Funeral processions & traffic laws

Written by m.l. browne
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Funeral processions & traffic laws
Funeral processions and traffic (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Bart Howard Everts)

Funeral processions to the cemetery are a standard part of the customary final rites when a person dies. Mourners drive their vehicles in single file behind the hearse that carries the deceased to the cemetery. Knowing the local traffic regulations governing funeral processions prevents accidents and infractions.

Vehicle Identification

Funeral processions & traffic laws
Funeral home flags (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of hobvias sudoneighm)

Normal identifiers for vehicles participating in a funeral procession are small flags or banners attached to the vehicle's radio antenna and activated headlights. The lead vehicle may also have flashing lights attached to the front or top.

Escort Vehicles

Funeral processions & traffic laws
Motorcycle escorts (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Paul Keleher)

When a funeral procession is lengthy (for example, with dozens of vehicles), one or more police escorts may be necessary to ensure safety. The escorts ride beside the funeral cortege with their emergency lights flashing. All procession drivers must follow the escorts' instructions.

Right of Way

Funeral processions & traffic laws
Yielding and stopping (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of David Goehring)

Several states (for example, Missouri, Illinois, Delaware and California) and municipalities mandate that traffic must yield the right of way in intersections and roundabouts to vehicles in the procession.

Liability

Funeral processions & traffic laws
If accidents happen (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Chris Meller)

Even though you are driving a vehicle in a funeral procession, you are not relieved of the responsibility for maintaining road safety. If you have an accident while in a funeral procession, your insurance company will determine your liability.

Local Traffic Regulations

There is no single, uniform statutory regulation for funeral processions. Local funeral directors are aware of the regulations and will be able to provide guidance to procession drivers.

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