Storefront Accidents and Their Causes
The Storefront Safety Council, a group of experts in perimeter security and parking, reports that vehicles crash into restaurants, stores, and other types of businesses as many as 60 times per day in the United States. More than 4,000 customers, pedestrians and employees are injured, and tragically, as many as 500 or more are killed. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the yearly costs of these accidents reaches into the hundreds of millions, as there is an average of 20,000 each year, costing approximately $9,100 per accident. Most of these accidents – 46 percent – occur when the driver mistakes the accelerator for the brake.
Storefront crashes typically involve teen drivers, older drivers, medically impaired drivers, inexperienced drivers, distracted and/or drunk drivers. An increase in the elderly population along with the rise of cell phone use among every age group has also led to more storefront crashes.
The Risk Management Society (RIMS) reported that many of these crashes occur as a result of driver error. However, parking lot designs also lead to a number of these accidents. Several businesses are designed facing the street or parking lot, in order to create maximum visibility. Unfortunately, this design creates certain safety hazards. Despite simple solutions, the problem persists either because of a lack of awareness or an unwillingness to correct the issue.
RIMS provides the following examples of accidents that occurred in an 8-week period in 2014:
According to the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, the layout of the parking lot and driver demographics are the biggest factors influencing storefront crashes. Specifically, positioning parking spaces perpendicular to the restaurant (i.e. nose-in) leaves vehicles facing the building and their customers. Though a popular parking lot design, these nose-in configurations increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and other damages.
These statistics have not gone unnoticed: large chain stores, retailers, and developers have begun taking measures to reduce these crashes and their consequences. According to the National Parking Association, the two most common solutions include:
Storefront crashes have drawn attention at all levels. In Florida, Miami-Dade County amended its zoning code, requiring the placement of “anti-ram fixtures” in all shopping centers. In November 2014, the global standards organization, ASTM International, approved a test standard for Low Speed Barriers for Errant Vehicles which sets regulations for bollards, barriers, and other devices most often seen protecting storefronts and pedestrians. It is estimated that the ASTM standards will help save hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in property damage each year.
Storefront crashes can and should be prevented. A customer’s safety should be the number one concern of every business. If you’ve been injured in a storefront crash that could have been avoided, call the attorneys at Brad Cooper & Associates, LLC to take action.