The state Department of Transportation said Wednesday it will install roadside signs bearing the name of the dead and the words "Drive Safely, In Memory." The 15-inch oval sign will stand for a year, and then be given to the person who paid the fee.
DOT spokesman David Spear said some of the unofficial displays are elaborate and distracting.
When Harrison High School athlete Garrett Reed, of Cobb County, died in a car wreck in 2009, friends adorned the crash site with flowers, photos posted on trees, candles and three crosses. Someone left a ball cap with an inscription on the bill reading: "Garrett I'll miss you. And I know many others will too. May God give comfort and perseverance to all affected by this tragedy."
How and when the state will remove existing memorials remains unclear. They are already prohibited under state law, and many are removed as workers cut the grass and pick up litter along the roadways.
Donna Evans of Jonesboro, who placed a memorial wreath at the spot where her daughter died in a car crash in 2000, said the memorial played an important part in her grieving.
"Every week I would go and place fresh flowers there and sit, cry, scream, vent whatever I needed to do at the time," said Evans, 53. "She was 21 years old and about to get married."
A white state-issued sign, she said, "would not be personal enough."
Workers often leave the memorials for a time in deference to family and friends. Now, workers may more quickly dismantle them, or scale down the larger memorials, Spear said.
"We're going to be sensitive to the losses people have experienced," Spear said. "But we're going to be more diligent about removing them."