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NFDA Model Funeral Procession Statute

Section 101-01. Definitions

  1. “Funeral director” and “funeral home” shall have the same meanings set forth in Sections _____ - ______ of the State Code*.

  2. “Funeral procession” means two or more vehicles accompanying the body or the cremated remains of a deceased person, in the daylight hours, including a funeral lead vehicle or a funeral escort vehicle.

  3. “Funeral lead vehicle” means any motor vehicle, including a funeral hearse, properly equipped pursuant to subsection 101-02(a), leading and facilitating the movement of a funeral procession.

  4. “Funeral escort” means a person or entity that provides escort services for funeral processions, including, but not limited to law enforcement personnel and agencies.

  5. “Funeral escort vehicle” means any motor vehicle properly equipped pursuant to Section 101-02 and which escorts a funeral procession.

Section 101-02. Equipment

  1. All non-law enforcement funeral escort vehicles and funeral lead vehicles shall be equipped with at least one lighted rotating or oscillating lamp exhibiting an [amber]** light or lens visible under normal atmospheric conditions for a distance of at least 500 feet from the front of the vehicle. A funeral escort vehicle or a funeral lead vehicle may illuminate a rotating or oscillating [amber]** light only when the vehicle is in use in a funeral procession.

  2. Any law enforcement funeral escort vehicle may be equipped with a red, blue, or amber flashing light which meet the criteria established in subsection (a) of this Section.

________________________
* Those sections from the state funeral licensing statute that define “funeral director” and “funeral home” would be inserted here.

**States may substitute red, blue or purple lights for amber lights.

Section 101-03. Driving in Funeral Procession

  1. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession must exercise due care when participating in a funeral procession.

  2. A vehicle in a funeral procession shall follow the preceding vehicle in the funeral procession as closely as is practicable and safe. Any ordinance, law, or regulation requiring that motor vehicles be operated to allow sufficient space between them to enable another vehicle to enter and occupy that space without danger shall not be applicable to vehicles in a funeral procession.

  3. The operator of a motor vehicle in a funeral procession may not drive the vehicle at a speed greater than:
    1. 55 miles per hour on a highway where the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour or more; or

    2. 5 miles per hour below the posted speed limit on other streets or road.

  4. A vehicle being operated in any funeral procession must have its headlights and tail lights illuminated.

  5. The turn signals must be flashing simultaneously as warning lights on a vehicle that is the first vehicle in a funeral procession and which the operator has reason to believe is the last vehicle in the funeral procession.

Section 101-04. Funeral Procession Right-of-Way

  1. Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Section, pedestrians and operators of all vehicles shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which is part of a funeral procession being led by a funeral escort vehicle or a funeral lead vehicle.

  2. Whenever the funeral escort vehicle or funeral lead vehicle in a funeral procession lawfully enters an intersection, either by reason of a traffic control device or at the direction of law enforcement personnel, the remaining vehicles in the funeral procession may continue to follow the funeral lead vehicle through the intersection despite any traffic control devices or right-of-way provisions of State or local ordinances, provided the operator of each vehicle exercises reasonable care toward any other vehicle or pedestrian on the roadway.

  3. Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Section, an operator of a funeral escort vehicle may direct the operators of other vehicles in a funeral procession to proceed through an intersection or to make turns or other movements despite any traffic control device. The operator of a funeral escort vehicle may direct and control the operators of vehicles not in a funeral procession, including those in or approaching an intersection, to stop, proceed, or make turns or other movements without regard to a traffic control device. Funeral escort vehicles may exceed the speed limit by 15 miles per hour when overtaking the funeral procession to direct traffic at the next intersection.

  4. Funeral processions shall have the right-of-way at intersections regardless of traffic control devices, subject to the following conditions and exceptions:
    1. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right-of-way to an approaching emergency vehicle giving an audible or visible signal;

    2. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by law enforcement personnel; and

    3. Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession must exercise due care when participating in a funeral procession.

Section 101-05. Vehicles not in Funeral Procession

The operator of a vehicle that is not part of a funeral procession may not:

  1. Drive between the vehicles forming a funeral procession while they are in motion except when authorized to do so by law enforcement personnel or when driving an authorized emergency vehicle emitting an audible or visible signal.

  2. Join a funeral procession to secure the right-of-way as granted by Section 101-04.

  3. Pass a funeral procession on a multiple lane highway on the funeral procession’s right side unless the funeral procession is in the farthest left lane.

  4. Enter an intersection, even if the operator is facing a green traffic control signal, when a funeral procession is proceeding through a red traffic control signal at the intersection as permitted under Section 101-04, unless the operator can so without crossing the path of the funeral procession. If the red signal changes to green while the funeral procession is within the intersection, the operator of the vehicle facing a green signal may proceed subject to the right-of-way of a vehicle participating in a funeral procession.

Section 101-06. Liability

  1. Liability for any death, personal injury or property damage suffered by any person in a funeral procession shall not be imposed upon the funeral director, funeral home, funeral escort or their employees or agents if the funeral procession was operating in compliance with Sections 101-01 through 101-04 or would have been operating in such compliance but for the operator or operators of one or more vehicles in the funeral procession not exercising due care as required by subsections 101-03(a) and 101-04(d)(iii).

  2. Liability for any death, personal injury or property damage that results from, is caused by, or arises out of any action or inaction of any operator of a vehicle in a funeral procession under the control of a funeral director, funeral home, funeral escort or their employees or agents shall not be imposed upon such funeral director, funeral home, funeral escort or their employees or agents if the funeral procession was operating in compliance with Sections 101-01 through 101-04 or would have been operating in such compliance but for the operator or operators of one or more vehicles in the funeral procession not exercising due care as required by subsections 101.03(a) and 101-04(d)(iii).

  3. This Section 6 shall not apply if the death, personal injury, or property damage allegedly arose from the negligent acts or omissions in the operation of a vehicle by the funeral director, funeral home, funeral escort, or their employees or agents. The operator of a vehicle in a funeral procession shall not be deemed to be an agent of the funeral director, funeral home, or funeral escort unless such operator is an employee of the funeral director, funeral home, or funeral escort and is acting in the course of their employment, or unless the operator was retained as an independent contractor of the funeral director, funeral home, or funeral escort and is performing services thereto.

  4. This Section 6 does not create a new cause of action or substantive legal rights against any funeral director, funeral home, funeral escort, or their employees or agents. This section does not affect any immunities from civil liability or defenses established by another section of the State Code or any immunities from civil liabilities or defenses available at common law to which a funeral director, funeral home, funeral escort, or their employees or agents may be entitled.