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Car Show Safety Risks

It's no secret that car shows are fun for all ages. Owners enjoy the opportunity to display their prized vehicles, win awards and have conversations with others who share their passion. Spectators enjoy seeing history on display and spending their day enjoying a slightly out-of-the-ordinary activity.

Types of Threats

Unfortunately, with any public event, there are always safety concerns that need to be considered and addressed during the planning stages. In this article, we outline the top risks to consider when organizing your show - and tips for mitigating them.

- City Codes and Fines

Before anything else, it is imperative that you talk with your local fire marshal about current fire codes in the city where your event will be hosted. In light of recent tragedies involving temporary structures, there will likely be strict restrictions and regulations governing the use of tents and other such structures. For example, certain cities now require fire extinguishers and exit signs to be posted in tents of a certain size.

If these ordinances are not followed, you can face hefty fines - and the possibility that your event will be closed down for noncompliance. Be prepared to submit a map of your lot prior to the event, and expect the fire marshal to stop by the show to inspect the property and confirm that you are complying with all codes and ordinances.

- Health Codes and Fines

If there will be food, or food vendors, at your event, you will also need to comply with local health code regulations. You will need to call the local health department to figure out what sorts of paperwork and fees are required to serve food. Similar to fire code violations, noncompliance with health codes can also result in fines and the termination of your event.

- Tents

Tents are great for providing shade and protection from the elements. However, they can also pose a threat to both cars and people at the event if they are not properly secured. It is imperative that all temporary structures are anchored to the ground with stakes or weights (i.e., water barrels, sandbags, concrete blocks, etc.). That way, unexpected gusts of wind won't cause a tent or canopy to careen into an expensive car or, worse, an innocent bystander.

- Pets

Car shows are typically outdoor events, and there are pet owners who enjoy taking their pets to such functions. While it is totally up to you whether or not you allow pets at your event, it is important to understand the liability that they present. Though it is generally unusual, pets can bite if provoked. If the incident occurs at your event, you can potentially be held responsible.

- Injuries

Unfortunately, accidents do occur at events. People trip and fall. People are stung by bees. There are all sorts of scenarios that can unfold without warning.

In order to hopefully lessen the severity of accidents and/or injuries that may occur, you might want to consider hiring an EMT to be present at your show. That way, should any injuries occur, immediate medical attention can be offered. Contact your local hospital or fire station for options.

- Security

While you always hope that there won't be any trouble at your event, it's always a good idea to have some sort of security officer on the premises to help deter - and deal with - any unpleasant situations. Remember, you are going to be playing host to expensive cars and, hopefully, several hundred people. You want to be sure that you offer everyone a safe and comfortable environment.

Talk to your local sheriff's office about hiring a deputy to patrol your event. If your show benefits a charity, an officer might be willing to donate their time. Hiring a security guard from a local security company is also an option.

- Hazardous Activities

Many car shows offer various types of activities to keep car owners entertained during judging and to help generate community interest. It's important to carefully consider the hazards inherent with different types of activities. For example, at family-friendly events like car shows, bounce houses for children are often popular. Though they are fun, serious injuries can also occur with these inflatable structures. Well in advance of the event, you want to be sure that you brainstorm the different types of activities you want to offer and then carefully weigh the pros and cons.

Likewise, if you decide to offer vendors the opportunity to set up shop at your show, you will want to be sure that any demonstrations or activities they offer do not pose significant liability threats.

- Alcohol

To keep the event family-friendly, many car shows choose not to serve alcoholic beverages - or allow them on the premises. Alcohol can unintentionally cause reckless behavior, which can unfortunately result in serious accidents. Think carefully about whether or not alcohol is appropriate for your particular car show or auto event.

Minimizing Your Liability

One of the smartest things that you can do to help minimize your liability for accidents, and the threat of legal recourse, is to incorporate an indemnification waiver in your registration form. Signing the registration form will then be acknowledgment that the participant has read the waiver and agrees to participate at their own risk.

We highly recommend that you consult a legal professional for liability advice tailored specifically to your show.

Potential items to include in your waiver are the following:

  • The participant is aware of the risks inherent with motor vehicle events and is voluntarily participating at their own risk.
  • The participant agrees to assume all risk of injury, property damage, theft and loss that might occur when traveling to or participating in the event.
  • The participant agrees to release you and any sponsors from all liability.
  • You reserve the right to revoke registration, and retain registration fees, if the participant begins engaging in reckless or dangerous behavior.
  • The participant agrees to allow you to use their name, and any photos taken of them during the event, for marketing or publicity.
  • The participant certifies that their car is insured to meet their state's legal liability requirements.
  • The participant attests that they are of age to enter a contract and that they are the person named in the registration form.

The information printed herein was obtained from sources believed to be reliable. American National, its affiliates, subsidiaries and employees assume no liability in connection with the information or the safety suggestions provided. These recommendations are general in nature. Unique circumstances may require implementation of some or all of the safety suggestions, or counsel with a legal professional. There may be additional available safety procedures that are not referenced in this document.