Funeral Processions and Car Accidents: Who Has The Right of Way?

A Tennessee statute provides that a funeral procession has the right-of-way when the lead vehicle properly identifies the funeral procession by using a flashing amber light or is identified as a police escort or other “properly identified” escort.  A funeral escort may also use a siren and flags to identify the funeral procession. The lead car must comply with stop signs and traffic-control signals such as red lights but the remainder of the funeral procession can proceed without stopping or obeying the traffic signal if each vehicle has its headlights on.  

As with anything else, there are exceptions to the right-of-way rule.  A funeral procession must yield the right-of-way to an authorized emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance) with its siren on.  A funeral procession must also yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by any law enforcement officer.

So as to minimize the effect on traffic flow, the funeral procession must maintain minimum speeds.  On a highway, the procession should go no slower than 45.  On other roadways, the procession should not go any slower than 5 mph below the posted speed limit.  A motorist who is following a funeral procession on a two-lane highway must not pass the funeral procession.  Likewise, a motorist confronted with a proper funeral procession must yield the right of way and must not drive or attempt to drive in between the vehicles.

I find that folks in the Tennessee are generally very respectful of funeral processions. But accidents do happen and every motorist should know their responsibilities when proceeding in or confronted with a funeral procession.  If you would like to know your rights with respect to any type of car accident, give us a call at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787 to talk to one of our award-winning lawyers.  The consultation is free and without obligation and we handle all injury cases on a contingency basis.