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Pulling over for funeral procession

Graphic of Thoroughly Modern Manners

Dear Mrs. Abramovitz,
Should I pull over for a funeral procession? – LB

Part of the funeral often includes solemnly carrying the loved one from memorial site to burial site and certain customs are invoked.

“Always” is a word that is usually used as an illustrative purpose and “usually” understood to be hyperbole and not literal. In this case, I’ll use it twice, always, always pull over for a funeral procession. Not only is it polite, in some states it is the law. It is a sign of respect for the deceased and also shows respect for the survivors who are laying their loved one or friend to rest. While it may be confusing, it all boils down to good manners. If you see a line of cars following a hearse, simply pull over. It makes it safer for everyone on the road and it’s the way we show our respect.

Many drivers are unaware of the laws and customs surrounding funeral processions. The biggest area of confusion appears to be at intersections. Once the lead vehicle proceeds through the intersection, all the cars behind may follow without stopping, even if the light turns red in the midst of the procession.

In Colorado there are no state laws governing funeral processions, but the Denver Revised Municipal Code provides that vehicles and escorts in a funeral procession have the right of way and may proceed regardless of traffic signals. These vehicles must be properly identified by lighted headlamps and drivers must follow the vehicle in front of them as close as is practical for safe operation.

If the procession has to take the highway, it may very well do so at a lower rate of speed, and by nature the highway is high speed and some drivers are unable to stop. Remain respectful, don’t speed along ahead of the procession and definitely don’t cut off any members of the procession to take your exit. Take the next one.

Do we yield to a funeral procession? From a legal standpoint it depends on the laws of the state, from a traditional standpoint the answer is yes, absolutely yes. Pulling over is the simple and respectful thing to do.



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