For grieving people participating in a funeral procession, traffic is likely their least concern. However, funeral processions are becoming increasingly dangerous for both participants and their police escorts, as motorists drive dangerously around and through them. Last week in Kissimmee, two police officers were seriously injured after being struck by a driver trying to cut through a funeral procession held for a victim of the shooting at Pulse in Orlando.
The driver was impatient with the wait and attempted to cut through a gap between two cars, breaking the law protecting funeral procession participants. This accident is an important reminder of why motorists need to be more aware of funeral procession laws and know how to safely navigate funeral processions.
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Here are a few safety tips for drivers based on our city’s funeral procession laws:
Funeral Procession Has the Right-of-Way
The funeral procession always has the right-of-way, according to a 2011 Florida statute, so motorists should yield and wait for the procession to pass. This applies even if the funeral procession is passing through a red light, and the motorist is given the green light.
Never Interrupt the Procession
Never attempt to cut through the procession, even if there is a gap between cars. A funeral procession participant will follow the car in front as closely as is deemed safe, but room between cars is never an excuse for cutting through.
Never Pass a Funeral Procession
Do not attempt to drive past a funeral procession on a local road to save time, as this could cause a car accident). A motorist may pass a funeral procession on a highway with more than 2 lanes, but only if they are passing on the left side of traffic.
Never Trail a Funeral Procession
Some motorists may attempt to trail\ a funeral procession to secure their right of way, but this is dangerous. Although not specified by Florida law, experts agree that drivers should always keep distance from the last car in a funeral procession, which will be marked by flags and flashing hazard lights.
Above all else, be respectful. The greatest token of condolence a motorist can afford a grieving family is to allow them to participate in a funeral procession without fear of a car accident.