September 8, 2018

10-Year Accident Anniversary: I Was Fortunate

When the 10-year anniversary of my accident rolled around last month, I celebrated with, among other things, a trip to the 7-Eleven where I was hit. It still has no bollards or other barriers out front, and thus it's still a dangerous spot, but I went inside anyway and bought a lottery ticket. Call it gallows humor, I guess.

Nope, I didn't snag the winning ticket, unfortunately, but no matter: I feel like just having been able to get through the experience a decade ago and recover normal functioning was like winning one of life's real lotteries. I remain grateful to all who made my recovery possible.

I was also fortunate to connect with safety expert Rob Reiter and serve as a co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council. Rob's little team has done a great job of tracking vehicle-into-building accident stats. You can find them here, but I'll briefly spotlight one in particular: incidents by cause (see chart).

It's quite an eye-opener to understand what factors lead a driver to go crashing into a building—and whomever might be standing in the way. Why? Because any of us could make these mistakes. It's tempting to point the finger at certain age groups or other demographics, but you don't have to be over 70 to get confused or distracted and mess up big-time.

That's why it's so risky going to 7-Eleven, or any location that uses unprotected front-in parking where vehicles pull in toward the building. Will that car pulling in stop—or not? It only takes an instant to get the answer—and for your life to change if the car hits you. I found that out the hard way 10 years ago.

May 23, 2017

Parking Professional Article Goes Live for IPI2017

California Assembly Member
Bill Quirk
Thanks to the International Parking Institute for publishing my 'Hitting the Gas' article in its May 2017 issue of The Parking Professional — and to California Assembly Member Bill Quirk for posting a link and a PDF of it on his website!

I republished via LinkedIn and Medium, as well, since the online version of IPI's magazine requires member login. Quirk figured large in the piece, thanks to his legislative leadership on behalf of storefront crash prevention in California. (He's on Twitter @AsmBillQuirk if you're interested in adding your kudos.)

It was all timed to hit during IPI's 2017 conference / expo in New Orleans this week. The intrepid Rob Reiter is there, splitting his time on the show floor between the booths of Calpipe Bollards and the Parking Design Group, while educating parking pros about vehicle-into-building crashes and pedestrian safety strategies.


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!