It’s interesting to note that, regardless of the vehicle code in a particular state, funeral escorts in some cities or counties frequently clash with local police. Resentment may be deep enough that police have even arrested funeral escorts for impersonating a peace officer (in Texas, for example). On the other hand, some communities utilize trained community aides, instead of police officers, for funeral escort duty. This frees up officers to do regular police work.
Regardless of any local tensions, specific laws and rules apply for funeral processions. In California, for example:
Treat Funeral Processions with Respect
By the way, woe to the non-funeral motorist in another, parallel lane, who doesn’t stop at a red light or Stop sign, before proceeding through it at the same time as the procession! If your vehicle isn’t displaying that company’s funeral sticker, it might be a good idea to just pull over and park where it’s allowed, until the funeral procession has passed on by. But watch your rear and side view mirrors for relays of speeding motorcycle escorts coming up behind you, before you make a move. Then, change lanes or turn safely into a side street away from the procession itself.
Drivers in the funeral procession should exercise great caution to avoid colliding with any other motor vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians or roaming animals, and should not exceed the speed limit for a particular highway. Be prepared to listen to a lot of shrill whistle blowing from the escorts, as well as voice commands.
If you can’t attend the burial at the cemetery after the funeral service, you may be trapped in the funeral procession anyway. Escorts can sometimes make it difficult to impossible for any vehicle to leave the mortuary or church parking lot before the hearse leaves first. If that’s the case, everyone is channeled into one long line of cars, and you can’t get out of it, even when you’re on the highway. So, plan ahead for more time than expected when attending a funeral. You might also want to park on the street, so you won’t have to negotiate with a funeral escort inside the parking lot.
© 2006 Shirley Ann Parker