Friday, July 18, 2008

White crosses along Montana's highways

I had lived in Montana for almost 7 years. In all that time, I had seen many white crosses erected along roads. I assumed that the crosses marked fatal accidents, but like many others, I too wondered about who put them there. I was wrongly even told that it was a Native American tradition to mark fatal accidents with these crosses.

On my last trip to Billings, MT, while driving on the Bear-tooth highway, I finally found out the truth behind these crosses:

  • The crosses do represent highway fatalities
  • Each cross represents one fatality
  • They are a program of the American Legion of Montana and has been in existence from 1953, at which point it became an approved program of the Department of Transportation of Montana.
  • The markers can be erected only along Montana highways, as a Federal court ruled that they were illegal along InterState highways (bet you didn't know that)

Read more about the program at "White Cross Information"

I am not sure if such a program exists in other states. I have not seen these in Colorado. I think that they are a very good way to remind road users of slowing down and driving more carefully. More states should definitely adopt such programs.

Here are some pictures from "The Adventure Rider"

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And from Tim Traveler's Blog


On a side note, Montana has always done well with road side messages. They currently have a series of signs created by high-school students that attempt to dissuade teens from trying it even once. ( The program is called "Paint the State"

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