I know it is considered rude to cut into a funeral procession, but isn’t it also rude for members of a funeral procession to refuse to allow a car to pass through? I live in a busy suburban area near a cluster of three large cemeteries of different faiths. We see funeral processions fairly often in the area and at least one of the cemeteries often accommodates very large funerals. As I was passing through the area recently, we were stopped at a traffic signal by the motorcycle attendant to allow a procession to turn right onto the road I was traveling on, leading to the entrance of the cemetery several blocks further on the right. There were at least 100 cars in the group and regular traffic was stopped at the intersection for six or seven green light cycles. Quite a number of cars backed up on my side of the intersection waiting for the procession to pass through.
Once the last car in the procession had turned right and cleared the intersection, the motorcycle opened it up and the accumulated traffic was able to cross. This is a well-used boulevard passing through residential neighborhoods on both sides, two lanes in each direction with a planted median in the middle. The cemetery was on the right side of the road a couple of blocks further up with a driveway leading up to the gate. The procession became backed up entering the cemetery, and as a result a large number of cars were waiting in the right lane of the road in order to turn right into the cemetery The back-up stretched for several blocks and was blocking the residential avenues on the right. At each avenue, the pavement is painted “Keep Clear” so that stopped vehicles on the larger road don’t block those that must enter and exit the smaller residential avenues. That’s a pretty standard road marking in this area as our rush hour traffic often gets gridlocked. This is exactly what happened here. One car in the general traffic wanted to turn right from the road into the neighborhood, but there was no opening between the cars in the funeral procession. He signaled that he wanted to turn right but the funeral procession cars crept up to close any possible gaps. As the procession moved forward slowly as cars ahead were entering the cemetery, each car moved up as close as possible to keep this car from being able to turn right onto the avenue. Because he was stopped in the left lane trying unsuccessfully to turn right, all of the traffic that had been stopped earlier by the procession was now stopped up behind him.
It might seem to make sense for him to just go around the block and try again, but because of the three large cemeteries on the street, going around this particular block is a very long drive. Since the procession was backed up and moving up just a car at a time, how would it have hurt to allow someone to cross though into their neighborhood? The motor vehicle code in my state is “Do not block or hinder a funeral procession. Vehicles taking part in a funeral procession have the right-of-way, and if you interfere, obstruct, or interrupt the funeral procession, you are subject to a citation.” But does that mean procession members have to be obstinate about it?
PS. I remember reading a submission in the archives about a funeral procession member who actually ran a vehicle off the road into a ditch to make a point. Really? 1117-14
While there are local codes defining the manner in which funeral processions are to be treated, I have yet to see laws which allow a funeral procession of cars to negate obedience to all other commonsense rules of the road. Just because people are participants in a funeral procession does not mean they are entitled to flout the law by blocking an intersection when it is clearly designated not to do so. The only time I’veseen this done is when a police officer stops all traffic and ushers the procession through an intersection. However, the only remedy I can see available to you is to get a petition from the residents of the neighborhoods affected and appeal to your local elected officials to enforce the law or change to protect the rights of those living within the vicinity of the local cemeteries.