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Ask a Trooper: Funeral processions

By Staff | Mar 21, 2014

Q: I live by the funeral home and often see funeral processions leaving my neighborhood. There are many times I see other cars keep going by a procession without stopping. My biggest complaint is the cars not in the procession will continue on with their business after the hearse goes by, even when there are other cars coming with their headlights on. Is there a law that requires people to stop, or is that just ‘old fashion courtesy’?

A: This is an interesting topic considering the high pace life many live today. Can we bear to sit for 2 minutes on the side of the road as a hearse and funeral procession goes by? Many don’t consider how they would feel if it was their loved one that was being laid to rest.

Is it just common courtesy, or do motorists have to yield to funeral processions? How long do you have to sit on the side of the road if so? Iowa Code section 321.324A sheds some light on this subject.

‘Upon immediate approach of a funeral procession, the driver of every other vehicle, except an authorized emergency vehicle shall yield the right-of-way.’

This portion requires all motorists in the immediate area of a funeral procession to stop, regardless of which direction they are headed. But what is a funeral procession? Does that mean just the hearse or does it include the procession of cars behind it too? The answer lies in an earlier paragraph of the same code section.

A funeral procession is defined as

‘a procession of motor vehicles accompanying the body of a deceased person during daylight hours which is being escorted by a vehicle continually displaying its emergency signal lamps flashing simultaneously and using lighted headlamps and identifying flags, and keeping all other motor vehicles with lighted headlamps in close formation.’

This would indicate that motorists must yield to the entire procession, not just the hearseso long as all vehicles are in close proximity and have their headlamps lighted.

Motorists in violation of this code section are required to appear in court.

Common courtesy is a welcome change in our fast paced society today. The next time you encounter a funeral procession; show that courtesy by yielding for the entire funeral procession.