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What are the rules for funeral processions?

When a loved one passes away, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. Whether you're closely involved with the service or paying your respect as a guest, attending a funeral can be a deeply emotional experience. As the service concludes and emotions are high, you're tasked with the responsibility of safely driving from the service to the burial site. This can be particularly stressful.

Traveling to the burial site, how will everyone know where to go?

Once the service has ended, you will then travel from the funeral home, church or other place of worship to the burial site where the deceased will be laid to rest. When traveling to the burial site, there will be a lead vehicle (usually a hearse) which everyone will follow behind.

The lead vehicle in a funeral procession must be appropriately marked with a flashing purple or amber light or use alternating flashing headlamps. Promptly following the lead vehicle will be immediate family members, relatives and close friends. This is what's known as a funeral procession.

Missouri, along with most other states, has its own legal requirements for following in a funeral procession and for other drivers who must yield to one.

Missouri laws for vehicles involved in a funeral procession

If you're following in funeral procession, always make sure to:

  • Ride as closely behind the preceding vehicle as is safe and practical under the given conditions.
  • Turn on your head and tail lamps, flash emergency lights and utilize flags or special lights (when provided).
  • Follow the lead vehicle after they have lawfully entered into an intersection. You are permitted to follow the procession through a red lighted intersection as long as the lead vehicle entered lawfully. Please practice extreme caution when doing so.
  • Be mindful and attentive to pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers sharing the road.
  • Yield and make way for all approaching emergency vehicles.

Missouri laws for vehicles that encounter a funeral procession

When you're driving and happen upon a funeral procession, traffic laws are as follows:

  • All other drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to any vehicles involved with the procession.
  • Funeral processions have priority even after a light has signaled red; all vehicles not involved must wait for the procession to finish crossing before entering the intersection.
  • It is illegal to join a funeral procession in an attempt to gain the right-of-way.
  • Do not drive between or disrupt vehicles participating in a funeral procession, unless instructed to do so by law enforcement or other emergency vehicles.
  • Attempting to pass a vehicle taking part in a funeral procession is unlawful, unless a passing lane has been specifically provided.

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Peddicord & Townsend LLC
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