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Published on April 15, 2021

Many of us have either attended a funeral or have witnessed a procession taking place in the community. The processions are usually characterized by grief and somberness, which alerts the community that one of their own has passed away. Understanding how to conduct yourself, whether you’re part of the funeral procession or you happen to encounter one while driving is important. Adhering to the funeral procession etiquette and guidelines shows that you respect the bereaved family. 

The Purpose of a Funeral Procession

It doesn't matter whether the procession takes place in a large city, a small town, or is televised in honor of a renowned figure---the intent is to invoke unity and support in the community. 

Occasionally, the memorial site and the burial site are usually located in different places. As such, it is necessary to put in place an organized funeral procession that allows all those honoring the death of their loved one to travel safely between the two locations. Doing this will mostly benefit out-of-town attendees who are unfamiliar with their loved one's final resting place. 

What Funeral Procession Laws Should You Be Concerned With?

Currently, there aren't any national laws governing funeral processions. Each state has its own set of rules on funeral processions. For instance, some states require that cars in a funeral procession run on a red light the moment the lead car passes an intersection. Many people pull over for a funeral procession out of courtesy, nonetheless, several states have established rules that require that people pull over for funeral processions. Drivers who fail to follow this regulation risk being ticketed by police officers.  

You should be conversant with the laws governing funeral processions to avoid being on the wrong side of the law. Local funeral homes can be an invaluable resource from where you can learn funeral procession norms for different religions and cultures. 

However, for starters, you can take heed of the guidelines below to understand how to conduct yourself, whether you come across a funeral procession or you are part of one:

Steps to Consider When Being Involved in a Funeral Procession

  • Be prompt: Arrive at the funeral service at the stipulated time and seek guidance from the funeral home staff on where to park your car. 
  • Be sure to inquire whether you can drive through stop signs and red lights
  • Place the flags provided to you in the designated places. Remember they help identify the car that is part of the procession. 
  • Make sure you turn on your headlights when starting the procession, no matter the time of the day. This is because headlights alert others that you are part of the procession. 
  • Ensure that you keep a close but safe distance from the car in front of you to bar other cars from merging into the procession.

So What Should You Do When You Encounter a Funeral Procession?

While the legal guidelines that govern funeral processions vary from state to state, the following guidelines will help you conduct yourself courteously when you come across a funeral procession:

  • Give way to funeral processions passing through an intersection, whether you have the right of the way or not. 
  • Always endeavor to pull to the side of the road for funeral processions, just like you would for an ambulance or any other emergency vehicle. 
  • Desist from attempting to cut off cars or joining the procession. 
  • Be Mindful. Never attempt to overtake a funeral car. 
  • Avoid honking your horn at cars participating in a funeral procession.

It is courteous to show respect for funeral processions no matter your geographical location. Keep in mind that rules governing funeral processions vary from place to place. It is therefore essential to consult your local funeral service provider about the laws that govern funeral processions. Doing this will enable you to understand the right way to honor your loved ones as they lay to rest. Burial ceremonies signify a send-off from the world of the living to the world of the dead. As such, the ceremony should be carried out as smoothly as possible.

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