The Farmington Police Department has received several requests to provide information on proper procedures for funeral processions – great suggestion! Did you know that according to Farmington’s city ordinance, EVERY vehicle in a funeral procession is required to be marked with a pennant?
(a) No driver of a vehicle shall drive between the vehicles comprising a funeral or other authorized procession while the procession is in motion and when the vehicles in the procession are conspicuously designated as required in this section. This subsection shall not apply at intersections where traffic is controlled by police officers.
(b) Each driver in a funeral or other procession shall drive as near to the righthand edge of the street as practicable and shall follow the vehicle ahead as closely as is practicable and safe.
(c) A funeral composed of a procession of vehicles shall be identified by the display upon the outside of each vehicle of a pennant or other identifying insignia or by such other method as may be determined and designated by the traffic division.
(d) No procession or parade, except those enumerated in section 24-6-31, shall occupy or march or proceed along any street except in accordance with a permit issued by the chief of police pursuant to Chapter 24.
(Code 1969, § 19-24)
FPD encourage all drivers to be respectful of funeral processions. It’s common practice for drivers in both directions to pull over to the right hand edge of the roadway, stop, turn on their headlamps and wait for the procession to pass as a sign of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.
What should I do when I suddenly encounter a funeral procession? We recommend the following action be taken:
- If you are approaching from the rear of the procession and are passing vehicles in the procession and suddenly realize it, slow down until the last vehicle in the procession is in front of you and follow at a respectful distance. Stop for all traffic control devices (i.e. stop signs and red signals).
- If the procession is oncoming, pull safely to the right, turn on your headlamps and wait until the procession passes you. Then safely merge back into traffic and continue on your trip.
- If the procession is coming up from behind you, try to keep in front of it but do not commit traffic violations. Should you encounter a traffic control device, make a safe right turn pull to the side of the roadway and wait to continue your trip until the procession passes you.
- If the procession is escorted by law enforcement or another type of escort vehicle (i.e. funeral home personnel), follow their instructions. Always make sure you are safe in executing any direction they give you. Don’t be the cause of a collision.
- If you are stopped at a signal, trying to make a left turn and a procession approaches, stay put, do not attempt your turn. Wait until it is safe to make a turn; do not assume that just because you have a green turn arrow it is safe. There may be a straggler in the procession who believes they have the right of way. Whether the other driver has the right of way nor not is irrelevant; you will both be inconvenienced or injured if a collision occurs.
- Always be respectful of the procession. Think of how you would feel if the deceased were your loved one.
- Most processions only last a few minutes and travel under the posted speed limit. When our Traffic Unit leads one, we travel 5-10 mph under the speed limit.
I’m driving in a Funeral Procession, what should I do?
- Ask the funeral director if there are markings available for your vehicle to clearly show it is involved in a procession.
- If you are not being escorted by law enforcement who are controlling intersections, be VERY cautious when approaching them. Most other drivers may not realize a funeral procession is taking place and unintentionally pull into your path.
- Do not let gaps form in the procession; follow the vehicle in front of you at a distance as to not encourage another driver to pull in between you.
- DO NOT drive through red signals or stop signs unless directed to do so by escorting personnel. It’s better to arrive late at the Cemetery than not at all due to a collision.
Martin Snowbarger has been a law enforcement officer for 18 years. He’s worked for the Farmington Police Department for 15 years and in Raton, NM for three years. Officer Snowbarger has been with FPD’s Traffic Division since 2003 and has been a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Traffic Collision Reconstructionist for 11 years.