Stopping Traffic

    Undertakers have a long tradition of stopping traffic, it is a natural part of the industry that many think little of.  However, should they really be doing this?

    Many undertakers stop traffic, such as stepping onto the road in front of the hearse and holding their hands up to let the cortege out.  But many also use the hearse or cars to stop traffic, such as driving into an intersection and coming to a stop, forcing other cars to stop and showing them that a cortege is coming through.

    Legally drivers are not allowed to interfere with a cortege, accidentally or deliberately in NSW.  But does this even apply to these situations?  The undertaker is stopping traffic and preventing interference, but the laws regard interference with the cortege and not the undertakers right to prevent it.  I seriously doubt it gives the undertaker a legal right to actually stop cars as they see fit.

    With construction or events those that regulate traffic need training and qualifications.  There are specific courses and degrees regarding traffic control.  Yet the undertakers are stopping traffic without anything like this.  I have witnessed conductors with no more than a regular drivers license walk into the road and stop cars.  If a construction worker was to do this they would be in serious trouble.

    What if an accident occurred through the undertaker stopping traffic?  As in if the conductor stops a car, then another one runs into it.  Who would be at fault?  The undertaker who stopped the car with no legal right to do so?  In most cases this is not an issue, but I have seen undertakers stop traffic inappropriately or in questionable areas.

    I doubt this is a serious or even notable issue and is little more than a passing question.  But I find it an interesting question on our assumptions of certain roles.  How we view it as part of the job for an undertaker to stop cars and do not ask them to be qualified to do so.  Yet we think the construction worker needs special certificates to do this.

    Next time I am asked about the role of the undertaker I will think of this, and how they often play traffic warden.  That the role of a funeral director is not as clear cut or well defined as we often assume, sometimes it is rather blurry and complicated.


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