|A Funeral Procession-is essentially a
parade of mourners following the deceased
and the conveyor of the deceased from the
memorial site to the burial site. Through the
ages it has varied from people walking and
carrying the deceased, to the modern vehicle
processions with hearses and limousines.
Most states have some type of legislation governing the rules and procedures for
having a procession and well as yielding to one.
Usually all the vehicles will be marked with a purple funeral flag from the funeral
All vehicles will be instructed to turn their headlights on.
The hearse will be the first vehicle in the procession followed by the spouse or
significant other. Children and the immediate family follow. All friends and others are
to fall in behind. The procession is often accompanied by a police escort.
In most states the lead vehicle of a funeral
procession must observe all traffic lights, but
when the lead car goes through an intersection
legally (on green, for example), the rest of the
funeral procession can follow without
Cars traveling in the opposite direction of a
procession may yield out of respect, if they
want, but most state lawmakers decreed that
they don’t have to yield, slow or stop at all.
For the motorists wanting to yield to the procession, they can reduce speed. But if
there’s room and they want to stop, they must move completely off the road so that
other cars can pass by without leaving
their lane of traffic.
|Funeral Procession Laws
Example Arizona Procession Laws
28-776. Funeral procession right-of-way; funeral escort vehicles; certification; fee;
A. Pedestrians and the operators of all vehicles, except emergency vehicles, shall
yield the right-of-way to each vehicle that is a part of a funeral procession being led
by a funeral escort vehicle. The driver of the funeral escort vehicle may direct the
drivers of other vehicles in the procession to proceed through any intersection or to
make turns or other movements, and the other vehicles may continue to follow and
make the turns or other movements as are made by or as directed by the driver of
the funeral escort vehicle notwithstanding any traffic control device prescribed by
statute or local ordinance, except that a driver of a vehicle in the funeral procession
shall not exceed the posted speed limit and shall exercise reasonable and prudent care
to avoid colliding with any other vehicle or pedestrian on the roadway. Each vehicle
in a funeral procession shall have its headlights lighted.
B. A driver of a funeral escort vehicle who is certified pursuant to subsection D of
this section may direct and control the drivers of vehicles in a funeral procession and
any other vehicle in or approaching any intersection to stop, proceed or make the
turns or other movements as required without regard to any traffic control device
prescribed by statute or local ordinance. Funeral escort vehicles may exceed the
speed limit by fifteen miles per hour when overtaking processions to direct traffic at
the next intersection. A funeral escort vehicle shall be equipped with at least one
lighted lamp exhibiting a red or red and blue light or lens visible under normal
atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet to the front of the
C. The sheriff in each county shall register funeral escort vehicles and issue an
identification sticker or plate that is affixed to the vehicle in order to identify the
vehicle as a funeral escort vehicle. When acting as a funeral escort, the driver of a
properly equipped and registered funeral escort vehicle has all of the rights and
privileges of a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle proceeding to an emergency
call as provided under section 28-624.
D. The sheriff in each county may certify any person who holds at least a valid class
D driver license issued by this state as a certified driver of a funeral escort vehicle if
1. Completes a training program in motor vehicle safety and traffic control safety as
prescribed by the sheriff.
2. Pays the fee that is prescribed by the sheriff for the program and that does not
exceed the cost of the program.
E. For the purposes of this section, "funeral procession" means two or more vehicles
accompanying the body of a deceased person, including a funeral escort vehicle
registered by the sheriff.
The modern hearse is referring to the
vehicle that conveys a casket from the
funeral home to a cemetery, derived from
the Latin "hirspex", meaning “harrow” or
“rake”. A harrow was a horse drawn piece
of equipment that raked up the top layer
of the soil (unlike a plow, which drew deep
furrows). There is also another use of the
word "harrow". In Christian tradition,
Jesus “harrows” hell, descending to the
underworld in order to “rake up” the righteous souls sent there before his death
Some of the earliest conveyances for corpses and coffins would have been drawn
by horses, but the word (which likely came to U.S. via the French "herce") came
to refer to a frame like structure built above and around the coffin on which,
mourners could hang epitaphs. This frame resulted in the enclosed style we see in
modern hearses. The “herce” eventually became two pieces: Its framework was
represented in the vehicle, and its tributary aspect was represented by a candelabra
on the bier.
Eventually, the vehicle became a horse drawn carriage, and the candelabra became
a drape of flowers. As autos became common, so did motorized hearses. One of
the first was used in 1909 U.S. funeral procession. Hearses have evolved so
funerals proceed with what many consider greater solemnity and ease, with
features such as curtained windows, motorized lifts for the casket platform, and
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See the History of Hearses in Photos
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