Funeral Procession Etiquette
In many families, having a funeral procession is traditional. The funeral procession symbolizes the final journey for the departed; and helps bring closure for the grieving. It also assists in keeping the mourners together, so people don’t get lost on the way to the burial place. If you are in the procession, it is important to know what is expected of you. If you are sharing the road with one, or as a pedestrian, it is good to know the proper way to show your respect to the mourners.
In the Procession
When participating in a funeral procession, there are certain things you should know as a driver. After the casket is carried by the pallbearers to the hearse, those going to the burial will get into their cars and line them up. Hazard lights should be on. Your funeral home should provide a sticker or sign for the car, in the event that you go through a red light.
During the procession, you should be driving below the speed limit; and fairly close to the car in front of you, but still a safe distance away. The slow speed serves two purposes. The first, is to emulate the slow, somber, march of the funeral processions of old. The second is to prevent other drivers from separating from the group. You drive close to the other cars in order to prevent people from cutting you off and separating the group.
Except in the event of emergency vehicles, funeral processions have the right of way in New York. If the hearse stops at a red light, the procession will halt. If the light changes, cars are permitted to continue and stay with the group; assuming it is safe to do so.
Just as you would yield right-of-way to an emergency vehicle, you should try to do the same for a procession. Moving to a different lane if possible is one of the easiest ways to respectfully let the group pass. Pulling over and waiting for the procession to pass is a great sign of respect; but only do this if you can safely do it. If you are driving on an intersecting street to the procession, let them pass before you enter the intersection. Do not cut through or into a procession.
For pedestrians, this section is less about the rules of the road, and more about respect and etiquette. It shows a lot of sympathy and respect for the family to stop walking, and bow your head or take off your hat as the procession passes. If you are playing music outside or using loud lawn equipment, turning it off until the group passes is greatly appreciated.
For almost 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.