Is it Mandatory in Texas to Stop for Passing Funeral Processions?
You see a funeral procession coming down the street in Tyler, Texas -- what are you supposed to do? The answer to that question really surprised me.
I pass a funeral home at least twice a day driving on Old Jacksonville Hwy. in Tyler, and on occasion I encounter a funeral procession leaving the funeral home on the way to a grave side service. I have always been taught to pull over to the right hand side of the road and stop and wait for the procession to fully pass by -- not only out of respect for the deceased, but that it's the law. It wasn't until I turned to a quick search online to discover the real answer.
Pulling over for a funeral, is it the law or a common courtesy?
When in a funeral procession all involved vehicles usually drive with their headlights and hazard flashers on so that other drivers know they are a part of the procession. As it turns out, Texas does not have a law stating specifically that you must pull over and wait for a funeral to pass by. According to Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer Attorneys At Law in Austin,
There are no state laws governing funeral processions, however, Texas courts recognize the tradition of vehicles stopping to allow a funeral procession to pass through an intersection. A driver that collides with a vehicle in a funeral possession may be liable if the procession was going through an intersection was noticeable.
Often times funeral processions are escorted by city police, sheriff's officers, constables or other peace officers, and the public has assumed over years that it was the law to pull over and stop. But that's not the case. However, if a marked escort vehicle of officer indicates for you to yield, then you need to obey the officer. This could be at a major intersection or a side street where the funeral procession is passing through the intersection, then you'll need to stop.
Now that we know we are not required by law to pull over, it is still nice to do out of courtesy and respect for that family that is in the front of the procession. If you choose to pull over and wait, do so safely and remember that others may not make the same decision. You'll want to move off the road as much as possible to allow both the funeral procession to pass by along with any other traffic that may not want to stop.
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