After seeing some confused motorists who aren’t clear on what to do when a line of cars headed to the cemetery passes by, it seemed time to revisit the rules of the road when it comes to funeral processions.
These rules aren’t just recommended etiquette – they’re state law. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession have the right-of-way.
Under NH RSA 265:157, motorists:
- Can’t drive between the vehicles in a funeral procession while in motion if the motorist isn’t in the procession. Emergency vehicles are the exception.
- Can’t join the funeral procession in order to avoid being stopped in traffic.
- Can’t pass a funeral procession on a 2-lane highway or roadway.
- Can’t enter an intersection when the light is green if the procession is still passing through – even if they have a red light.
If you’re in a hurry, you might be frustrated at being slowed down by a funeral procession, but be sure yield and don’t try to cut in or honk your horn. This is a solemn event for friends and family, so it’s important to show respect.
For their part, under NH RSA 265:156 funeral escort vehicles must
- Comply with stop signs and traffic signals. However, when the lead vehicle goes through an intersection with a green light or after stopping at a stop sign, all the cars in in the funeral procession can continue through, even when the light turns red.
- Be equipped with a purple flashing or emergency light.
Motorists in the funeral procession must:
- Follow the vehicle ahead of them in the funeral procession as closely as possible as long as it’s “practical and safe.”
- Have funeral flags or windshield signage, and headlights, taillights, and hazards on.
Despite the fact the procession has the right of way, it’s important that vehicles in the procession exercise caution because not everyone is aware of the law. Be on the lookout for cars trying to dart through an opening or who hit the gas when the light turns green.
If you go to a funeral and are in the funeral procession, the funeral attendants from the funeral home will direct you to your place in line. Once underway, expect to travel fairly slowly – 30 mph on roads in town and 55 mph or slower on the highway. When the service is over, return to your vehicle and be ready to follow in the procession.
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Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium has served the public since 1906. We are the largest provider of funeral services in the state, and we operate three full-service funeral homes, two crematories, two non-denominational chapels, and a cremation society. To request a free brochure and planning guide, click here.