Funeral Procession Protocols Can Be Confusing: Do You Know the Rules?

By: Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services
Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Funeral processions come with many rules and restrictions.

For those who are not familiar with the process, they can seem puzzling and complicated. Whether you are driving in a funeral procession or you encounter one, it’s often difficult to know the right thing to do. Is passing permitted? Should you stop at red lights or proceed?

Read on for some important fundamentals of funeral procession etiquette.

If You Encounter a Funeral Procession

Although motor vehicle laws regarding funeral processions vary by state, exhibiting good manners is always the smart choice. If you come upon a hearse leading a funeral procession while you are on the road, be considerate and polite. Here are five key things to keep in mind:

  • 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 and the procession is still in the intersection, you must wait until it has passed before proceeding.
  • Be respectful. Never honk your horn, yell, rev your engine, or show any other signs of aggression toward the processional.
  • Pull over and allow the procession to go by. If you’re on a secondary road and it is 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 in or tag along. The processional is a poignant ceremonial event for those who have lost a loved one. It is extremely rude to interrupt or join a funeral procession for which you are not a participant.
  • Watch for the last vehicle in the procession. This car will be marked with two funeral flags and will have its flashing hazard lights on to indicate to other drivers where the procession ends.

If You are Driving In a Funeral Procession

When the funeral service is over, the officiant, the casket, and the family members leave first. The casket is placed in the hearse, which then leads the procession. Immediate family members follow the hearse and remaining mourners then follow the family. Here are five important rules to follow if you are 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 legally passes through an intersection, the rest of the funeral procession can follow without stopping. If you are in a processional, don’t stop for traffic lights or stop signs unless an emergency vehicle is crossing.
  • Keep your place in line. Remain as close to the car in front of you as is safely possible. 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.
  • Be respectful. Do not 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 you encounter one while driving, common courtesy should always prevail. Sometimes they can be very 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.

Accompanying the departed to their final resting place is a wonderful act of love and deserves the utmost respect. If you have questions about funeral processions or require assistance planning a service, please reach out to our caring professionals.

About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. With two convenient locations serving North and West Philadelphia, it is always our pleasure to be of service. Please visit our website for more information.

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