Want to Save Lives? Install Pedestrian Bollards

Pedestrian BollardsIn the past several years, a disturbing trend has emerged: cars unintentionally (or intentionally) slamming into commercial storefronts.

  • The Eastland Family Dollar storefront in Columbus was destroyed when a car drove through its front windows and fled the scene.
  • In February 2023, a Chicago man was awarded $91 million from 7-Eleven after he lost both his legs in 2017 when a car attempting to park in front of the store hit the gas instead of the brake and pinned the man between the building and the vehicle. The award was the largest pretrial recovery for anyone injured in Illinois.
  • In June 2022, vehicles crashed into two restaurants and an ice shop within a 12-hour timeframe in Columbus, injuring three people.

According to the Storefront Safety Council, more than 100 storefront crashes occur every day in the U.S. These incidents involve collisions with retail stores, offices, bus stops, shopping centers, post offices, restaurants, and more. They result in approximately 16,000 injuries and more than 2,600 fatalities annually.

What are storefront crashes?

Storefront crashes, also known as vehicle-into-building crashes, building strikes, or storefront accidents, occur when a motor vehicle collides with a building, typically a commercial establishment with a storefront. These potentially avoidable incidents can result in significant property damage, injuries, and even fatalities. Here are some important factors related to storefront crashes:

  • Cause. Storefront crashes can occur due to various reasons, including driver error, medical emergencies, pedal misapplication (mistaking the accelerator for the brake), reckless driving, impaired driving (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), distracted driving (texting while driving), mechanical failure, or intentional acts such as vandalism or terrorism.
  • Impact. The impact of a vehicle crashing into a building can cause extensive damage to the structure, including broken windows, doors, and walls. The force of the collision can also lead to structural instability, risking collapse or further damage to the building.
  • Injuries and fatalities. Storefront crashes can result in injuries or fatalities to occupants of the vehicle, pedestrians, customers, employees, or residents inside the building. The severity of injuries can vary depending on the speed the vehicle is traveling, the angle of impact, and whether occupants were wearing seat belts.
  • Regulations and standards. Building codes and regulations may include requirements for building design and construction to enhance resilience against vehicle impacts. Additionally, organizations such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) have developed standards for vehicle barriers and crash testing procedures to assess their effectiveness in preventing storefront crashes.
  • Prevention. Measures to prevent storefront crashes include implementing traffic calming measures, e.g., speed bumps and traffic islands, installing barriers (bollards or planters) around buildings to protect storefronts, improving visibility with adequate lighting and signage, educating drivers about the dangers of distracted or impaired driving, and enforcing traffic laws and building codes.

Storefront crashes pose significant risks to public safety and property, highlighting the importance of proactive measures to prevent such incidents and mitigate their impact when they occur. Collaboration between government agencies, businesses, architects, engineers, and traffic safety experts, is essential to address the complicated challenges associated with storefront crashes.

What are pedestrian bollards?

Pedestrian bollards are sturdy, short vertical posts or barriers installed in urban or pedestrian areas to provide protection and delineate spaces for pedestrians. These bollards serve several purposes, including:

  • Safety. Pedestrian bollards are primarily installed to enhance safety by creating a physical barrier between vehicular traffic and pedestrians. They help prevent vehicles from accidentally or intentionally entering pedestrian zones, such as sidewalks, plazas, or pedestrian-only streets, reducing the risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions and improving pedestrian safety.
  • Security. Besides enhancing safety, pedestrian bollards can also improve security by protecting pedestrians and buildings from intentional vehicle attacks, such as ram-raiding or terrorism. Bollards made from heavy-duty materials like steel or concrete are designed to withstand the impact of a vehicle, reducing the likelihood of damage and injuries in such scenarios.
  • Traffic management. Pedestrian bollards help manage traffic flow and guide pedestrian movement in busy urban areas. They can be strategically placed to define crosswalks, pedestrian walkways, or seating areas, providing visual cues to both pedestrians and drivers and promoting orderly and safe traffic behavior.
  • Aesthetics. Pedestrian bollards come in various designs and materials, ranging from simple metal posts to decorative elements that complement the architectural style of the surrounding environment. They contribute to the aesthetic appeal of urban spaces while also serving functional purposes.
  • Deterrent. The presence of bollards can serve as a visual and psychological deterrent against reckless driving, unauthorized vehicle access, or malicious intent. Their conspicuous placement sends a signal to drivers that they are entering a pedestrian zone, encouraging them to slow down and exercise caution, helping to lower the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Accessibility. In pedestrian zones, bollards are often intended to allow for pedestrian access while restricting entry for vehicles. Removable or retractable bollards may be used in areas where occasional vehicle access is required, such as for deliveries or emergency vehicles, providing flexibility while maintaining pedestrian safety. However, accessibility needs for all users must be considered. Bollards should be designed and installed in a way that maintains accessibility for pedestrians, including those using mobility aids like wheelchairs or strollers.

Pedestrian bollards play a critical role in creating safer and more pedestrian-friendly urban environments by separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic, enhancing security, guiding traffic flow, and contributing to the overall design and functionality of public spaces.

Were you seriously injured in a storefront crash in Columbus? Speak with the respected attorneys at Soroka & Associates—we’ll answer your questions, review your case, and protect your rights. Please call us at our Columbus office or fill out our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation. Our firm serves clients in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio. We represent clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we only get paid if you receive a verdict or settlement. Contact us today.