June 20, 2021

Funeral Procession Etiquette

When you see a funeral procession going down the road, what’s your first reaction? Do you slow down and pull over? What do you do if you’re walking down the street? Most importantly, what do you do if you’re a part of the funeral procession? 

If you’ve ever thought to yourself about what proper funeral procession etiquette is, we’re here to answer all your burning questions. 

Let’s start. 

Etiquette for Cars

If you are driving in a vehicle and you come upon a funeral procession, what do you need to do?

Pull over to a safe part of the road and wait until all the vehicles pass.

This is the most asked question when it comes to procession etiquette. No matter where you’re at, in the city or the country, pulling over is a simple and respectful gesture.

Depending on the state, there may be laws concerning whether the lead vehicle in a funeral procession should have lights flashing. Typically, every car in a funeral procession will have their lights flashing to distinguish themselves from other traffic. When you no longer see flashing lights, this may indicate the end of the procession. 

Etiquette for Pedestrians 

If you’re walking down the street and see a procession, what do you do? 

Much like in a vehicle, a courteous gesture would be to stop walking and remove your hat if you’re wearing one. Bowing your head to symbolize praying is also a thoughtful response – as opposed to staring. This is good, traditional advice for showing your respect during any occasion. 

Procession Laws 

Laws surrounding funeral processions vary from state to state. 

For example, in Nebraska, there are no laws governing funeral processions; however, an Omaha city ordinance prohibits vehicles from driving through a funeral procession while they are in motion and when the vehicles are conspicuously designated by headlamps or flags. Vehicles in a funeral procession have the right-of-way in intersections, including at red lights. The driver in a procession still has the duty to exercise ordinary care, and if they are detached from the procession, the right-of-way is lost. Herman v. Lee, 316 N.W.2d 56 (Neb. 1982) 

In Florida, however, vehicles and pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to funeral processions.

Should you pull over for a funeral procession? The laws in your particular state will dictate that law, but from a traditional standpoint, yes, you should pull over for any funeral procession. It is a thoughtful way to show the family respect for their loss. If you were in their shoes, how would you feel if on the way to the cemetery, other drivers were swerving in and out of your procession and being hazardous to your safety? 

Procession Order

Most funeral processions will follow a specific order. There will be a lead vehicle (a funeral home vehicle, police car, or escort by motorcycle), followed by a hearse. A hearse is a vehicle that carries the body of the deceased. Following the hearse will be a vehicle that holds the immediate family members. Everyone else will follow suit. 

  • Lead car
  • Hearse
  • Immediate family 
  • Other family 
  • Everyone else attending the funeral

In smaller cities, or in places where the cemetery and funeral home are on the same grounds, the funeral director may lead the hearse on foot to the gravesite. 


If you have any questions about how a funeral procession works, feel free to give us a call today! Our staff is here to make the “celebration of life” process as easy as possible on you and your family. 



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