Memorial Day, July 4, centennial events and other celebrations—parades bring communities together. While parades are entertainment for spectators, they also present a unique set of risks that public risk managers must address to reduce exposure and prevent losses.
Parade loss exposures are typically confined to four categories: crowd control, motor vehicle use, floats and participant activities. The more common parade hazards include participants falling off floats, performers being hit by vehicles and children being seriously injured while running toward floats or vehicles to retrieve candy or toys. It should come as no surprise to learn that these risks are perhaps the easiest to prevent, yet often times are overlooked in the parade planning process.
A 2012 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report reviewed parade policies from a sample of nine universities and municipalities and noted there was a lack of consistent parade operating rules and procedures. Of the nine policies reviewed, only one (the city of Dallas) required event organizers to submit a route plan for approval. Most policies did not address driver communication, walking support and speed limits. Only two cities and schools prohibited objects being thrown from floats. Due to the lack of parade operating standards, inadequate safety measures and/or contingency planning, parade organizers inadvertently increase the potential for adverse actions from seemingly random events.
According to the NTSB, at a minimum, a municipality’s parade policy should address: – risk mitigation – contingency planning – safety briefings – driver and vehicle screening – float safety – notification of railroads or other entities (police, fire, emergency services) about potential hazards.
Reprinted from Munich RE Public Entity Issues April 2014 Knowledge Series