Skip to Main Content

National safety board recommends evaluating parade policies 

Since 2011, there have been at least eight fatal parade accidents in the United States. After examining a 2012 accident in Midland, Texas, that claimed four lives and injured 12, the National Transportation Safety Board published a report calling local governments to step up parade precautions and policies.

The Board suggests having a written safety plan as part of the event approval process that, at a minimum, addresses risk mitigation, contingency planning, safety briefings, driver and vehicle screenings, float safety and notifying railroads or other entities about potential hazards. The report summarized parade policies for nine municipalities and universities, and only one, Dallas, Texas, required event organizers to submit a route plan for approval.

The National Transportation Safety Board encourages parade organizers to implement parade policies to mitigate risk.
According to Spring Lake Fire Chief Joseph McLamb, Spring Lake has a coordinated effort between fire, police, public works and parade organizers to ensure a safe event. Town employees will consider parade routes, length and timing.

McLamb said having a mapped route helps emergency responders know which fire hydrants will be blocked, where traffic will bottleneck and what businesses and residences they won’t be able to reach.

“This is a coordinated event, and these agencies should plan, plan, plan,” McLamb said. “Everyone needs to be on the same sheet of music and know his or her job function.”

Parade Tips from Risk Management Services

The following is a list of suggested parade precautions from the League’s Risk Management Services. The list is not comprehensive, and your planning committee should consider hazards presented by your town’s particular activities and the controls in place to protect participants and spectators. The town must also adhere to any local ordinances and state laws related to parade activities. Please contact Risk Management Services if you have any safety, loss control, or insurance questions at 1-800-228-0986.

Fire Safety

  • Include your fire marshal as part of the planning process to establish safety guidelines.
  • Avoid open flames on floats including torches and candles.
  • Prohibit smoking near floats.
  • Have fire extinguishers easily accessible.

Parade Participants

  • For the protection of children, candy should not be thrown along the parade route.
  • No one should be permitted to ride on the float in transit to the parade route.
  • Children should not ride a float without adult supervision.
  • Participants should not ride on any section of a vehicle that is not designed for safe transport of passengers, including fire trucks.
  • Float riders should have a safety belt or handle bars while the float is moving.
  • Participants should not walk next to or near floats and vehicles.


  • All float vehicles should be filled with gasoline before entry to the parade. No extra gasoline should be carried on the float.
  • Decorations should be clear of the exhaust system.
  • Portable generators should be properly secured to the float, and re-fueling of generators should be prohibited.
  • Floats should be sturdy enough to carry participants and equipment.
  • Driver should have a wide, unobstructed view.
  • All vehicles should have a licensed driver who is at least 18 years old.
  • Consider easy access points for emergency vehicles.
  • Vehicle operators should not be permitted to perform special maneuvers like burnouts, doughnuts or racing.
  • Provide adequate space between vehicles. Especially those that make a lot of noise.