People often take their own safety for granted. Due to our busy, always connected lives, we don’t usually check our surroundings and notice potential hazards, nor do we notice when measures have been taken to ensure our protection. For example, when shopping at your local grocery store, do you ever expect a vehicle intrusion? Statistically speaking, there are, on average, 60 vehicle crashes into commercial buildings every day. That’s as many as 20,000 per year, causing about 4,000 serious injuries and approximately 500 deaths. These figures don’t even count residential vehicle intrusions.
Assembly member Bill Quirk of District 20 in Sacramento, California, authored AB 2161 to bring needed awareness to storefront crashes and find a solution to the number of crashes that occur annually. AB 2161 goes into effect on January 1, 2017. This measure encourages state building code changes that will help architects, parking lot designers, engineers and risk management professionals specify increased protection for people and property.
The Storefront Safety Council has been compiling storefront crash data for a number of years in an effort to raise awareness to this common, yet completely preventable, problem. Statistics consistently show that almost half of all storefront accidents are the result of pedal error, and that drivers with less than five years driving experience and drivers over 70 years old are most prone to committing such errors. Unfortunately, this sets the stage for a surge of these crashes in coming years.
Also included in the statistics are the vehicle-into-building crash counts in commission of a robbery. These “crash-and-grab” events on unprotected stores usually yield greater repair costs than the amount necessary to replace any stolen inventory.
The Storefront Safety Council acknowledges that minimizing human driving error or stopping theft is out of the hands of storeowners—but protecting the storefront is well within their control. By making your storefront less vulnerable, intentional and accidental intrusions can be prevented without making the storefront visually uninviting. Recommendations include:
- Limit, or eliminate nose-in parking wherever possible.
- Design parking lots so that cars do not approach store entrances directly.
- If nose-in parking is a design requirement, install American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)-approved steel bollards or other engineered barriers in a footing designed to handle the energy from a front impact. This includes parking spaces, ADA ramps and exposed pedestrian areas.
- If a parking lot layout includes lanes that point directly at store or office entrances, or if the construction of the buildings is such that little crash protection is offered to customers or employees inside, installing steel bollards or approved barriers is also sensible. Oncoming cars under acceleration can be lethal in the event of a pedal error.
The incorporation of bollards into a storefront’s layout is the most common, and easiest solution. Fixed post bollards are the most commonly used and are ideal for any application from simple traffic control to the toughest perimeter defense needs. These bollards create a physical barrier to protect pedestrians and buildings from oncoming vehicles while allowing free movement in between the bollards. Embedded bollards with a properly engineered footing offer the most dependable protection.
Bollards that satisfy the ASTM International (F3016) test method have been given a penetration rating for vehicle protective devices subjected to low-speed vehicle impact. Knowing the penetration rating provides the end user with the ability to select an appropriate protective device for site-specific conditions. Property owners can correspond with engineers and representatives from leading bollard installers and suppliers to ensure that their crash protection initiatives involving bollards will be sufficient.
Many safety experts say that for a modest cost — often $10,000 or less — bollards can be installed that give customers, employees and pedestrians substantial protection from vehicles that otherwise might jump a curb and destroy a storefront. Though safety bollards won’t prevent accidents from occurring, they may protect valuable property from being damaged—and most importantly, save lives.
Carlos Gonzalez:Bollards Dept. Manager, Calpipe Security Bollards