We all know that there are a lot of bad drivers in Charlotte. But take those bad drivers and add in a funeral procession? Nightmare.
Here’s the bottom line: when it comes to funeral processions, Charlotte drivers don’t know what the heck they’re doing. The slow chaos that ensues when driving past a funeral procession is almost comical. (Well, besides the funeral part.)
We all know what happens when you’re stuck behind/ at an intersection during a procession. You put your car in park, open up Instagram and curse your life.
The real fun begins when you’re driving in the opposite direction of the procession. Here’s how this usually plays out:
(1) A handful of drivers pull over, causing other cars to slow down and wonder if they’re also supposed to pull over.
(2) People who don’t pull over get pissed and drive past the pulled over cars with anger in their eyes.
(3) And my favorite: There’s always one driver, for no apparent reason, who decides to put on his four-ways and drive 10 to 15 mph under the speed limit.
Are any of these people right? I wouldn’t put my money on the four-way guy but then again you never know.
To get everyone on the same funeral procession page once and for all, I decided to read the entire North Carolina Driver’s Handbook and outline my learnings below.
Just kidding. That would be way too much work.
Instead, I called CMPD for an interview. This interview never happened because apparently they don’t do funeral processions, sheriffs do.
Side Note: I can’t think of a sheriff without thinking of a man in a cowboy hat saying “I’m the sheriff of this town.” Anyone else? No? Ok.
After a few awkward phone calls, I was finally able to interview Captain Daniel Kydd from the Mecklenberg County Sheriff’s Office.
He told me everything Charlotteans need to know about the laws and courtesies surrounding funeral processions.
Here’s what I learned:
Me: To start off (because I’m dumb and don’t know) what’s the difference between a sheriff and a police officer besides jurisdiction?
Captain Kydd: The Sheriff is elected by the people, not appointed by the City Council or Mayor. The Sheriff serves as the enforcement arm of the courts, but has full law enforcement authority within its territorial jurisdiction. The Sheriff statutorily (Side note: for those who haven’t gone to law school, “statutorily” means regulated by law) is the highest ranking law enforcement official in the county.
Me: Why do funeral processions fall under the sheriff and not police officers?
Captain Kydd: The Sheriff took over funeral escorts in 2000 after CMPD chose to no longer provide this service.
Me: Do drivers in the opposite lane of a procession have to pull over? I feel like half the cars pull over and the rest just drive past with annoyed looks on their faces.
Captain Kydd: Oncoming motorists are not required to stop for a funeral escort, but it is a respectful gesture for the drivers to safely pull to the side of the road to allow the procession to pass. We suggest that drivers always pay attention and be courteous.
Me: What should we do if there’s no room on the side of the road to pull over?
Captain Kydd: If it is not safe to pull over, keep going.
Me: Well that makes sense. If someone does try to pass a funeral procession can they get a ticket?
Captain Kydd: Yes. The vehicle operator may proceed past the escort only if there are two or more lanes moving in the same direction.
Side note: You’re also not allowed to drive between vehicles in a procession or cross an intersection (even if there’s a lag in the line of cars).
Second side note: Even though it’s rare, there HAVE been a few citations and warnings issued for drivers who break into a procession. Plus, it’s super rude.
Bottom line: Mr. Four-ways, stop it. You are not correct. People who get mad at other people for pulling over, also stop it. They’re doing a respectful gesture.
Keep in mind that even though funeral processions can be a pain, some members of the procession are having the worst day of their lives. Put down your phone, be patient and keep in mind that you’ll want the same courtesy someday.