As readers of this blog and the many members of the Storefront Safety Council LinkedIn group are aware, these types of crashes are very common. With regard to the efforts of city and county officials to determine what types of barriers might be effective, affordable, and suitable for inclusion in any local ordinance that they may consider, I suggest a review of the information included in these pages, as well as that which is available on the Storefront Safety Council website. In addition, there is additional information available for review in Standardization News, the magazine for ASTM International. ASTM is in the process of finalizing a test standard for low-speed (non-highway) barriers and bollards which would be suitable for applications such as day care centers, medical clinics, senior centers, and other exposed facilities. For information on the Low Speed Vehicle Barrier standard see the ASTM article HERE.
I first advocated for the creation of this standard seven years ago; it was very apparent that the standards and engineering that were applied to anti-terrorist barriers and highway safety barriers were not appropriate for applications in front of strorefronts, restaurants, and child care centers. As our research continued and we began to get a better handle on how frequent these crashes are and the extent of the monetary damages, injuries, and fatalities that resulted from them, others in the industry stepped up to take this problem on. To their credit, ASTM agreed that this was a suitable area of study and an area in need of regulation. As the Orlando Sentinel report shows, there is not at this time a national standard for either the types of barriers to be deployed, or the types of places where they should be required. This proposed standard goes a long way to making a national standard practical.
Here is an excerpt from the introduction for the proposed standard:
"A majority of applications for barriers is to protect people or property from accidental or intentional vehicle incursions. One example is protecting pedestrians or students from vehicles on adjacent surface streets. Another example is protecting store fronts or mall entrances from vehicles which might approach at high speed due to operator pedal error. Anti-ram and security applications also need to be addressed, for those times when vehicles are employed as a means to gain illegal access. Currently no testing standards exist, and consequently, specifiers do not know what type of products to deploy and how to qualify either a product or a manufacturer. As a result, the public is left undefended in too many instances." Full text can be found HERE.
The science of vehicle barriers is well known, and the engineering is not difficult. There is no need to spend fortunes and there is no need to turn the front of buildings into fortresses. Preventing vehicle incursions is something that is done efficiently, effectively and affordably every day in retail areas, school campuses, pedestrian areas, and commercial and municipal buildings.
I applaud the efforts in Orange County to find best practices, and after a determination, to enact an ordinance that requires such safety measures in front of at-risk facilities. I would just remind everyone that storefront crashes like the one at KinderCare happen 50 to 60 times EVERY DAY. Please do your research, make your determinations, and get your ordinance in place. Kids, teachers, and parents are at risk every day until you do.
And it doesn't have to be that way.