Ask a chief: What are the rules for funeral processions and for drivers who come across them?
A: There are a number of Minnesota statutes regarding funeral processions. 169.20 Subd. 6 states that when any funeral procession identifies itself by using regular lights on all cars and by keeping all cars in close formation, the driver of every other vehicle, except an emergency vehicle, shall yield the right-of-way.
609.501 Subd. 2.(2) further tells us that it is a misdemeanor to intentionally disrupt a funeral procession, or to impede or attempt to impede a vehicle that is part of the procession.
Lastly, a funeral home vehicle may have flashing lights. After determining that those flashing lights are for a funeral procession and not an emergency vehicle answering a call, you do not need to pull over if you are not a hindrance to the procession. You do have to stay out of the way, which might mean you wait at an intersection for the procession to pass by. Processions only last a few minutes; time which we can use to ponder the deeper aspects of life.
As a member of a funeral procession you can do your part by listening to the funeral director’s instructions; move promptly to your vehicle after the service, make sure your headlights are on, and follow at a safe but close enough distance that it will be apparent to other drivers you are part of the funeral procession.
Funerals are stressful enough, as good citizens let’s do what we can to help each other along the way.–Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe