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Vehicles crash into storefronts about 60 times each day across the United States. Such incidents cause about 4,000 major injuries annually, and about 500 fatalities.

These findings were reported by the Storefront Safety Council, which aims to spread awareness about the dangers of such crashes.

Retail outlets were the most common types of stores to be involved in crashes, followed closely by convenience stores, restaurants and miscellaneous types of businesses. Offices and commercial buildings were less commonly hit by vehicles.

Business owners everywhere must be aware of their risks and know how to be prepared for a vehicle crash.

 

Why so many crashes?

Studies show that “pedal error,” where drivers mistake their gas pedals for their brakes, is the leading cause of damage to buildings from vehicle impact.

Drivers can also confuse ‘Drive’ with ‘Park’ on their automatic transmissions, while drivers of all ages get distracted or suffer medical emergencies and fail to brake in time, or at all, when entering or leaving parking areas.

Even in a best‐case‐scenario incident where no injuries occur, a vehicle collision into a building can cause serious damage. Simply replacing plate glass windows or doors can cost thousands of dollars.

A storefront crash puts commerce on hold – sometimes only for a few hours, sometimes for a few days and in the worst cases, permanently. While no business is immune, high customer/vehicle‐turnover locations such as convenience stores suffer many more accidents than locations with fewer visitors or separate parking facilities.

 

Prevention

A combination of methods can be implemented to protect your business from damage due to vehicle impact, as follows:

  • Direct pedestrians– Keeping pedestrians and moving vehicles separated is vital. Bollards, guardrails and signage direct people to walk in safe, predictable areas.
  • Reduce vehicle speeds– Slowing vehicles down means drivers have more time to see and react to pedestrians, other vehicles and signage, and pedestrians have more time to get out of the way. When a crash is unavoidable, the slower a vehicle’s speed, the better the chances of minimizing damage. Speed bumps are a good way to reduce speeds.
  • Shield people and property– The types of barriers that can be erected to prevent these accidents include bollard posts, large planters or other architectural items that actually enhance appearance while offering a layer of protection. Bollards can be removable, retractable or fixed, but must be tall enough for drivers to see.
  • Point cars into safety zones– Orient parking spaces so they’re pointed away from people and buildings. Arrange parking so vehicles pull in toward a planted berm or other pedestrian‐free zone.
  • Don’t rely on car stops or curbs– Standard 6- to 8-inch car stops or curbs are not effective barriers for moving vehicles. Once the wheels roll up over the edge, there’s nothing to impede the vehicle’s momentum.

 

To learn more about storefront safety, discuss your concerns with us.