In December, the driver of a pickup truck was allegedly speeding and distracted when he smashed his truck into the front of a Greensboro bakery. Incredibly, none of the staff or customers inside were hurt, but the driver did cause about $70,000 worth of damage.
Then last month in Wilmington, a 25-year-old driver involved in a domestic dispute was shot in the face by a 36-year-old man in a grocery store parking lot. The younger driver then crashed his vehicle into a Sam’s Food Mart. Also last month, four people were injured when a vehicle slammed into the front of a Quick Mart convenience store in Wilmington.
These incidents are reported on by the media as if they are somewhat rare. In truth, they happen a lot. In fact, the Storefront Safety Council reports such incidents occur 60 times daily in the U.S., injuring more than 4,000 people a year and killing more than 500. What’s especially troubling about this is there are no state or national standards that require bollards in front of stores, though some municipalities do have their own ordinances. Only recently, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) set a new standard for identifying and labeling specially-tested, high-quality bollards and barriers.
One research engineer at Texas A&M Traffic Institute, which has been conducted crash tests for bollard manufacturers, said, “People put a pipe out and think that will stop a car. Most of the ones I see out there wouldn’t work.”
A new standard for bollards has been in the works since 2008. The new standard requires bollards to be able to withstand and stop a vehicle the size of a pickup truck traveling 30 mph. Most of the vehicles in these crashes are going to be traveling at lower speeds because they usually involve drivers entering via a parking lot, where they are not as likely to gain significant speed. Still, that’s not always the case and bollards and barriers made to even higher standards certainly have the potential to save lives.
Texas A&M researchers said some of the top reasons these car accidents occur is because:
- Driver inattention
- Driver impairment
- Pedal use error
Teens and elderly drivers are especially prone to this kind of crash, but they can affect everyone. Innocent mothers with children in carts walking in or out of a grocery store, a group of friends eating at a local diner or a police officer stopping into a convenience store for a mid-shift cup of coffee – these are all potential victims in these cases. One of the worst parts about it is none of these people is expecting a vehicle to approach them in these scenarios, so they aren’t watching or prepared to run the way they would be if they were crossing the street. In the best of scenarios, the only damage done is to property. But far too often, people suffer serious, life-threatening or disabling injuries.
In these situations, our injury lawyers would encourage those affected to contact an experienced attorney. Even if the driver was not insured, there may be options for recovery of damages. Those include your own uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage (which believe it or not does apply even if you are not anywhere near your own vehicle), as well as a premises liability lawsuit against the owner of the property for failure to erect bollards or barriers or now, with ASTM’s new rules, failure to install features that were up to industry standards.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Will storefront crash barriers protect you? Feb. 2, 2016, By Garrett Brnger, KSAT ABC-12
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