's parish church, Whitby, overlooking the harbour.
Perhaps in memory of a drowned sailor.
Sophie - Newark to Averham road April 2006
"Big Al" near Haverholme.
Anonymous near West Bretton, South Yorkshire May 2006
Flowers fade and some forget, but mothers don't.
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