Roadside Memorial Sign Program

The Roadside Memorial Sign Program allows people who have lost family members in roadway collisions, such as drunk driving or distracted driving, to have a sign installed in memory of the victim and to raise awareness to help prevent future crashes.

The program initially focused on DUI crashes as part of a grassroots effort by family members, but it has since expanded to several other types of fatal crashes, such as distracted driving and crashes involving pedestrians or those on bicycles. Private memorials are not allowed along state roadways due to safety considerations, but the memorial sign program give families a way to safely raise awareness about traffic safety

Signs can be installed for those killed in highway crashes on state roadways. The sign will include a safety message – such as Please Don’t Drink and Drive, Please Don’t Text and Drive, Please Watch  for Bicyclists – and then a plaque below that lists the deceased’s name or name of the sponsoring family.

Roadside Memorial Sign information

  • Signs must be requested by a family member of the deceased or if requested by a friend, must have written permission of a family member as part of the application.
  • The requestor/sponsors pay for the signs, includes manufacture and installation by WSDOT crews. The total sign costs are $500 for interstate highway on ramps, $750 for two lane highways, and $950 for non-interstate four lane highways. Replacement of any damaged signs is also paid for by the requestor/sponsor.
  • On non-interstate highways, the signs are placed near the scene of the collision, one sign for each direction of travel. For the interstate system, one sign can be installed along the on-ramp near the collision scene, in the direction of travel that the collision occurred.
  • Due to safety concerns and nearby moving traffic, requesters must agree to not visit or hold memorial gatherings at the sign site.
  • In order for DUI Memorial Signs to be installed, the driver causing the collision must have been convicted of vehicular homicide because of DUI under RCW 46.61.520 1(a), or was fatally injured and shown to be DUI based on toxicology reports.

Request a Roadside Memorial sign
To initiate the process, a letter requesting participation in the Roadside Memorial Sign Program may be sent to:
WSDOT
PO Box 47344
Olympia, WA 98504-7344
(360) 705-7289

The request letter should include:

  • The name of the deceased and their relationship to the requestor. (If a friend is requesting the sign they must include a note from the immediate family supporting the request and authorizing the friend to act on the family’s behalf).
  • The date of the collision, the state highway number and the approximate location.
  • Cause of the crash, including details about the use of alcohol or drugs, distraction, etc. (a police report is helpful in answering many of these questions).
  • Details about any charges and convictions of drivers found at fault, including whether a driver was found guilty of vehicular homicide, RCW 46.61.520 1(a) Vehicular homicide
  • Main contact for any questions about the above information or other details

After receiving a request letter, WSDOT staff review the details and, if approved, provides the requestor with an invoice for the costs and a letter for the requestor to sign that serves as a formal agreement between the department and the requestor. After signing the agreement letter and returning it to the department with payment, the requester is provided his/her copy together with notification that the signs have been ordered. WSDOT handles sign fabrication and installation, which normally takes 90 to 120 days to complete once the sign order is placed.

County or city roadways

WSDOT has no jurisdiction on county roads or city streets, and thus, cannot provide signs along those roadway systems. However, some local agencies have implemented similar programs, and WSDOT staff can provide the name and phone number of a contact person for those agencies having similar programs.

Exceptions

There may be locations that are not suitable for a memorial sign either due to other traffic control signs, safety concerns or city/county ordinances that supersede WSDOT policy for state roads running through local jurisdictions. Every effort will be made to find a suitable location, but there may be cases where it is not feasible.