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Tbag's avatar

How is it that you have to slow down your whole life, but when you die, they let cars run through red lights? What's the hurry all for?

Asked by Tbag (3325points) March 24th, 2012

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15 Answers

linguaphile's avatar

Laugh! Good point, I never thought of that.

I think they let all the cars through to keep the line together (unbroken by red lights) and to have a chain of cars united in a long line, with lights on, to give the memory of the deceased some visual and public recognition. I’m sure there’s a historical element in there somewhere, like from funeral processions.

jca's avatar

I think also, it’s more dignified to have the procession arriving at the cemetery at the same time, so the burial ceremony can proceed, instead of having to wait for the various automobiles to arrive at different times due to getting stuck at lights or in traffic.

dabbler's avatar

I think it’s partly a safety issue. Many of the drivers won’t really know where they’re going and in their grief they may do crazy things to keep with the cars ahead.

MrItty's avatar

The funeral procession is considered one long united entity. It’s not individual cars running through red lights. It’s one long motorized unit that started going through the intersection when the light was green, and continued going through when the light had turned red. If the light is red before the procession gets to the intersection, the whole procession waits for it.

jca's avatar

@MrItty: We know that. We are trying to determine the reason why.

Trillian's avatar

Your idea of hurry is incorrect. A funeral cortege goes rather slowly, also out of respect for the dead.
Vehicle Law Title 21 Section 207 in Maryland states: The law allows anyone in a procession to pass through a red light as long as the first vehicle in the procession went through it while it was still green. This privilege is accorded only if a vehicle’s headlights are on. While the procession goes through the red signal, any other vehicle with a green light can enter the intersection only if it will not cross the procession’s path (Md. Code Ann. � 21–207).
Most states have a law like this.
Beyond that, it’s considered respect and common courtesy.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’ve always that the concept of a funeral procession to the cemetery was sort of grotesque. After all, everyone just mourned for the poor schmuck at the church/synagogue. What’s the point of the journey to the cemetery just to see the guy planted in the ground?

Perhaps for the family, that act provides some closure, but for everyone else, the cemetery thing seems rather tribal and antiquated.

But to address the question: where I live (Georgia) there are rent-a-cops that will stop traffic for the entire length of the funeral procession, even if it blocks major arterial and collector roads. Stopping traffic for 5 minutes of a procession can muck up an intersection for 40 minutes in recovery.

Suppose an ambulance/fire truck needs to get through? Does the emergency vehicle have precedence over the dead guy?

jca's avatar

@elbanditoroso: Of course. Do you really think they’d let a house burn down or a person die because the line of cars had to stay together?

Coloma's avatar

I ran a red light once rushing my dog to the emergency vet after he had been shot by a neighboring rancher.
When it’s a matter of life and death the rules no longer apply.

” Keep off the grass” does not mean if someone keels over from a heart attack and falls on the off limits grass that you just stand by and watch them die. haha

ro_in_motion's avatar

I believe that funeral processions got the ‘no red light’ treatment due to one or more of the following:

In the days before well-sealed coffins and modern embalming, the sooner you planted the stiff the less your chance of having a body baking and leaving an odiferous smell.

Perhaps it was from bribing the cops to do so. It let the mortuary people get back to the office in record time. The more funerals in a day, the more they profit.

As I am new here and not sure if my satire is obvious or not: joking.

filmfann's avatar

These days most people drive like dogs, so I will not drive through red lights while in a funeral procession, unless we have a police escort.

Trillian's avatar

@filmfann You know dogs who drive? That’s awesome! I once had a dog that chased cars, but if he ever caught one I know he wouldn’t know how to drive the damn thing. ;-)

PurpleClouds's avatar

It’s a sign of respect to let the funeral parade go through a light. Some cities have stopped the practice, I hear.

jca's avatar

@filmfann: This reminds me of a Far Side cartoon (how I loved and miss the Far Side!) that had a split screen, two dogs driving, and laughing, and the other screen was a close-up of the dog’s paw writing a note, and the note said: “Dear Mastr: We took the car and are driving to town. Stay. STAY!”

gondwanalon's avatar

You give up your green light as a sign of respect and to reflect on your own life. This encourages you to take a few seconds to appreciate your life and also to be grateful that you are not laying in that box going by.

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