VERIZON -- HOW MANY MORE CRASHES WILL IT TAKE BEFORE YOU START PROTECTING YOUR CUSTOMERS AND YOUR EMPLOYEES?
93 year-old Thomas Ochalek was sitting at a Verizon store in Port St. Lucie Florida buying a phone. Suddenly, an 82 year-old woman drives her car directly into the store, smashing through the glass storefront and into the desk area where Mr. Ochalek was sitting. See the video and hear great coverage from CBS12 HERE
UPDATE -- One week after this accident, it has just been reported that the victim has died in the hospital as a result of his injuries. Our condolences to Mr. Ochalek's family.
Now we all know that the 2.5 million drivers in Florida contribute to one of the highest rates of pedal error crashes and storefront crashes in the nation (see yesterdays article from the Miami Herald and re-run in Insurance News entitled "A crash course: Why do so many cars smash into buildings?" Read it HERE) But we also know that cellular stores tend to be in small strip malls with glass fronts. The Storefront Safety Council has records of over 100 storefront crashes involving cellular stores, and Verizon takes its fair share.....so if there have been so many documented crashes at what point do large corporations start to take action to protect their employees and customers?
Two jurisdictions in Florida are taking or have taken action to require safety barriers or bollards in front of vulnerable locations. Miami Dade and Orange Counties are very active in passing ordinances. Other jurisdictions in other parts of the United States are taking action, with New York and California following Florida closely. When ordinances are passed and ASTM tested bollards or barriers are required when a known hazardous condition is present and an accident is foreseeable, 93 year-olds will be safe inside Verizon stores. But as of right now -- keep one eye on the salesman and your wallet, and one eye peeled for a car coming straight at you from the parking lot.
Verizon and the cellular phone industry -- you are ON NOTICE that a recurring safety problem is present and that your employees and customers are at risk from storefront crashes. Public awareness and some aggressive personal injury claims MAY get industry attention -- but how many more will have to suffer in the interim?