Roadside memorials can be seen more and more often along Czech roads. This way of coping with the death of friend or family member in a road accident spread markedly during the 1990s - twenty years after the number of road traffic fatalities reached its peak. Roadside memorials in the Czech Republic are not officially regulated by either local or traffic authorities, but they are usually illegal, because they tend to be erected on state or private property without permission. Traffic authorities unofficially tolerate such memorials as long as they do not obstruct traffic or essential road maintenance. The memorials are usually built as permanent structures intended to remind travellers of both the accident and the deceased, the majority of whom are young men. One hundred such memorials were examined in this research and almost all of them had flowers and candles and more than two-thirds featured the symbol of the cross. Such memorials are constructed and visited by the bereaved - parents and other relatives (spouse, siblings) or friends. The memorial holds a special meaning for those who built it; it represents an intimate bond with both the life and death of the victim. Drivers generally perceive such memorials as reminders that they are passing through a potentially dangerous location and that they should drive more carefully. Most drivers seem to understand the reaction of the bereaved and tolerate roadside memorials, even though this stark reminder of the violent death of a road accident victim may make them feel uncomfortable. Public memorials provide a relatively new, personalised form of expressing grief that extends private mourning into the public domain.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.