In Massachusetts, I recently witnessed a funeral procession going one way on a road. In the other direction on the road was a school bus that stopped opposite the middle of the funeral procession and put out its stop sign (which normally requires all traffic in both directions to stop). In this situation, are the remaining cars in funeral procession required to stop?

The laws on funeral processions are here: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter85/Section14A.

The most relevant bits are the following:

(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (4) of this subsection, pedestrians and operators of all vehicles 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.

(4) A funeral procession shall have the right-of-way at intersections regardless of traffic control devices subject to the following conditions and exceptions:

(i) operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right-of-way to an approaching emergency vehicle emitting an audible siren or flashing emergency lights;

(ii) operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by law enforcement personnel; and

(iii) operators of vehicles in a funeral procession must exercise due care when participating in a funeral procession.

Meanwhile, the laws on school buses are here: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter90/section14

The most relevant bit is the following:

When approaching a vehicle which displays a sign bearing the words ''SCHOOL BUS'' and which is equipped with front and rear alternating flashing red signal lamps which are flashing, as provided in section seven B, and which has been stopped to allow pupils to alight from or board the same, a person operating a motor vehicle or trackless trolley shall, except when approaching from the opposite direction on a divided highway, bring his vehicle or trackless trolley to a full stop before reaching said school bus and shall not thereafter proceed until the warning signals are deactivated, unless directed to the contrary by a police officer duly authorized to control the movement of traffic.

It seems like the funeral procession clearly has the right of way if it has a police escort, but I'm not sure what happens if it doesn't.

  • 4
    IANAL. I believe this is not an issue of "right-of-way" but one of interdiction. The school bus law demands a full stop. It is as if the road is blocked for all traffic, not just yielding the way. Ther question might be mistaking one concept for the other. Apr 13, 2022 at 18:32
  • 1
    Good question. I don't know the answer. Frequently funeral escort vehicles are operated by off duty police officers as a private sector function rather than as government officials as they would when on duty, so the authority of funeral escort vehicles is limited to that expressly conferred upon them by MA law.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 13, 2022 at 23:15
  • I don't know the actual law, but I'd be surprised if it wasn't the schoolbus. You don't want children running across the road and getting hit by hearses.
    – nick012000
    Aug 27 at 11:15


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