Regulations

Maine legislators want “safe” funeral utility vehicles

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An accident in 2017 that took the life of a funeral home worker has the State of Maine legislature searching for answers on how to make funeral vehicles safer for death care employees.  Last week, according to this article, the Maine Legislature Committee on Innovation, Development, Economic Advancement and Business “ordered the Board of Funeral Services to develop new rules to protect drivers and passengers by January“.

At real issue here is the use of different utility vehicles commonly used in the funeral home business and making sure that they are always safe for those employees who are driving and riding in them.  It appears that the accident that caused the death in 2017 did so by a platform “placed in the back of an SUV slammed through the front seat during an accident”.

The article also quotes Maine State Police Cpl. Ricci Cote who said this about the 2017 incident, “Had the platform been lower, I don’t think it (the accident) would have taken his life.”

The article also points out some disappointment among those calling for more safety saying that letting the Board of Funeral Services develop the standards is not appropriate.  They believe the funeral industry has not been scrutinized enough and others should develop the standards.

Legislative committee members responded to that claim by saying “. . . the funeral board should solicit advice from engineers, automobile safety experts, lawyers, and other who can help it craft new regulations that balance the needs of funeral homes with the necessity of offering employees behind the wheel safety they deserve”.

Funeral Director Daily take:  I’ve never thought much about this issue, but now that it is brought up I can see the the safety areas that have maybe been overlooked in the past.

At our funeral home we used what we would term the “utility vehicle” for all sorts of tasks.  Back in the 1980’s that vehicle was a station wagon, and later became a “soccer mom” van, and eventually what we would term a Sport Utility Vehicle or SUV.  We used our utility vehicle for moving flowers, moving flower stands, or as a long-range mortuary transportation with the deceased on a cot, in a casket, in a cremation container, or in an air flight container.

All of those different items, if that is what we would call them, could, if not restrained properly slide into the driver’s seat from the back cargo area.  I think what this legislation is aiming at is some type of device, that when used properly, would be able to restrain the item(s) from sliding forward.

Related:  Not necessarily related to safety but to funeral vehicles, in August of 2020 Funeral Director Daily published this article about a Tesla hearse being used in Great Britain.  And, here is the website of the Wisper electric hearse from Coleman Milne distributors.

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