A Challenge to New Mexico Accident Memorials

November 11, 2008

Most any driver on New Mexico roads has at some point seen the small crosses along the shoulders that designate scenes of serious or fatal New Mexico car accidents. These memorials, or descansos, have been reported to have various effects on people ranging from offensive religious symbols to comforting objects helping people grieve.

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Personally, these symbols do not strike me as religious as much as they do somber reminders of serious car accidents that changed people's lives. I oftentimes can't help but slowdown, become a little more cautious, and try to drive safer. It would not matter to me if the symbol was a cross, a Jewish star, a circle or a rectangle. Rather, the effectiveness is the consistent symbol that reminds people of importance of driving safely.

These symbols are being challenged in a Utah court which has caught the attention of New Mexico's Attorney General. The lawsuit was brought by an atheist group concerned with the state's funding of the crosses to designate the deaths of state troopers. New Mexico has filed a brief in the pending appeal to challenge the case.

I can understand the frustration with the state funding religious symbols, however, I sincerely hope that these highway memorials do not disappear as a result of the case. Hopefully the sides will reconcile their differences and allow the symbols of New Mexico accidents to remain standing.

I truly believe, as do many New Mexico car accident lawyers, that cautious driving would greatly reduce New Mexico wrongful death and accident claims. If these reminders scattered throughout New Mexico's highways help in that process, it would be a shame to lose them.