July 25, 2016

California Passes Storefront Protection Law

California State Capitol
Source: assembly.ca.gov

AB2161, written and championed by California State Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-20), passed the Assembly and the Senate with no dissenting votes, and was signed into law July 22 by Governor Jerry Brown. The new law makes California the first state in the U.S. to encourage through statute the use of protective or safety barriers at vulnerable locations including parking lots, retail centers, office buildings and restaurants.

The law "provides that the use of certain vehicle barriers at a commercial property may be considered by insurers as safety devices that qualify for a discount on the owner's insurance premiums," explained Storefront Safety Council Co-Founder Rob Reiter. "Prior to adoption of the appropriate standards by the California Building Standards Commission, the new law defines an appropriate barrier as a device 'that is installed to protect persons located within, in, or on the property of, buildings, or to protect pedestrians, from collisions into those buildings by motor vehicles'."

Assemblyman Quirk
Assemblyman Quirk worked on the bill for two years, with support from Reiter and stakeholders, and with staff support from Legislative Assistant Miranda Flores in the 2016 term and from Dr. Scott Sellars, 2014-2015 Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the California State Legislature, during the 2015 term. The full text of the bill and the legislative counsel's digest is available online, and is reprinted below:

Assembly Bill No. 2161
CHAPTER 73

An act to add Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 11895) to Part 3 of Division 2 of the Insurance Code, relating to parking lots.

[Approved by Governor July 22, 2016. Filed with Secretary of State July 22, 2016.]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST
AB 2161, Quirk. Parking lots: design: insurance discount.
Existing law provides that building standards shall be filed by the California Building Standards Commission with the Secretary of State and codified only after they have been approved by the commission. Existing law regulates the issuance and renewal of liability insurance policies in this state.
This bill would authorize an insurer to consider the installation of vehicle barriers as a safety measure and would authorize an insurer to provide or offer a discount on the property owner’s insurance covering damage or loss to the covered commercial property or liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the commercial property relative to the reduced risk of installation of the barriers. The bill would require that any discounts be determined to be actuarially sound and approved by the Insurance Commissioner prior to their use.

DIGEST KEY
Vote: majority Appropriation: no Fiscal Committee: no Local Program: no

BILL TEXT
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

    SECTION 1. Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 11895) is added to Part 3 of Division 2 of the Insurance Code, to read:
    CHAPTER 6. Commercial Property Parking Lots: Vehicle Barrier Discount
    11895. (a) An insurer may consider the installation of vehicle barriers as a safety measure and may provide or offer a discount on the property owner’s insurance covering damage or loss to the covered commercial property or liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the commercial property relative to the reduced risk to the property as a result of installation of the barriers if the discount provided or offered is provided or offered consistent with Article 10 (commencing with Section 1861.01) of Chapter 9 of Part 2 of Division 1.
    (b) For the purposes of this section, a vehicle barrier is a safety device that meets, at a minimum, the vehicle impact protection standards as provided by the State Fire Marshal and adopted by the California Building Standards Commission and that is installed to protect persons located within, in, or on the property of, buildings, or to protect pedestrians, from collisions into those buildings by motor vehicles.
    (c) Any discounts on insurance provided in accordance with this section shall be determined to be actuarially sound and approved by the commissioner prior to their use.


July 22, 2016

Kalamazoo Crashes Hit the News

Walter Smith-Randolph, WWMT News
Walter Smith-Randolph, WWMT News
Walter Smith-Randolph at WWMT TV explained to viewers of last night's 6 p.m. news in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that barriers can keep cars from demolishing storefronts: http://wwmt.com/news/i-team/vehicles-crashing-into-storefronts-more-common-than-one-might-think.

Walter said he had found news archive reports on seven crashes in the area over the past two years, and featured Storefront Safety Council stats to add some national context to the Kalamazoo incidents.

He also interviewed the owner of a pizza restaurant that had been hit. She said she had decided to put up barriers as well.

Follow Walter on Twitter: @WalterReports.

(This post is co-published on the Storefront Safety Council blog.)

Storefront crash in Kalamazoo MI courtesy WWMT TV
Source: WWMT TV

July 8, 2016

Providence RI Crashes Get WJAR's Attention

WJAR's Katie Davis reports on storefront crashes
Multiple storefront crashes in the Providence, Rhode Island, area caught the eye of WJAR-TV reporter Katie Davis recently — and her resulting report was excellent.

Davis's piece (NBC 10 I-Team: Epidemic of storefront crashes uncovered) aired June 30 and focused on bollards as a sensible way to help prevent the damage to property and lives that these crashes cause.

An interesting Twitter conversation ensued with some viewers who felt the focus should be more on drivers' behavior. Davis (@NBC10_Katie) replied that driver behavior aside, bollards can help stop a car.

Davis explained that parking space wheel stops make the risk of a storefront crash even worse, by launching a vehicle up and forward — which so many property owners don't seem to understand.

Cumberland Farms
Cumberland Farms
She also highlighted the tragic 2010 crash at a Cumberland Farms convenience store in Chicopee, Massachusetts, that took the life of Kimmy Dubuque. Davis reported that Cumberland Farms has since installed bollards. The company settled the family's wrongful death suit earlier this year.


June 30, 2016

ABC7News Spotlights Crash Problem

ABC7News reporter Horace Holmes did a great job with his feature on storefront crashes in the Washington, D.C. area, which aired last night on WJLA TV: http://wjla.com/features/7-on-your-side/council-seeks-solutions-to-alarming-rise-of-vehicle-crashes-into-stripmall-storefronts.

We shot much of the report at a strip shopping center in Hyattsville, Maryland (near Landover), which has experienced numerous crashes over the last few years — so many that a couple of store owners spent money out of their own pockets to have some basic bollards installed in front of their shops when the property owner refused to provide any kind of barrier.

Holmes and I also demonstrated the added hazard posed by wheel stops in the center's front-in parking spaces.

Be sure to include @ABC7Horace and @ABC7News if you share their piece on social media. Thanks!



June 15, 2016

Maryland Shopping Center Crashes Draw Media Attention

WJLA reporter Horace Holmes (right), with his cameraman (left) and Mark Wright, working on storefront crash story.
WJLA reporter Horace Holmes (right), with his cameraman
(left) and Mark Wright, working on storefront crash story.
Multiple crashes at a shopping center in Landover, Maryland, caught the eye of WJLA TV reporter Horace Holmes, who decided to prepare a feature focusing on the storefront crash phenomenon. Holmes invited me to join him and his camera crew at the center yesterday to tape roving interviews with store owners and talk about common reasons for vehicle-into-building crashes.

Two of the proprietors have been hit so many times that they each had bollards installed in front of their own stores, at their own expense, after the landlord declined to do so. Other shop owners, who don't yet have barriers, admitted they get very nervous while watching vehicles pull in to park. All the shops have front-in parking spaces perpendicular to their glass doors and display windows. Even patrons we spoke with knew about the frequent crashes.

Some of WJLA's interview footage will be shared with its sister station, WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, for a story WJAR investigative reporter Katie Davis is preparing on a rash of crashes in her area. (I see they just had another one this evening — car-into-house!)

I'll post an update when each station airs its respective pieces. Stay tuned...

May 16, 2016

Thanks, Reliance Foundry!

Raising awareness about the human side of storefront crashes is as important as talking about technical and policy issues. So, kudos to British Columbia, Canada-based Reliance Foundry for helping on that front with its recent blog post (Hit By a Car: Surviving a Storefront Crash) — featuring my own story.

Being a poster boy makes me squirm in my chair a little, but...it was a great opportunity to help push the cause forward. Thanks to Jeremy Bradley and Bryce Tarling from Reliance Foundry's communications team for inviting me to share my 2008 accident experience, and for their patient professionalism during the interviews.