Have you ever been in a funeral procession and run through a red light? Better be careful where you do so or the police may surprise you with a ticket. This article highlights this issue and provides a State-by-State analysis of these laws.
A funeral procession is a convoy of friends, relatives, and family members following the hearse from the funeral home to the burial site. Through the ages it has varied from people walking and carrying the deceased, to the modern entourage of limousines and automobiles. Most states have enacted statutes governing the procedures and traffic laws governing a procession as well as the legal requirements for yielding to one. Quite often, all vehicles in the funeral will be marked with a purple funeral flag issued by the funeral home. All drivers will be told to turn their headlights on.
The hearse will be the first vehicle in the procession followed by the spouse, children, immediate family members, and friends. In most states the lead vehicle must observe all traffic lights, but when the lead car has proceeded through an intersection, the rest of the funeral train may proceed without stopping. The procession is often accompanied by law enforcement vehicles to ensure the safety of the procession when running a red light. Cars traveling in the opposite direction of a procession may yield out of respect, if they want, but in most states, they don’t have to yield, slow or stop at all. Clearly, this is a recipe for disaster.