Pulling Over For Funeral Processions Is Dangerous - And Response

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Is it safe or dangerous to pull to the side of a busy roadway or come to a stop in traffic lanes out of respect, or drive at a slow speed behind a procession?

Of course, it is courteous, but is it safe on crowded Corridor J and other roads to follow a tradition that was established before traffic congestion?

Police escorts are a thing of the past. Other large cities have abandoned this practice.

Is it time for Chattanooga to follow their lead? Your opinion is appreciated.

Johnny Cunningham

* * *

Nowhere in the state code is there any mention of stopping for a funeral
procession. I agree with Mr. Cunningham, it's dangerous to stop or slow.

But it does bring up the subject of passing a funeral procession on a
two-lane highway....you can't. Four lane highway? It appears to me
you are free to pass.

Phil Snider
psjunkmail@comcast.net

* * *

Yes, pulling over for a funeral procession is very dangerous and unnecessary. It is a tradition from the time of horses and buggies and should not be continued in this modern day. Not pulling over has nothing to do with being disrespectful of the family of the deceased - it's just good common sense.

At intersections it is especially a problem. Cars going across the intersection often do not have any way of knowing that there is a funeral procession. So many vehicles now have daytime running lights that the old headlights-on-funeral-procession rule no longer applies. Procession cars who try to go through a red light cause a major problem for drivers who didn't see the lead funeral car and try to go on the green light.

Plus, there is no law saying you must pull over for a funeral procession.

I cannot forget the stupidity shown by one woman (with her small child in her vehicle!) when I was driving on Highway 2A about five years ago. A funeral procession was going the opposite direction on this divided highway. I kept trying to drive and she was literally swerving all over the road in front of me trying to block me and get me to stop.

Susan Clark
LaFayette, Ga.

* * *

In some states it's the law to pull to the right and stop until a funeral procession passes. That's the convention, pull to the right and stop.

Perhaps a more appropriate question would be "If someone in Atlanta jumps off a bridge, should we jump off of one too?"

Just because others don't see fit to show their respect for the family and loved ones of those who have departed, does that mean we shouldn't either?

Royce E. Burrage, Jr.
Royce@OfficiallyChapped.org

* * *

Well, here is one more example of what this world is coming to. Once again something is brought up about tradition and respect. It is slowly becoming "against the law" to have either.

I have always pulled over (tradition) out of respect and will continue to do so. Are you all in that big of a hurry? I'll be sure to check the obituaries often to see when you all pass away so I can speed by during your procession.

Elaine Cornwell
Chattanooga

In this day and time, pulling over for a funeral procession is both dangerous and foolish. This tradition/law was in place from a bygone era. Those who try to say not doing so is a sign of disrespect are simply trying to guilt us into stopping traffic because that's what they were taught to do.

I have been in several funeral processions and on a divided highway such as Highway 2-A in Fort Oglethorpe, it is both pointless and dangerous. I can, however, fully see pulling over and allowing funeral processions to pass if they are on the same side of the road as you are.

Of the five or six police officers that I have asked about this, the most common answer that I received was to use good judgment. I was told by the officers that pulling to the side of the road to allow a funeral procession to pass when the procession is on the same side of the road as you are is fine, but to stop traffic just because a funeral procession is in sight on the other side of the highway or road is wrong.

I was also told about a person who was fined for causing a traffic pileup for doing that exact same thing.

Bill Craig
East Ridge

* * *

People have to use common sense if or when pulling over for funerals.

Here's my suggestion:

1. If I'm in an area where it appears safe to pull over I pull over far enough off the road so as not to hinder other traffic that may not want to or can't stop. If an area doesn't appear safe enough to pull over, I don't.

2. After the hearse and family car(s) have passed, I continue on my way. No one should suddenly stop on a busy road, possibly causing a pileup or worse.

3. It's a personal choice to stop or keep driving, and doesn't indicate either respect or disrespect for the deceased or family.

Brenda Manghane-Washington

* * *

I agree, we as Southern people are taught to be respectful to the deceased family in this manner.

I think to solve this dilemma, funeral processions should be eliminated altogether.

In other words, everyone meet at the cemetery at a specified time to proceed with the funeral.

Jim Rosenbloom
augydog1@yahoo.com

* * *

Are we forgetting that this is about respecting the passing of another person? It occurs to me that in a world that is increasingly busy, people view any slowdown in their daily commute as an inconvenience.

Is it dangerous to slow down or stop for a funeral procession? Not if everyone stops.

Obviously, there is no danger in showing respect for the deceased if we all take the time to do so. I think those who are trying to convince us otherwise are internally justifying their behavior so they don't have to feel guilty when they hurry by a mourning family without a second thought.

Slow down and show a little respect. It's the right thing to do.

Gary Viall
Signal Mountain

* * *

I agree with Gary Viall. Everyone seems to be in a hurry and doesn't want to be inconvenienced. It is time to do something - not because it is or is not a law - but because it is the right thing to do.

When I moved to the South, the first thing I noticed were that people pulled off the road and stopped for funerals. I can honestly tell you that I was awed.

At first I thought it was a law here in the South, but then quickly learned it was a courtesy that Southerners observed showing respect for someone who has passed into history. This is one of the traditions that set the South apart. Don't give it up just because you want to be like "other" cities or you are in too much of a rush. Don't mask it by saying it is unsafe.

Linda Goodman

* * *

Again, it all boils down to common sense and safety. In this case we CAN have it both ways.

Those on the same road can stop if they wish. Those on the opposite side of a divided highway don't need to stop.

Some people show respect in different ways. Some may be in an emergency of their own. If pulling over at the first sight of any funeral procession makes you feel that you are showing respect, then you have every right to pull over and show that respect. If others show respect in another silent less public form, then they have the right to do that also.

I think the best solution is to allow each other to handle this situation in the way we feel is best for them. Is it possible to allow those who want to pull over out of respect to do so and still allow those who don't to continue on their way without being unsafe?

Bill Craig

* * *

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to traffic codes. City Code of Chattanooga section 24-17-e states that oncoming traffic shall proceed at a normal speed when approaching a funeral procession. Simply stated it is not legal to stop for an oncoming funeral procession.

I don't think many city police officers will issue citations either way, but in a legal context, it is wrong to stop for funerals.

Harry Presley
Chattanooga
pharry752@aol.com

* * *

I am no lawyer but regarding pulling over for funeral processions let me add this.

Under the Tennesee State Code Annotated, Chapter 8 Operation of Vehicles – Rules of the Road, Sec 55-8-183, the lead car has to stop, but once it stops it may proceed. The lead car has to be identified.

Also in the Chattanooga City Code, Section 24-17 Traffic Operations During Funeral Processions, the same rules apply.

Whether or not this is a good idea is obviously up for debate. I tend to agree with the situational ethics. If there is convenient place to stop and pull over I do so. If I am near the top of a blind hill, no shoulder, etc., I keep going. No need to add one more fatality. I have been in funeral processions and seeing other cars stopping is a small comfort.

Eric Burnett
eebemt@comcast.net

* * *


A few years ago, I stopped pulling over to the side of the road for funeral processions.

The last two that I pulled over for were the reason why.

The first involved traffic pulled over to the side of the road on Highway 153 headed north just past the cloverleaf.

The procession was so long, traffic backed up almost all the way to Northgate, and some drivers dangerously zoomed by or swerved around stopping vehicles unaware or uncaring about what was going on.

The second involved only a few vehicles in the procession but numerous vehicles pulling over to the side of the road.

Odd, I thought while sitting there. Then it suddenly occurred to me that I had no idea who was in that hearse being carried to the cemetery.

For all I knew, it could have been a man who beat his wife and children, an adulterer, a drunk, a drug pusher, a gang leader with all his gang buddies riding behind him, or even a murderer .

Can you imagine - and this could have happened - pulling off to the side of the road while paying your respects to those in a funeral procession and later learning that it was the funeral of Ted Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer?

Most of the time, you just don't know.

So, what I do when a funeral procession comes by today is ask the good Lord to be with the family of the deceased and bring peace that surpasses all understanding.

Jim Ashley
Jashley41@comcast.net

* * *

I agree with Gary Viall and Linda Goodman. Pulling over for a funeral procession shows respect for a life that has passed away and for the family who is grieving that passing. It is a comfort to see others acknowledge your sorrow.

It is true we may not know if the deceased was a murderer or an abusive husband or father. Also, we don't know if she was a loving mother, or young child. That doesn't matter.

We are isolating ourselves these days by hurrying on our way, and refusing to take time for others. We pull over for emergency vehicles, and we can do it for funeral processions. It is not dangerous if everyone does it.

Sylvia Lyons
Chattanooga


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