This question comes from the great state of Texas. Roy had an interesting question about freeway etiquette during a funeral procession.
I have a question. It has to do with funeral processions. I know that you should yield whenever you encounter one on a surface road or street, or at a crossing intersection. But what is the the proper behavior when you encounter one on a 4 lane divided highway such as an interstate.
Two incidents happened to me recently and I’m not sure I did the right thing. The first one, I was exiting the interstate on a collector-director type ramp where two traffic lanes, one coming from the left and one coming from the right, merged into one lane just before dumping out onto a major commercial strip highway. I was coming from the left and a line of very slow traffic was merging in from the right. I merged into that line of slow traffic *before* I realized it was a . As soon as I realized that, I turned off at the very next intersection and waited for it to pass on by. Should I have done anything different? If so, what?
The second one happened when I was driving out on the open interstate. Suddenly *both* lanes slowed to about 35 mph. (It was a 70 mph zone.) I was stuck there in a line with other cars and trucks, fuming and wondering what the rolling roadblock was all about, when I discovered that there was a funeral procession in the right hand lane. There was one car in the left lane up there about even with the hearse that would not pass the procession and he was holding everyone else back. At first, I thought that car might have been from the funeral procession on a 4 lane divided highway, but I’m not so sure now. What say you, Motor Cop. Pass or no pass? What are the rules.. But it had no special markings or lights and when the procession finally exited the highway, that car sped up and kept going. Now, I thought it was okay to pass a
Either way, and with all due respect for the deceased, it sure was a pain to have to follow that funeral all the way to their destination exit. (Indeed, by the time the procession finally exited, I felt like I was now part of the family and maybe should have followed it off the interstate and on to the cemetery.)
I gotta say, Roy, no one has ever asked me anything remotely close to this. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules about funeral processions. Although, if there are, I’m sure some of your fellow readers will be quick to enlighten both of us.
That being said, though, I think I can rely on common sense. In your first example, I think you did exactly what you should have done. Having realized you had inadvertently joined the procession, you excused yourself out of it. No harm done, in my opinion. In your second example, I have to fall back on my personal experience in both being a part of and leading processions.
I have been in some processions that have been through rush hour traffic and major interchanges. Processions kind of have a life of their own (pun not intended). What I mean to say is that if we’re in the #1 lane and we need to get to the #4 lane, odds are it won’t be a smooth transition. Motors come in handy because we’re more mobile and can help clear lanes if need be. To the best of my knowledge, though, there’s no law requiring driver’s to not pass or yield.
In my experience, most funerals involving police or fire are well publicized and people know what they’re looking at. A lot of folks will simply pull over, stop, and watch. Some will wave and say, “Thank You.” It’s very moving.
If you’re talking about non-LEO or fire related funerals, I’m relatively sure there’s even less that the vehicle code has to say. Now, I obviously can’t speak for TX law, but I feel relatively confident saying common sense and common courtesy should do you right. Perhaps Texas Ghostrider has more knowledge than I.