No one needs to be told to have some respect for the dead. A funeral procession is a procession of vehicles or people traveling to or from a funeral. A lot of people don’t think there’s anything important about pulling over and giving them some space.

People know to clear the way for ambulances, squad cars, and fire trucks with blaring sirens. These are emergency vehicles and should never be compromised. What people don’t know is that cutting through a funeral procession is actually an offense in several states in the U.S [1].

Before being made a law, this act of respect started off as a convention. It upsets the essence of oneness and unity for the family and friends proceeding to the funeral when the procession is disrupted. It’s no longer a procession when there are many random cars stationed in between the family’s vehicles.

When people culminated this into a tradition, it was only expected that not everyone would subscribe to the new convention. Some people are always in too much of a hurry to care about anyone, not even the dead.

States gradually began to put laws in place to safeguard the formation of funeral processions on the road. Getting mixed up with other vehicles on the road would only cause unnecessary delays and confusion.

The only exception is in cases of emergency, as always. Funeral processions will have to pull over for emergency responders. Aside from this, everyone else is mandated by the law and by good manners clear the road for them. In many states, such as Georgia, the lead vehicle of the procession must be marked with a flag and the headlights, taillights and emergency lights must be on.

Intersections, red lights, and stop signs

These are the major problem areas for funeral processions in many states. A document summarized by Attorneys Matthiesen, Wickert, and Lehrer, explains the funeral procession laws in all the 50 states [2]. Many states, such as Arkansas and Connecticut have no laws to protect the interest of a funeral procession. People don’t worry about getting tickets for cutting through processions in these states, and they only do it out of courtesy and respect.

In many states such as Maryland, the entire procession can run a red light if the first vehicle passed through it when it was green. This means they must obey all other traffic rules and signs, stopping at intersections and stop signs.

In Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, and North Dakota, a funeral procession has the right-of-way at every intersection, and they can run red lights and stop signs as well, following the first vehicle if it obeyed the lights.

Basically, every state that permits the vehicles to disobey traffic lights stipulates that the first vehicles must obey the lights. The succeeding vehicles are the exceptions.

Nevada is the only state in the U.S. where the first vehicle in the procession is permitted to run a red light. In Louisiana, a police escort must accompany the procession if they will pass through intersections without stopping.

It’s all about your conscience

No matter how much of haste you’re in, you’re not going to be any later if you clear out for one minute while a funeral procession makes it through in one train [3]. Yield the right-of-way for the procession at an intersection. This makes it much safer to be on the road at that point in time.

The family and friends will be grieving. They will be in a lot of pain that day. It wouldn’t cost anything to show some respect for the dead and pass your condolences in a silent way. Yielding to the procession will be more than enough sympathy for them coming from strangers and well-meaning citizens.

References:

  1. Do You Have to Pull Over for a Funeral Procession? Melanie McManus. How Stuff Works. July 10, 2017.
  2. FUNERAL PROCESSION TRAFFIC LAWS IN ALL 50 STATES. Matthiesen, Wickert, and Lehrer. MWL-Law.
  3. Why You Should Always, Always Pull Over For A Funeral Procession. Melissa Locker. Better Homes and Gardens. March 14, 2019.
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