Whether you’re participating in the funeral procession or encounter one on the roads, there are common rules of etiquette that should always be followed. While honest mistakes do happen, there are ways to ensure the procession isn’t broken on the way to the cemetery or burial ground.
Participants in the funeral procession should maintain slower speeds than normal, and should remain as close as is safely possible to the car in front of them during the procession. This will prevent other vehicles on the road from interrupting the procession. Headlights should also remain on for every car in the procession for its entirety.
It’s also important to remain in line with the procession from beginning to end. Unless it is unsafe, drivers are permitted to go through a red light at intersections in order to keep in line with the procession. All other drivers are required to yield for the procession line.
The last driver in the procession line will be marked with two funeral flags, and is required to have their hazard lights on and flashing to indicate to other drivers where the procession ends. In cases where a procession is quite long, there may be flags placed on multiple vehicles throughout the procession.
In order to be placed at the beginning of the procession, close family and friends not riding in the first limousine or other designated vehicle should arrive to the funeral home or church well before the procession starts (about 45 minutes early).
It’s important to recognize the signs indicating that a funeral procession is on the road, and to drive accordingly. Funeral processions often begin with a lead car, which is usually a black sedan, and which will be marked by its white funeral flags and flashing hazard lights. If you see these signs, it’s important to be courteous and let the procession pass.
After the lead car, you will see the hearse, followed by any family cars/limousines, and the remaining procession participants. The first family car is usually marked with a funeral flag, which is typically a bright orange color, and reads, “Funeral”. The last driver should be clearly marked with funeral flags and flashing hazard lights, just as with the lead car.
Some processions will have flags marking every car in the procession; others will only have flags for the front cars and the final car. It is incumbent upon other drivers on the road to be cognizant of what funeral processions look like.
Regardless of whether you’re in a hurry, or just plain impatient, it’s highly disrespectful to neglect to yield to the cars in a funeral procession. They should be clearly marked and behaving uniformly and, therefore, easy to spot in traffic. Use common sense, and tune into your considerate side. Don’t cut people off. Don’t honk. And, don’t try to pass the procession. You may have lost a few minutes by letting the procession pass, but try to remember that the people in that procession have lost something far greater – a loved one – and they’d probably give a whole lot to trade places with you.