Hearse Courtesy

ThatGuy 15 June 2010 21

Anyone who has been to a funeral would know that the lowering or sending off of the casket is one of the hardest parts to watch.

I witnessed an interesting spectacle of disrespect or ignorance recently when a hearse was attempting to get out of a funeral home in Belconnen. A casket was clearly visible inside and a lady from the funeral home was standing near the curb waiting for a gap in the traffic. There is also a very large sign advertising that the driveway belonged to a funeral home.

The funeral home is quite close to a set of traffic lights. These lights went red twice with no one letting the hearse in, rather they simply queued in front of it. Many more cars passed until finally someone stopped to let the hearse in. This car then kept a respectful distance while the funeral home lady led the hearse down to the lights and finally let it on its way.

I can understand that it may have been hard to see the casket inside, so maybe a few cars went past because they didn’t realise. I can also allow for a good amount of oblivious Canberran drivers. But it took many many cars before someone put two and two together.

So I’m wondering what Rioters think. Is this a sign of Canberra/Australia losing respect for the dead? Or perhaps we’re just becoming extremely oblivious or self centred drivers? Maybe it’s now old fashioned and unnecessary to give way to a hearse? Or can I be hopeful and think that this was just a once off?

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21 Responses to Hearse Courtesy
bd84 bd84 9:35 pm 16 Jun 10

kl123 said :

I only recently found out about this law/rule/courtesy about 2 weeks ago, when a friend of mine told me. I am a P plater, and have held my license for about 18 months now. Not once in the Road Ready course, or during my driving lessons did the teacher/instructor give me any inclination to be courteous towards processions. (I would anyway, but thats because i’m not a complete tool, unlike many of my P-plate counterparts).

I think there needs to be better education in the Territory about road rules/laws.

There are certainly quite a few oddities like this in the road rules that do not get covered in the nice shiney picture book that gets given to new drivers. I think drivers should receive the full road rules document when learning to drive, rather than the summary they get now. Testing of the road rules shouldn’t be a one-off done to gain your L plates, it should be another test when getting P plates, made more difficult too.

Driving instructors teaching all road rules is certainly a must, they should be a full replacement for mum and dad teaching kids to drive badly.

kl123 kl123 12:05 pm 16 Jun 10

I only recently found out about this law/rule/courtesy about 2 weeks ago, when a friend of mine told me. I am a P plater, and have held my license for about 18 months now. Not once in the Road Ready course, or during my driving lessons did the teacher/instructor give me any inclination to be courteous towards processions. (I would anyway, but thats because i’m not a complete tool, unlike many of my P-plate counterparts).

I think there needs to be better education in the Territory about road rules/laws.

ConanOfCooma ConanOfCooma 9:43 am 16 Jun 10

TBH, I actually thought there were laws that governed traffic around a funeral procession that require cars to let them in, and not cut in, interfere, etc…

I always stop, I will even happily block traffic. Nothing like being a riteous arse when it’s warranted.

trevar trevar 9:37 am 16 Jun 10

Obviously, I was raised by parents who didn’t like mathematical traditions!

trevar trevar 9:36 am 16 Jun 10

I think it’s a combination of factors, but mostly that Baby Boomers didn’t have the same inclination to pass traditions on to their children as their parents did. That, along with the fact that the traditions you’re talking about are peculiar to European countries and their post-colonial progeny, so these unwritten social protocols can only be expected to be observed by those who are
1) raised by Europeans
2) raised by parents who knew about the protocol
2) raised by parents who could be bothered teaching traditions to their children
3) able to remember the traditions, and
4) caring enough to follow them.
Not a lot of people meet all four ciscumstances.

The solution is simple, though: a brightly-coloured rope tied to the funeral home’s gatepost that runs the width of two lanes with a sign dangling from it saying “funeral in progress, please be patient”. Then the funeral home lady could just move out through the traffic with the rope while they were queued at the lights.

Morelia Morelia 9:06 am 16 Jun 10

If I’d been the lady from the funeral home I would have walked out and blocked traffic to let the hearse pass, but that’s just me, and it’s what I used to do for the removals truck I worked for. People tend not to get too angry. I don’t think people really talk about what the social protocol is, so I guess a lot of younger drivers wouldn’t have a clue.

bd84 bd84 8:52 pm 15 Jun 10

Courtesy should have been given to any car that had been waiting to join the road for a significant amount of time, hearse or not.

Ryan Ryan 7:54 pm 15 Jun 10

Perhaps the drivers weren’t technically breaking the law by not letting the hearse in, but surely showing a bit of common decency wouldn’t go astray. If you’re stopped at a red light, letting somebody in front of you isn’t going to make you any later.

dr phil dr phil 7:16 pm 15 Jun 10

late for your own funeral….. mmmmm

Fisho Fisho 6:38 pm 15 Jun 10

How are Canberrans supposed to flick through tracks on the MP3 player, get the bluetooth connector working, read the newspaper, send texts, apply makeup or perform other essential driving related activities if they waste time paying attention to other road users – hearses or otherwise?

Shame on the OP for even suggesting such a thing.

liability liability 4:35 pm 15 Jun 10

It is actually an offence to interrupt a funeral procession, but I suppose it is open to arguement as to whether the “funeral procession” had actually started in this particular case regarding the failure of people to let the hearse out onto the road.

Interrupting funeral processions etc

A driver must not interfere with, or interrupt, the free passage of—

(a) a funeral procession or any other lawful procession; or

(b) any vehicle or person forming part of a procession mentioned in paragraph (a).

Maximum penalty: 20 penalty units.

ThatGuy ThatGuy 3:16 pm 15 Jun 10

arescarti42 said :

A designated funeral procession is another matter, but just a hearse?

Doesn’t a hearse with a coffin warrant the same respect as a procession? Bear in mind that this hearse was just leaving the funeral and family members were standing out the front giving the departed their final send off.

I wonder if the family members had any ill feelings towards the motorists not letting the hearse in. Spose the departed didn’t mind so much.

Grail Grail 2:59 pm 15 Jun 10

To suggest that we’re “becoming” oblivious and self-centred implies that we aren’t already.

Welcome to Canberra ThatGuy, by the way.

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 2:31 pm 15 Jun 10

I heard the deceased, god rest his soul, was a cyclist. So maybe that had something to do with it.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 2:28 pm 15 Jun 10

Alive, dead, that’s MY spot and I WAS THERE FIRST and if I let you in I’ll have to let everybody in and then I’ll be late to pick up J’aydernne and Brîeetannîe so they can each choose a new LCD for their individual ensuite home theaters.

bigcohuna1 bigcohuna1 2:25 pm 15 Jun 10

well I always thought htat the rule was to pull over to the side of the road to let the procession flow past uninterrupted. then again ihave seen some pretty rude behaviour around some other processions (cutting in between vehicles etc)

but then as years go by what with traffic in cities? Folks explained to me that in larger cities it is obviously hard to allow a full procession to go by without cloggin up traffic. Some time ago someone said that this is why funeral processions no longer go through centre of towns or they were disallowed many years ago to stop traffic flow problems???

All I can remember is that Where possible I pull over to the side of the road, let the hears and official cars go past then when either at a respectful distance carefully pull back on to the road. Or at least move out of the way and let them go on their way.

Have been in a couple of processions and havent had any problems – but these were in country towns where even though many people are seeming to also let social standards slip, there was still a fair amount of respect for the funeral. Even when my Dad passed away – he was pretty active in the local community and as such well respected even though he was your average bloke – so much so that the local NSW Police gave a lead escort and had officers ahead to stop traffic and the senior officers formed up and asluted the hearse – no one in that town can remember that ever happening ever so it was greatly appreciated.

So all I reckon is a bit of respect and some common sense, give way to a hearse & official cars entering traffic, only pull over completely if safe (and you’re inclined) to do so, and at least keep clear and don’t overtake just because you are in a rush to get to the cafe latte shop. After all, one day it will be you either in the cars or in the hearse.

Then again, at 40 I am now an old fogey apparently might have it wrong.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 1:47 pm 15 Jun 10

Discourteous drivers in Canberra? Noooooo….

I’ll bet the people who queued across the driveway and didn’t let the hearse in could explain how they weren’t technically breaking any road rules, though.

threepaws threepaws 1:42 pm 15 Jun 10

I have seen some nice displays of courtesy from Canberra road users in the few processions that I have been involved in: a policeman issuing a ticket on the side of the road standing to attention and taking off his hat as the cars moved past him; a truck driver deliberately blocking traffic so that the whole procession could turn into the cemetary uninterrupted (and blowing his air horn at the same time); cars pulling onto the side of the road when they realise they have unwittingly joined a funeral procession.

If only Canberra drivers were so courteous day to day. You know, like making way for emergency vehicles.

Captain RAAF Captain RAAF 1:37 pm 15 Jun 10

I think the main reason is you don’t see too many hearses with coffins on the roads nowadays so people don’t know what to do, they have no experience. I remember as a young bloke in Melbourne seeing them all the time but as the years go by, they are now uncommon. Perhaps the journey from morgue to funeral home is now undertaken in something less spectacular, probably a van and they drop off the days stiff’s and then depart and the only time a hearse gets involved is for the trip to the cemetary.

With most people opting to go up in a cloud of smoke right there and then at the cemetary there is just no need for a hearse.

That or people just don’t give a toss any more.

grump grump 1:26 pm 15 Jun 10

I think a large part is that most are now unaware of the “unwritten” standards or courtesies associated – don’t cut in to the cortege, give way to one, lights on if part of a cortege behind the hearse etc. Done it twice in the last 3 years for a parent and similar issues

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