In July of 2011 a Lincoln Town Car driven by an "elderly driver" drove through one of two front entrances to a Safeway store in Green Valley Arizona. It is reported that as she pulled into a handicapped parking space, her foot slipped off the brake and onto the gas pedal, and the car surged forward and went through the glass doors and struck a customer more than 40 feet inside the door. The customer was severely injured, and later died from his injuries.
In April of 2012, a 76 year-old driver drove down a drive aisle in the parking lot of a Publix grocery store in Palm Coast Florida. Surveillance video later showed that she never slowed down -- she drove down the drive aisle, up the zero curb ramp, and right in the front door, where she struck a group of customers waiting at a bench, including a mother with her infant in a stroller. The car slammed more than 100 feet through the store until finally coming to a stop. No one was killed, but many were injured. See the staggering video HERE
Last year in 2013, Trader Joe's suffered two high profile accidents. In November at a store in Westwood New Jersey, an employee stacking shopping carts in front of the store was struck from behind when a driver caused her car to surge over the curb. The employee was severely injured and had one leg severed and the other crushed by the car when it pinned her against the store wall and windows. Just three weeks later at a Trader Joe's in Oceanside New Jersey, a driver "about 80 years old" according to emergency workers, drove straight toward the store, jumped the curb, and crashed through the windows, striking employees and customers. 11 people were taken to hospitals, including employees working at the cashier stations where the vehicle struck.
And now in 2014, as many as 26 people have been injured when an 88 year-old driver apparently lost control of her full sized Ford F-150 pickup and drove through the front door of a Food 4 Less supermarket in Las Vegas Nevada. At least 11 people have been hospitalized. It is too early to have a cause determined, but the elderly driver crashed through the front doors and proceeded to drive down a frozen food aisle of the store 240 FEET before finally coming to a stop, after hitting workers, shoppers, and children. See an initial press report HERE.
My own research shows that grocery stores (not including convenience stores, which are a different risk group) are struck by vehicles more than once per day. And while most are not high profile accidents like these that involve 10 or 25 injuries, the fact is that many do. Every day. Vehicle incursion accidents at grocery stores and supermarkets -- where a driver for any number of reasons leaves the parking lot and accelerates into a store -- are not "very rare" or "impossible to foresee" or "impossible to stop" or even "acts of God." These incidents are increasingly common, their causes are well documented, and the means of their prevention are well known.
The grocery industry -- this includes the stores themselves, the developers who build their buildings for them, the property managers at the centers where they are located, and the architects and consultants who design them -- are now collectively on notice that failure to design safer parking lots, failure to install tested safety barriers, and paying lip service to employee and customer safety while turning a blind eye to the elephant in the parking lot will no longer be an effective defense. Not from shareholders, not from unions, not from customers, and not from plaintiff lawyers.