SOMETHING TO TELL THE PEOPLE OF EDMONTON?



The Funeral Procession – Please Pull Over or Stop

I am a funeral celebrant in Edmonton. As a celebrant, I help families plan an appropriate service/life celebration and am with them as their officiant the day of the service. Part of many services includes a procession to a cemetery at the conclusion of the service. This is where an already difficult day can add more stress to a family. People traveling to the cemetery are asked to have their headlights on high beam and their four way flashers on. They often will have a sticker on their side window that states “funeral”. Some funeral homes have magnetic signs placed on vehicles. The funeral coach (hearse) and often a lead car, will both have purple flashing lights on the roof, warning other drivers it is a funeral procession.

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It surprises me how disrespectful drivers in our city are, of a funeral procession. Rather than wait the 2 or 3 minutes for the procession to pass, people will try edge their vehicles in or try to stop the procession from going through an intersection. I’ve seen city transit buses merge in funeral processions, motorcycles and even pedestrians trying to run their way across a moving procession. Because of others’ impatience, funeral processions are often broken up and sometimes mourners not making it to the cemetery because they were relying on the lead vehicles to get them there. The police no longer offer escorted processions unless it’s a state funeral; that used to be very helpful.

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I ask the public, please be considerate of an already broken hearted family and give them 2 minutes out of your day so they can make it safely and without incident to the cemetery to lay their loved one to rest. Think about your own family and if it were you saying goodbye to a loved one that day. Would you want an ETS bus joining or cutting off your procession?

Thank you.


SOMETHING TO TELL THE PEOPLE OF EDMONTON?

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153 thoughts on “The Funeral Procession – Please Pull Over or Stop

    1. Same with ambulance, fire trucks & police cars. People read the drivers handbook once & toss it aside but don’t absorb the information past their learner’s or drivers test.

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  1. I can remember going to my grandfathers funeral in Moose Jaw years ago. As we passed a school at recess time ALL the children stop playing and stood attention with the hands over their hearts. I was just amazed. My parents taught us wether you are walking or driving you stop for a funeral procession.

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  2. I took driver training (many years ago) And not once was I ever taught about a funeral procession. Is it even in the handbook? On an exam nowadays?? If not it ABSOLUTELY should be. Because I was one that did that once. Passed a whole procession on a highway because I honestly didn’t know better. 20 years later I still feel absolutely HORRIBLE about it. I now have educated my children as they have become drivers that it’s what you do.

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    1. It wasn’t in my handbook when I took drivers training, nor was I taught it at all in my lessons.
      But my parents always taught me the proper etiquette for funeral processions.

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  3. On the flip side. If you are in the funeral procession does not give you the right to drive like a A-hole!!
    You’re speeding and weaving in and out of lanes just because you have your four ways on doesn’t make it ok!

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    1. I was a Funeral Director (I let me license go to be a stay at home mom) and I have never had anyone speeding and weaving in and out of traffic while taking part in a procession. The only time there is fast driving and weaving is if there is a police escort and only the police cars do that in order to assist the cars in the procession to move together better.

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    2. Who the hell weaves in and out of lanes in a funeral procession? Normally everyone is in the same lane trying to stay together. It’s other people who cut them off by cutting IN. If anyone is weaving they are probably trying to get around people who rudely and illegally cut in.

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  4. The same thing happened at my Aunts funeral not long ago! I almost got T boned at least 5-6 times just trying to stay with everyone and they had the nerve to honk at me! I had the funeral sign in my window but that did nothing. Sad how rude drivers can be during that time

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    1. Michelle McCallum The hearse is often long gone if you come upon a procession at the end and if they do not have lights on, the sign or flag some people may not recognize it as a funeral. Remember we live a multicultural country and not all faiths have a procession.

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    1. Ray Dickson the first source was Alberta transport website , the second is globe and mail and they’re referencing OPP and Ontario so I’m guessing there’s slight differences between provincial transportation law, probably explains the discrepancy.

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  5. I have never heard of this first time I saw it was here in Edmonton. I still think it’s strange that they don’t obey traffic laws. You should still stop at a red light. This was never in any driving hand book i saw. I’ve only seen this in Edmonton and I have delt with manny funerals. This is absolutely strange to me. Only rule ever expressed is that the immediate family follows the body. I still think EVERYONE needs to be respectful including those in “precession”.

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  6. I agree with you 100 per cent, people should respect the person and family going to the cemetery, but I don’t think people really know the rules, if I see a procession, I stay back or take a different road

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  7. I was in a funeral procession a few years ago and this happened. There were a couple people who cut through the procession or honked. And we were all clearly marked with signs on top of our vehicles, all had flashing lights and in a straight line, so they can’t even plead ignorance, they were just being selfish and rude.
    I agree though that it should definitely be taught in driver training or in the manual because it really isn’t widely known.

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  8. I totally agree with you. I take the time and do my best to respect funeral processions. My mother passed January 1973. I will always remember the ride from Ashmont to Vilna. Oncoming traffic stopped and a truck driver took his hat off. I’m sure they didn’t know my mom but just showed respect. This made me feel honoured and this was how I was taught to respect processions.

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  9. Just cause someone died doesn’t mean 30 cars get to blow red lights all over town and cut people off and drive up one ways. Rules apply to everyone, dead or not. Unless you live out in the country don’t expect the 1500 cars you pass across a major city to stop what they are doing cause you think you are dealing with something more serious then them. Follow the rules or expect people to give you shit. Get a police lead if your so bent outta shape about getting to a graveyard in 20 mins instead of 25 mins.

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    1. Sean, I am the author of this article. “Just because someone died” DOES mean we have the right to proceed through a red light. It’s the law in Alberta. Never will you see a funeral procession driving the wrong way on a one way; that’s ridiculous. It’s not about getting to the cemetery in a shorter time, we actually travel slower than the posted speed. It’s about keeping the funeral procession together as a unit. I hope when the time comes that you and your family have to lay a loved one to rest that the public will have the utmost respect for you and your family as you make your way to the cemetery.

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    1. Jason, I am the author of this article. I hope when the time comes that you are saying good bye to a loved one, be it your wife, child, parent, grandparent, that people have a little more empathy and compassion for your circumstance than you do for this very important issue. Imagine your child is in a funeral coach and you’re heading to the cemetery and the procession is cut in half because of someone impatient who couldn’t wait 22 seconds for it to pass. Your child continues on without you, enroute to their final resting place. How do you feel?

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  10. People don’t pay attention. The last procession I saw, not all of the cars were marked and those that were had them in the windshield. The last car was lagging behind as if it was an afterthought. Maybe if they were better marked, like a coloured light on the roof, that may help people take notice.

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  11. I have never been able to tell it was a funeral procession until I saw the hearse. Perhaps you should consider waiting a little bit for everyone to get to the cemetery before starting the service as t seems that this is inevitable.

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  12. In aboriginal funerals on reservations you will not only experience drivers not cutting in or through the procession, anyone coming the other way will pull over to the side of the road and wait until the procession has passed before they resume their journey. It is done out of respect.

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  13. Love this post!! There was a huge discussion on here about this. Some people said that if you hit a red light while you are in the procession you must stop. No. So many people thought you have to follow the regular road rules. So many people don’t know the rules of the road for a funeral.

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    1. As long as the funeral procession isn’t staggered (i.e. Spread apart with empty spaces to fit other vehicles) and everyone has their four ways and headlights on, they are allowed to go through red lights. The leader of the funeral procession should also be driving at a pace so as to not lose its followers. At my mom’s funeral we went through a red light that had a camera…. we noticed it and informed the police so no one would get ticketed. I was amazed at all of the people that tried to go through their green light while we passed…. I got honked at and given the finger

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    2. If the lead car gets a red light, he must stop. If the light is green, he goes, and everyone following him goes, even after the light turns red

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  14. When I was growing up. My family always said to NEVER cut in a funeral procession. They even added on that’s it’s severely bad luck. To do this day I would never do it. Out of respect and out of superstition (hey you never know).

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  15. Was attending a funeral for a loved one in a city I didnt know well and that happened to us. We noticed the veterans who attended and started to follow ….we followed them right to the legion. They didnt go to the grave site and we missed the grave site service. All because people literally broke up the procession line.

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  16. I can’t remember what day the funeral was taking place it was last week. I have the upmost respect for people who are heading to the grave and such but last week there about about 30 cars all with 4 ways driving in and out of traffic. no marked cars what so ever! One jacked up truck almost smoked another car; why? Because he had his 4 ways on and driving from one Lane to the next. Yes I called the cops. I had kids in my vehicle and I certainly didn’t want to be included in any funeral or attending my own because of someone who thought he owed the road.

    I do believe when a funeral service is taking place all vehicle should stop. It’s out of respect!

    In this case there was a lot of distraction. No marked cars, no funeral car at the front nothing. Nothing indicating a funeral was taking place.

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    1. The procession was probably broken up and by the sounds of it the rest of the drivers were trying to catch up, I’m not excusing the bad driving just pointing out what most likely happened

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  17. I’m a total Jerk! I got in the way of one a few years back, not realizing what was going on!

    Thank you for this post I will promise to always be more courteous when I do see one and I hope most other people do the same.

    Thank you for the work you do.

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    1. So I did know not to cut it off, but I’m curious what the “rule” is about continuing on beside them for example. Not cutting them off just going past on say a 2/3 lane road.
      Ive always just gone behind them but I always see people pass in the other lane.

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  18. My uncle just had his funeral and the traffic downtown was awful! No one would give the coach or family car any courtesy. There was a peace officer next to us watching the whole thing all while shaking his head. Thankfully for him, we managed to get through an intersection as he stopped traffic for us but he couldn’t piggy back us the entire way.

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  19. Thank you. I was nearly creamed by an impatient driver the last time I was in a procession. He cut in from a merge lane, barely missing my car’s front end, then flipped the bird and tore off.

    Another driver cut into our procession and drove with us for over a kilometre, totally clueless that she was in a funeral procession.

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  20. Well said, OP.

    My MIL had a police escort when she died in 2005. (Probably because 3 fire trucks came to the house).

    People always talk about misappropriated taxes and resources but I truly believe, now… Having followed a procession without an escort after that one said funeral (we experienced the whole cut off thing), surely (after reading a former post in how some eps let their cars idle for hours), at least one car to be the leader.

    Respect should just be taken out of the dictionary.
    People don’t even know what it means anymore.
    It’s both sad and maddening.

    “We all wanna do when we all wanna do it”.
    Some people will get mad at me when I say it but it’s the truth.
    Respect has been lost.

    Jmho.

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  21. Question, I want to show respect, here in whitehorse, the other day, on the other lane, was one .. I am sapposed to pull over just like if there was an ambulance right, to show respect? Other drivers honked at me… but there has to be more education on this matter, especially in drivers school…

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  22. I was from a small town in manitoba and am 41 got my licence at the age of 18 and new this. also out of respect traffic that is in front of this persuasion should move over to the side and let them through

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  23. I think that people need to be educated on this when they get their drivers licence , hopefully it won’t take someone getting killed on the way to their loved ones grave! I grew up in a small town and I thought this was a small town courtesy . I saw it once on 50th and it almost brought me to tears to see everyone gracefully pulling to the side and allowing the procession through . I was a widow at 29 yrs old and I have lost several loved ones in the 12 yrs since . I can’t think of a moment in my life where I could have used human compassion more.I think the key here is to educate our youth because these things are usually learned in church and school and with religion removed from many schools and many families removed From church it maybe time for this to be part of drivers education .

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  24. I was raised old school ways knowing this respect as well as to respect my elders and speak only when spoken to unless they disrespected me. I still follow the rules and respect the funeral processions but I also feel that because there are so many young drivers as well as people from different cultures that may not know or understand or respect our rules of the road that they don’t know the proper way to respect our ways.

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  25. I would say it is very rude to cut off merge in. Only a couple things in my opinion would trump that courtesy. 1. Driving my wife to have our baby to the hospital. 2. Something terrible has happened to a member of my family.

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  26. I agree that people have to follow the rules of the road, but 2-3 minutes to wait would mean the procession is very, very short; perhaps the hearse and the family car can make it through an intersection in 2-3 minutes.

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  27. Excellent article! I agree that dealing with a loved one’s passing and attending their funeral is difficult enough without rude people interrupting the funeral procession on the way to the cemetery. It is just plain respect to stop or stay out of the way of a funeral procession. Unfortunately, there are are a lot of disrespectful drivers/people in our society.

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  28. When my Grandpa passed, an entire construction zone stopped their work, removed their hard hats, and stood with their hands folded until we passed. It was so respectful I’ll never forget it.

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  29. Wow I can’t believe how ignorant some people can be. I have been to many funerals over the years and some of the people come from out of town and do not know the city well so by sticking together in a procession which provides them the courtesy of following the lead car to the cemetery so they don’t get lost. Maybe those of you who have not suffered a loss should reserve their comments for when you do and then maybe you might understand the significance of funeral procession etiquette and then see how you feel. For those of you who have been through it and still have this nasty attitude some day it will be you and your family think about that, why don’t you.

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    1. Ignorant? This guy knows the traffic laws as it pertains to funerals and is merely asking driver to follow them *as they should be*. He should not have to ask this. How exactly is *he* ignorant? And are you really suggesting that you are entitled to break traffic laws because you have places to be? Because that’s sure how what you wrote came across.

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    2. Jason, I am the author of the article. I am not ignorant. I work from a place of love and respect for people living through one of the darkest times of their lives. No matter what you obviously think of yourself, please know that you are loved my friend.

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