All images copyright © 1998, Don Baccus
In 1977, my car was destroyed by a truck that lost its brakes and ran through a red light. I was waiting at the light, the truck was broadsided by a motorist passing through the intersection on a green light, and my car was transformed into a piece of junk.
I was unhurt, but the truck driver was killed.
No memorial marks that spot about three miles from my house, but memories of that day are always close at hand on those rare occasions that I drive through that intersection. It was an accident where it can truly be said that none of the three drivers were at fault, where one man died due to a mechanical, not human, failure. The sudden violence of the impact, my shock at seeing the driver crushed under his truck, and the realization that he'd been alive, healthy, and whole moments before seem as fresh now as it was that day.
A couple of years ago, I began to photograph roadside memorials on occasion. Many are quite complex, including photographs, favorite possessions, poems and prayers. Others are nothing more than a simple cross and a name. At some locations, multiple crosses make it sadly clear that more than one person was killed. Red ribbons are a poignant reminder of the dangers of drunken driving at some. Each marks a life snuffed out violently, often in youth.
So, what's the message behind these photos? How does "drive