Get a roadside memorial sign

Learn how to have a memorial sign placed in honor of a loved one lost in a traffic incident, and raise awareness of the related traffic safety issue.

Initially focused on impaired driving as part of a grassroots awareness effort by family members, the Roadside Memorial Sign program has since expanded to address several other types of fatal incidents such as distracted driving, reckless driving, and collisions involving motorcycles, bicyclists, or pedestrians.

Private memorials are not allowed along state highways due to the safety risks involved to those who wish to place, maintain, or pay respects to a memorial site. This program provides a way to safely memorialize a loved one and raise awareness of others to an important traffic safety issue. Requestors must agree not to visit or hold memorial gatherings at the sign site for the safety of themselves and the traveling public.

Signs are installed in memory of an individual who lost their life in a collision on a state highway. The sign includes an important safety message and a plaque with the deceased individual's name or the name of the sponsoring family. Standard safety messages include:

  • Please Don't Drink and Drive
  • Please Don't Drug and Drive
  • Please Don't Speed
  • Please Drive Sober
  • Please Drive Safely
  • Please Ride Safely
  • Please Watch for Bicyclists
  • Please Watch for Motorcycles
  • Please Watch for Pedestrians
  • Reckless Driving Costs Lives
  • Seat Belts Save Lives
  • Stay Alert Drive Safe
Image of a typical WSDOT memorial sign.  Sign is white text on a blue background and reads "please don't drink and drive".
Image of a typical WSDOT memorial sign plaque.  Sign is white text on a blue background and reads "in memory of individual's name".

NOTE: As of January 1, 2024, memorial signs and plaques will use white text on a blue background.  Existing signs will remain black text on a white background until sign replacement is necessary.

Requesting a memorial sign

Memorial signs may only be requested by a family member of the deceased, or a friend with written permission from a family member.

Costs for signs and installation are $1000 per location.  The requestor is required to pay for the sign, including manufacture and installation by a WSDOT crew.  If the sign requires replacement, the requestor is required to pay for the replacement sign.

To initiate a request, please contact the program at:

WSDOT - Roadside Memorial Sign Program
PO Box 37344
Olympia, WA 98504-7344

Or use the contact information on the right side of this page.

The request letter should include the following items:

  • The name of the deceased and their relationship to the requestor. If the requestor is not an immediate family member, they must include written permission from a family member authorizing the request.
  • The date, state highway, and approximate location of the collision.  State route milepost is preferred, but nearest cross street(s) or GPS coordinates can also be used.
  • The cause of the collision, including details about the use of alcohol or drugs, distraction, etc. A police report can be helpful in providing these details.
  • What safety message and plaque are being requested for the sign.
  • A primary point of contact in case of any follow up questions or additional information is needed.

We will review the details provided and, if approved, respond with an agreement letter to be signed by the requestor. This letter is the formal agreement between the requestor and WSDOT for all future interactions regarding the memorial sign.

Sign installation

When the signed letter and payment have been received, the requestor will be provided a copy of the agreement letter, a receipt, and notification that the sign (or signs) order has been placed. Sign fabrication and installation typically takes from 90 to 120 days from the date the order is placed.

Signs will be placed as close to the collision site as possible, in the direction of travel that the collision occurred.  Locations may be adjusted to address conflicts with existing signing or specific roadway configurations.  For freeways, one sign will be installed along the on-ramp closest to, and in the same direction of travel as, the collision scene - signing cannot be installed on freeway mainlines.

Some locations may not be suitable for a memorial sign.  Generally this is due to safety concerns for our sign crews or the traveling public, but there may also be city or county ordinances that superseded WSDOT policy in a specific location. Every effort will be made to find a suitable location, but there may be cases where it is simply not possible.

County or city roadways

Our jurisdiction does not include county roads or city streets, and we cannot provide signs along those roadway systems. However, some local agencies have adopted similar memorial sign programs, and we ask that you contact the appropriate agency for the road or street of interest for additional information.

Slow down on ice and snow.

It's easier to skid or lose control traveling at higher speeds. Give yourself more time to stop.

Carry chains, practice installing them.

Winter conditions could mean chains are required on your route. Practice putting them on your vehicle ahead of time.

Pack your winter car kit.

Carry extra supplies like warm clothing, ice scraper and brush, jumper cables and other emergency items.