Why do funeral processions travel so slow, and is it rude to overtake a hearse?

Many people have found themselves in an uncomfortable situation where their vehicle is trapped behind a hearse and a convoy of funeral goers.

At moments like these people aren’t sure what to do, is it rude or disrespectful to overtake them?

A study in 2016 found that 91 per cent of Brits aren’t sure about what they’re supposed to do if they encountered a funeral procession.

This then raises the question of why funeral corteges travel so slowly anyway.

Hearses usually travel at around 20mph, a speed that has potential to create long queues. While drivers are often wary of appearing disrespectful to overtake a procession, they also don’t usually want to feel like they’re intruding in the group by driving directly behind it for a length of the journey.

Hearses are usually incredibly slow

A hearse will typically lead the funeral procession which is usually followed by a chauffeur-driven limousine carrying immediate family and close friends. Other guests may also travel behind the funeral procession.

Firstly, why do funeral corteges drive so slow?

According to Matthew Funeral Home and Cremation Services Inc, the slow speed is in place for two reasons. Firstly, it emulates the slow, somber march of traditional funeral processions. Secondly, it prevents other drivers on the road from separating the group.

The procession drives closely together in order to prevent other vehicles from intercepting the procession.

So, if you find yourself meeting a hearse on the road, what should you do?

Whatever your decision, it’s incredibly important to ensure that you are respectful of the procession whilst sticking to The Highway Code.

91% of people are unsure of what to do when faced with a hearse ahead of them
91% of people are unsure of what to do when faced with a hearse ahead of them

Unhelpfully, there are no specific rules in the UK regarding funeral processions but there are things you can do.

Moving to a different lane is deemed the easiest way to respectfully let the group pass. Pulling over and waiting for the procession to pass by is an enormous sign of respect but only if it is safe to do so.

Processions don’t legally have any special right of way when it comes to roundabouts or traffic lights, only being given minor exceptions if they come under police control.

According to Dignity Funerals, drivers should follow these tips:

  • Give way to the hearse and funeral cars
  • Don’t cut into a funeral procession
  • Avoid listening to loud music
  • Don’t beep your horn
  • Only overtake a procession on a dual carriageway

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