A FUNERAL director is calling on drivers to be more respectful when confronted by a hearse and its cortege.
Robin Hardy, manager of The Co-operative Funeralcare, in Hartlepool, said the majority of motorists on Hartlepool’s roads are courteous. But a minority are cutting between cars following hearses, overtaking processions and not giving mourners enough space.
He raised his concerns as the national office of The Co-operative Funeralcare carried out a survey that found that the north of England sees the most road rage-type incidents against funeral cars compared to the rest of the country.
Mr Hardy, who is based in Strathmore House, in Stockton Road, said he has not seen road rage against any of his staff in the town, but a lack of etiquette is often on show.
He added: “When I started 30 years ago there was much more respect on the roads. People would pull to one side but now they just continue.
“We don’t have any road rage as such and most people are quite courteous. But some drivers, particularly younger drivers, do not have enough understanding and pull out when they shouldn’t or block the cortege. Roundabouts are particularly difficult.
“I think a lot of it is down to naivety and a lack of education on the matter. But people should be paying more attention and giving more respect.
“I imagine a lot of the problems are in the larger towns and cities. Hopefully it does not start to happen here.”
Mr Hardy said he provides people in the cortege with markers for their car window to indicate they are following a hearse and asks drivers to turn on their headlights.
The Co-operative Funeralcare carried out a survey of 2,000 drivers and said results showed that three out of four drivers said they would consider pulling over to let a funeral cortege pass as a sign of respect.
Nine out of 10 said they would drive at a slower speed to remain behind the funeral procession.
However, one in 12 drivers said they were unaware that they should not sound their horn at the cortege or avoid breaking into the procession.
The survey also found a generational divide among motorists with those aged 65 years old or older being twice as likely as drivers under 45 to show respect on the roads to funeral corteges.
David Collingwood, operations director for The Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “When it comes to paying your last respects to someone very close to you, understandably you want the funeral to go smoothly and surely a little respect and courtesy from passing motorists is appreciated during one of the most difficult times of your life.”