Senate Bill No. 439
(By Senators Love, Schoonover, Kessler, Fanning, Helmick and
[Introduced February 9, 1998; referred to the Committee
on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend chapter seventeen-c of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article twenty-three,
relating to traffic regulations and laws of the road;
providing for right-of-way for funeral processions;
definitions; required equipment; and liability.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter seventeen-c of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by
adding thereto a new article, designated article twenty-three, to
read as follows:
ARTICLE 23. FUNERAL PROCESSIONS.
(a) "Funeral director" and "funeral establishment" have the
same meaning as set forth in section four, article six, chapter
thirty of this code.
(b) "Funeral procession" means two or more vehicles
accompanying the body of a deceased person, or traveling to the
church, chapel, cemetery or other location at which the funeral
service or final disposition is to be held, including a funeral
lead vehicle or a funeral escort vehicle.
(c) "Funeral lead vehicle" means any authorized law
enforcement or nonlaw-enforcement motor vehicle or a funeral
escort vehicle being used to lead and facilitate the movement of
a funeral procession. A funeral hearse may serve as a funeral
(d) "Funeral escort" means a person or entity that provides
escort services for funeral processions, including law- enforcement personnel and agencies.
(e) "Funeral escort vehicle" means any motor vehicle that
escorts a funeral procession.
§17C-23-2. Funeral procession right-of-way; funeral escort
vehicles; funeral lead vehicles.
(a) Regardless of any traffic control device or right-of-way
provisions prescribed by state or local ordinance, pedestrians
and operators of all vehicles, except as stated in subdivision (c) of this section, 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.
(b) When the funeral lead vehicle lawfully enters an
intersection, either by reason of a traffic control device or at
the direction of law-enforcement personnel, the remaining
vehicles in the funeral procession may follow through the
intersection regardless of any traffic control devices or
right-of-way provisions prescribed by state or local law.
(c) Funeral processions have the right-of-way at
intersections regardless of traffic control devices subject to
the following conditions and exceptions:
(1) Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall
yield the right-of-way to an approaching emergency vehicle giving
an audible or visible signal;
(2) Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession shall
yield the right-of-way when directed to do so by a police
(3) Operators of vehicles in a funeral procession must
exercise due care when participating in a funeral procession.
§17C-23-3. Driving in procession.
(a) All vehicles comprising a funeral procession shall
follow the preceding vehicle in the funeral procession as closely as is practical and safe.
(b) Any ordinance, law, or rule stating that motor vehicles
shall be operated to allow sufficient space enabling any other
vehicle to enter and occupy such space without danger is not
applicable to vehicles in a funeral procession.
(a) Liability for any death, personal injury, or property
damage suffered on or after the first day of July, one thousand
nine hundred ninety-eight, by any person in a funeral procession
may not be imposed upon a funeral director or funeral
establishment or their employees or agents unless the death,
personal injury or property damage is proximately caused by the
negligent or intentional act of a funeral director or funeral
establishment or their employees or agents.
(b) A funeral director or funeral establishment or their
employees or agents, funeral escort or other participant that
leads, organizes or participates in a funeral procession in
accordance with this section are presumed to have acted with
(c) Except for a grossly negligent or intentional act by a
funeral director or funeral establishment or their employees or
agents there may be no liability on the part of a funeral
director or funeral establishment or their employees or agents for failing, on or after the first day of July, one thousand nine
hundred ninety-eight, to use reasonable care in the planning or
selection of the route to be followed by the funeral procession.
All nonlaw-enforcement funeral escort vehicles and funeral
lead vehicles may be equipped with at least one lighted
circulation flashing lamp exhibiting an amber or purple light or
lens. Flashing amber or purple lights may be used when such
vehicles are used in a funeral procession.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the right- of-way for funeral processions. It provides definitions,
equipment to be used and limits liability in certain situations.
This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.