Do drivers have to stop for a funeral procession?

Monday March 20, 2017

Connecticut law differs from other states. What is the right thing to do?

In a recent case in the D.C. area, a driver barged through a funeral procession, rear-ended one of the mourners, and led police on a high-speed chase.

That woman turned out to be driving drunk, but it raises the question of what a (sober) driver should do when encountering a funeral procession. Do motorists have an obligation to yield to the line of mourners’ vehicles? What is the law, and what is considered proper etiquette?

The etiquette – and traffic laws – of funeral processions

Some people are just rude and impatient. Some honestly don’t know what the law is, or are accustomed to different rules elsewhere. A few do’s and don’ts in Connecticut:

— Be respectful. Don’t honk, flash your headlights or tailgate.

— Proceed with caution when the light turns green. In Connecticut, cars in a funeral procession must obey all traffic laws, including stopping for red lights. (In many states, the whole procession continues through even after the light changes.) Make sure the funeral cars are stopping before you cross or turn.

— Never cut into the middle of a procession. Though not technically illegal, it’s disrespectful. It’s also confusing for some mourners trying to follow other cars to the cemetery.

— You can respectfully pass a procession on a four-lane roadway. (But don’t gun your engine as you swing out to pass.)

— If you are driving in the opposite direction, you need not stop or pull over. In fact, it could be dangerous to do so. (In some parts of the country the custom is to pull off to the right until the procession passes.)

— The rear car will be marked with flags and have its hazard lights flashing (or the procession may be trailed by a police escort). Once the last car passes, traffic can resume.

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