The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 16, 2013

Courtesy governs state's funeral processions

(Continued)

Mullins suggests that along with driving with headlights and emergency flashers on, vehicles in a funeral procession should be marked with flags or some other obvious identification.

With all the distractions drivers face today, Sheffield Fire Chief Dewey King said it might be time to discontinue the time-honored tradition of the funeral procession.

King said it's only a matter of time before someone participating in a procession is injured by a driver in a hurry or one who is not paying attention.

Instead of having a procession, King said after the funeral service, people should arrange to meet at the cemetery at a certain time.

"There's going to come a time when somebody has to address this," King said.

Presently, however, Sheffield and other Shoals police departments continue to provide escorts for funeral processions unless there is an emergency situation.

"If we have a bank robbery going on, you ain't going to get no police escort," said King, who also is serving as the interim Sheffield police chief.

Escorting a funeral procession normally requires a patrol car to lead the procession and another to block intersections before the procession arrives to allow them to proceed.

King, who worked at a funeral home for 13 years, said processions usually start out fine.

"Whenever you have a funeral procession, the first four or five cars work perfectly," King said. "Then you get some stragglers."

Some people might not get in line as quickly as others, and King said he worries that a driver could get broadsided while passing through an intersection against a traffic signal.

"Police don't have the numbers to block each intersection to make sure they're clear," King said. "There are no markings on the cars, and people are not paying attention driving cars today."

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