Do You Know the Protocol for Funeral Processions?
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 and polite:
- Yield the right of way. Just as you would defer to an emergency vehicle, you should do the same for a funeral procession. Even if your light turns green, if the procession is still in the intersection, you must wait until it has passed before proceeding.
- Pull over and allow the procession to go by. If you’re on a secondary road and it’s safe to do so, consider moving to the shoulder and letting the procession pass. This isn’t required by law, but it is the courteous thing to do.
- Never cut into or tag onto the end of a procession. The processional is a ceremonial event reserved for those who have lost a loved one. It’s considered extremely rude to interrupt or join a funeral procession of which you are not a participant.
- Be respectful. Never honk your horn, yell, rev your engine, or show any other signs of aggression towards a funeral procession.
- Watch for the last driver in the procession. This vehicle will be marked with two funeral flags, and is required to have its flashing hazard lights on to indicate to other drivers where the procession ends.
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.
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 one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.