Unfortunately, I attended two funerals last week and was saddened at the behavior of drivers who showed little or no respect for the funeral procession making its way to the cemetery.
I was taught, as were many others my age, I'm sure, that one shows respect for a funeral procession by stopping and allowing that procession to pass by in its entirety. It seems many in our community were not taught such protocol
I was dismayed by that lack of respect and the boldness and, quite frankly, the rudeness, of individuals who felt the need to cut into a procession and then drive impatiently because the traffic was too slow, or those who cut in at intersections, breaking apart the line of traffic.
What I was not aware of is that not only are my manners appropriate, they are legal.
According to West Virginia Code 17C-23-2. Funeral procession right-of-way; funeral escort vehicles; funeral lead vehicles, the following is law in our state:
(a) Regardless of any traffic control device or right-of-way provisions prescribed by state or local ordinance, pedestrians and operators of all vehicles, except as stated in subsection (c) of this section, 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.
(b) When the funeral lead vehicle 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 follow through the intersection regardless of any traffic control devices or right-of-way provisions prescribed by state or local law.
(c) Funeral processions 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 a police officer; and
(3) Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession must exercise due care when participating in a funeral procession.
While I realize not everyone knows all of West Virginia Code, I would think that courtesy and respect should be more prevalent in our society. If there is a funeral procession on the roadway, slow down or stop and let them pass. Do not be an aggressive, in-a-hurry driver who thinks that nothing is more important than where you have to be. One day we all will be the honored guest in such a procession and should expect courtesy and respect; let's start showing it now for others.