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Tradition of Stopping for Funeral Processions May Become Law

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RALEIGH — Respecting the dead might become a matter of law when it comes to the rules of the road.

Pulling over or stopping when a funeral procession is passing by is a matter of courtesy now, butlawmakerswant to make it a requirement.

It is tradition versus changing times. The number of motorists on the roads who may not be aware of the customary Southern courtesy is growing.

Then there are those who just feel they should not have to give up their time or right of way. The measure lawmakers are considering would put all drivers on the same pace.

The slow pace of a funeral procession is like fitting a square peg in a traffic circle. Things are not the way they use to be.

"At that time, most everyone would stop for you to go," said funeral home employee Crafton Hudson.

Hudson has been in the funeral business for 40 years. He says that some drivers these days do not have time to wait.

"In recent years, it has been a little less obvious that people would stop. Some of them would; some of them would not," explained Hudson.

While there are no hard facts and figures, the head of the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association conceded during a meeting that there have been a number of accidents during funeral processions.

Still, lawmakers want to preserve the sacred Southern courtesy.

"Those who want to pay the courtesy or respect would be required to either slow down in the extreme right side of the road or pull completely off," saidRep. William Wainwright.

In an informal street poll, motorists, including Daryl Dishman, say Southern hospitality should be extended even to those who can not say "thank you."

"I think everybody, sometimes, gets rushed by. Still, it goes back to common courtesy in that situation," said Dishman.

The measure has been assigned to a committee. This is not the first time lawmakers have tackled the subject.