Is It A Law To Pull Over For Funeral Processions In Oklahoma?
Odds are, whether you've lived in Oklahoma long or not, you've seen vehicles pull to the side of the road to allow a funeral procession to pass. You've probably done the same thing yourself, but is it Oklahoma state law that demands it?
It was a good classic debate we had over the weekend with strict rules. No cell phones to google an answer, just pick a side and argue for it. Days later, curiosity got the better of me and I figured I'd share it with you.
As it turns out, you're not required by law to pull to the side of the road when a funeral procession comes along... However, it is customary.
When it comes to the Oklahoma laws regarding funeral processions, there is nothing on the books that says all other drivers must pull over. It's just a time-honored tradition, started in an earlier period of history, that has lived on.
When it comes down to it, it's a show of respect for a family in their time of grief. You don't have to pull over for them, but you'll be thought of as rude and insensitive by hoards of people that don't know you.
So what do the laws say about funeral processions in Oklahoma? Well, it's complicated.
First and foremost, all funeral processions must be clearly marked... an increasingly troublesome feat in modern America.
Used to be, funeral processions would drive with their lights on to signify they were part of the event. As daytime running and driving lights have become rather common, this universal signal isn't as clear as it once was. The code in Oklahoma law now mentions that vehicles turn on their flashing hazard lights to clearly distinguish who is part of the procession.
The lead car, usually the hearse carrying the casket, must be marked with a flashing (hazards) or rotating amber light to signal other traffic what is happening. Also, the lead car, and subsequently the whole procession, generally has the right of way while traveling.
In larger cities like Lawton, Norman, Edmond, etc... funerals are usually given a police escort to ease travel and provide traffic control at lights and stop signs.
Funeral processions, no matter how long, are only allowed to occupy one lane of traffic when traveling to their destination.
If you've ever thought of hopping into the procession to cut a clear path across town, you might think again. It's incredibly illegal in Oklahoma and will likely hurt you in the wallet.
Also, while you're not required to stop driving for a funeral procession in progress, you're not allowed to disrupt the line by cutting across it at any point in time. Even if there's a big gap and you really need to make that left-hand turn, you're just setting yourself up to contribute to a police officer's quarterly bonus.
All in all, the answer to whether you have to pull over for a passing funeral procession is a clear-cut "no." But like Critter always says, "You'll look like an a-hole if you don't."
There is more to the law that covers things like liability and safety, but it's geared strictly toward funeral directors. If you'd like to read it all, here's the shockingly short Oklahoma law concerning the topic.