Frequent storefront crashes spark proposal to make parking lots safer

Approximately 60 times a day across the country, a car goes careening through a glass storefront. Each year, about 500 people are killed and 4,000 are injured in these types of crashes.

There have been crashes all over New England, including one in a convenience store in Allenstown, New Hampshire, last month. "All I know is I am on the ground and I look and there's glass flying everywhere," said one of the women who was inside as the car plowed through the front of the store.
Similar crashes have happened at a Brockton gas station and a Marshfield massage parlor.

"The solution is really just to put a fairly low-cost structural divider between areas where cars are right next to areas with people," explained State Representative Carolyn Dykema, a Democrat from Holliston.

Dykema is sponsoring a bill to get bollards -- pillars that stand about four feet in height -- installed in front of more commercial buildings in Massachusetts. "We recognize that it would be very difficult for a number of reasons to retrofit existing buildings, so the bill is directed towards new construction or significant renovations over a million dollars."

The McCue Corp of Peabody has developed a new type of bollard that more easily creates a safe barrier. It can be installed in a shorter period of time, usually overnight, causing less disruption to the business, and can stop most vehicles traveling 20 mph.

They were recently installed in front of Kappy's Liquors in Malden for just under $30,000.

David DiAntonio, McCue's president, thinks it's a good investment for a retailer: "If someone gets injured or killed, you can't even compare the small cost of this to litigation." Storefront crashes are only going to get worse, DiAntonio believes, because drivers today are so distracted -- looking at their phone or rushing to get into the store.

Retail groups and developers, however, have concerns with a state-wide law mandating bollards.

The Commercial Real Estate Development Association, based in Needham, told Boston 25 News in a statement that ". . . while bollards are becoming much more common in situations where there may be a real risk, there are aspects of this bill that need further review. It's unclear how some portions of this bill would be implemented, while also ensuring fire safety and ADA accessibility."

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts expressed fears about the costs of bollards and that this bill would put brick and mortar stores at a competitive disadvantage compared to online retailers.

Brian Moore of Kappy's Liquors has seen about half-dozen crashes at his stores over the years. He's happy he can do something about it.  "It would be very hard to live with ourselves if one of our employees or customers ever got injured when we have the ability to do something like this."