Motorists must yield to funeral processions

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A change in Missouri law during the last legislative session now requires motorists throughout the state to do what many motorists in smaller communities have always done: show respect for a funeral procession.

Approved in August, the change states that an organized funeral procession shall have the right of way at all intersections even if it is going through an intersection when the light is red. Other traffic is required to yield to the funeral, and the only time a procession would stop would be to yield for an emergency vehicle.

Cape Girardeau ordinances reflect this ruling, stating also that all vehicles in an organized procession shall follow the preceding vehicle as closely as they safely can, that all cars in the procession light their headlights and have their emergency flashers working.

Funeral homes are also required to have flashing lights on their lead car. Cliff Ford of Ford and Sons Funeral Home of Cape Girardeau said that his lead car and the funeral coach also has flags attached to it to designate that a funeral is following.

"Most people are pretty aware and are pretty good about pulling over," Ford said.

In some cases, funerals are given a police escort whenever officers have time, said Betty Kuss of Lorberg Memorial Funeral Chapel of Cape Girardeau. Families appreciate that gesture, she said.

Families also appreciate the respect shown when motorists pull over to let the procession pass without impediment.

"It's a nice gesture," Kuss said. "We had a service today and every car we met on Broadway stopped."

According to the law, it is illegal to drive between the vehicles in a funeral procession, to join a funeral procession for the purpose of participating in the right of way, or attempt to pass any vehicle in a funeral procession.

It is also illegal, when a procession is going through a red light, or is not stopping for a stop sign, to enter the intersection and interrupt the procession.

Violators may be subject to a fine of up to $100.

335-6611, extension 160

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