The Protocol for Funeral Processions: Ten Important Things You Need to Know

By: VGFS
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Good funeral etiquette also involves following the protocols for the procession.

Even if you’ve never participated in one, chances are you have seen a funeral procession and may have wondered about the rules and guidelines.

Here are ten essential things everyone should know about funeral procession etiquette for participants and other motorists.

Participating in a Funeral Procession

When arriving at the funeral home or church for the service, funeral attendants will be waiting to provide parking instructions. Vehicles that will be driven in the funeral procession are usually positioned in bumper-to-bumper rows. Anyone who is not driving in the procession will be directed to park in another area. Drivers should keep these things in mind:

  • Processions cars are parked in the order in which they arrive. That means that if you are a family member or close friend and will be driving your own vehicle in the procession, you should plan to get there early. By arriving 30 to 45 minutes before the funeral begins, you will ensure that your vehicle is positioned at the front of the line. 
  • Funeral procession vehicles are identified for other drivers. The funeral attendant will typically place a magnetic flag that reads “Funeral” on all cars in the procession and instruct participants to turn on their headlights for the drive to the cemetery. This signifies the members of the funeral procession to other motorists.
  • Always drive slowly. Funeral processions drive at a pace that’s below the normal speed limit. You’ll likely drive 25 – 30 mph on side roads and no more than 50 mph on the highway.
  • Stay close to the car in front of you. Do not allow room for a vehicle that’s not in the procession to merge into the line.
  • Follow the procession at all times. In most states, traffic ordinances give right-of-way to funeral processions and other motorists must yield until it has passed. Therefore, even if it means you must go through a red light at an intersection, continue in the procession. Never leave your place in line except in the case of an emergency.
  • The last car in the procession bears special identification. The final vehicle displays two funeral flags and has its hazard lights flashing to indicate to other motorists that the procession has ended and that traffic may resume.

Encountering a Funeral Procession

Although the laws can vary by state, it is always best to use good manners and practice courteous behavior if you come across a funeral procession. Keep these pointers in mind if you encounter a procession in your travels:

  • Always yield the right-of-way. 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 cortege to continue through the intersection until all cars in the procession have passed. If possible, it is best pull over to the shoulder and allow the procession to pass before proceeding.
  • Do not pass. Drivers traveling in the same direction as a funeral procession should never pass or attempt to pass unless the highway has two or more lanes going in that direction. When on a highway, never pass a funeral procession from the right side unless it is traveling in the far left lane.
  • Watch for the last vehicle in the procession. This car is typically denoted with two or more funeral flags and flashing hazard lights. Once it passes by, the normal flow of traffic may resume.
  • Be respectful at all times. Never yell, honk your horn, rev your engine, or display any other type of impolite behavior at a funeral procession.

The funeral procession is a revered tradition that can bring great comfort to those saying their final goodbyes. If you have questions about funeral processions or funeral arrangements, please reach out to our caring professionals anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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