Last night at a Shell gas station in San Antonio a driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel when she was exiting from a freeway. Her car rolled through some road signs and into the gas station where it headed straight for one of the gas pumps.
Fortunately for all concerned, this station was equipped with steel bollards installed directly in front of the gas pumps. When the SUV struck the bollard, the front of the vehicle absorbed much of the impact energy (as cars are designed to do) and it is reported that the driver was not seriously injured. It is unclear whether or not the airbags deployed on the vehicle, and while it is always hard to guess speed of impact from such limited information, I am going to just guesstimate from the damage that the SUV was traveling 20 to 25 MPH at the time it impacted the bollard.
See the video HERE.
What is clear was that a 6 inch diameter steel bollard, though scratched and leaning from the impact, stopped the moving vehicle and prevented the SUV from crashing through the gas pump. At the very least, there would have been a big, messy Hazmat cleanup; more often, fire erupts when gasoline flows out until the pump is shut off. If the woman was unconscious and no one could reach her in time, the fire would have been fatal.
ASTM is completing work on a new test standard (WK13074) which takes on exactly this sort of threat scenario. With so many deaths and injuries from vehicle/pedestrian and vehicle/building interactions, more and more communities are calling for such bollards or barriers in certain parking lots near retail and commercial buildings and pedestrian areas. With no applicable performance standard to refer to, architects, engineers, or property owners have been having to choose products on their own, and therefore incurring liability in such instances. ASTM will provide local authorities and building and design professionals with a clear designation with which they can choose effective safety devices from a variety of manufacturers in a variety of materials and fabrications. See the ASTM website for more information HERE
As of this date the test standard will require that such safety bollards, barriers or other devices must be able to
withstand an impact of 30MPH from a test vehicle that weighs 5,000 LBS -- in short, exactly what happened at this Shell gas station in San Antonio. The fact that bollards were installed in front of these gas pumps may have saved a life; going forward, many more lives will be saved by installation of such safety devices in other vulnerable locations.