Legislation Assembly Democrats R. Bruce Land, Bob Andrzejczak and Nicholas Chiaravalloti sponsored to help families formally honor loved ones who died in a motor vehicle accident was advanced Wednesday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-3319) would direct the Department of Transportation to establish a roadside accident memorial program. The program would enable the next of kin of a person who died in an accident to sponsor a roadside sign memorializing the individual.
“Family and friends will independently put together roadside memorials in honor of loved ones who died in an accident, but they sometimes can present a distraction that endangers drivers, especially if they’re very close to the road,” said Land (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “An official roadside memorial program run by the Department of Transportation will allow people to express their grief and commemorate a loved one without compromising public safety.”
“When a family member dies in a traffic accident, people want a way to keep that person’s memory alive. The problem at present, however, is that it often involves taking over public property for personal use without approval,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland). “With a formal program, New Jersey can eliminate any discrepancies about who owns the sign and who’s responsible for maintaining the area.”
“New Jersey had more than 600 motor vehicle fatalities last year. Those people meant something to their loved ones, and it’s important for our state to provide them with a way to safely and legally honor them,” said Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson). “The state’s roadside accident memorial program will allow people to rest assured that they’ll have a lasting, authorized site to honor the person they lost.”
Under the legislation, the next of kin seeking a sign would be required to complete an application with the following information:
- The name of the deceased;
- The date and location of the accident;
- An affidavit by the applicant that the individual to be memorialized was fatally injured in the traffic accident;
- Any police reports or other legal documentation related to the traffic accident available to the applicant at the time of application; and
- Any other information the commissioner of the Department of Transportation may deem reasonably necessary.
Within 60 days of receipt of the application, the department would inspect the location and send a decision as to whether a sign may be installed. Within 60 days of approval, the department would install the sign.
The legislation was advanced by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.