Funeral processions can be confusing. Whether you’re participating in the procession or you encounter one, it’s often difficult to know the right thing to do. Should you stop for red lights? Are you allowed to pass? In this article, we’ll share some important fundamentals of funeral procession etiquette.
If You Encounter a Funeral Procession
Motor vehicle laws regarding funeral processions vary by state, but good manners don’t. If you come upon a hearse leading a funeral procession while you’re on the road, be considerate, polite and remember that funeral processions have the right-of-way. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts on how to handle a funeral procession that passes through an area where you are driving:
- Do be respectful.
- Do yield – once the lead car has entered traffic, such as going through an intersection – the entire procession will follow without interruption. Even if their traffic light is red and yours is green, you must stop and allow the procession to continue through the intersection until all cars in the procession have passed.
- Do look for the last vehicle in the procession – it typically has 2 or more flags and hazard lights flashing. Once it passes by, you may resume the normal flow of traffic.
- Don’t cut into or cut off a procession.
- Don’t honk at a car in a funeral procession.
- Don’t pass a funeral procession on the right side on a highway, unless the procession is in the far left lane.
If You are In a Funeral Procession
When the funeral is over, the officiant, the casket, and the family leave first. The casket is placed in the hearse, which then leads the procession. Family members follow the hearse, and the remaining mourners follow the family. Follow these rules if you’re a participant:
- Turn on your headlights. This lets other drivers know that you are part of the procession. Most funeral homes will also provide a magnetic sign or flag for your vehicle.
- Funeral processions have the right of way. In most states, the lead vehicle of a funeral procession must observe all traffic lights and signs. Once it goes through an intersection legally, the rest of the funeral procession can follow without stopping. If you’re in a processional, don’t stop at traffic lights or stop signs unless there’s an emergency.
- Keep your place in line. Remain as close as is safely possible to the car in front of you. This will prevent other vehicles on the road from interrupting the procession.
- Drive slowly. Most funeral processions go below the posted speed limit and no more than 55 mph on the highway.
- Maintain reverence and respect. Don’t blast the radio, use your cell phone, or honk the horn while you’re participating in this solemn event.
Whether you’re in a funeral procession or encounter one while you’re driving, always be courteous. Sometimes they can be quite long, but keep in mind that a loved one has passed away. Be patient and refer back to these rules of proper funeral procession etiquette.
The last thing we can do for someone we love is accompany them to their final resting place. If you have questions about funeral processions or need assistance planning a service, please reach out to our caring professionals.