The urban landscape is often characterized by the bustling activity of storefronts, where businesses and communities intersect. However, amidst the vibrant tapestry of commerce and human interaction, a disconcerting trend has emerged: the alarming rise of storefront crashes — or at the very least more accurate data concerning storefront crashes.
It’s important to understand the underlying causes and evaluate the consequences of vehicle-into-building collisions and explore solutions to safeguard businesses, communities, and public safety. “These incidents have been occurring for years,” notes Bryan Kelley, co-founder of Laser Facility Management, “but there’s been an increase in reported injuries and fatalities.”
In 2022, there were a reported 100+ storefront crashes a day, resulting in 16,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths. “Each of these crashes can cost businesses thousands of dollars or more,” Kelley adds, “but you have to take into consideration how often this is happening at your store.”
Causes of Storefront Crashes
The rise of storefront crashes can be attributed to a combination of factors that contribute to their frequency and severity. Understanding these causes is essential in developing effective preventive measures and mitigating the risks associated with such incidents.
According to the Storefront Safety Council, 21% of crashes are due to operator error and 39% of drivers are over the age of 60. The truth is the prevalence of smartphones and other handheld devices have significantly increased driver distractions, such as texting, browning social media, or using navigation apps. Engaging in conversations with passengers, eating, or teaching for objects within the vehicle also diverts a driver’s attention from the road.
Operator error also accounts for negligence. Speeding, failure to yield right-of-way, and running red lights or stop signs are forms of driver error and negligence that significantly contribute to the frequency of storefront crashes. Exceeding speed limits reduces a driver’s ability to react, while neglecting to yield or disregarding traffic signals increases the likelihood of collisions.
The second highest cause of storefront crashes is pedal error, as vehicle malfunctions can result in unintended collisions with storefronts. Brake failure, in particular, can lead to an inability to stop a vehicle, while issues with throttle control or steering systems can cause loss of control.
Identifying these causes emphasizes the importance of addressing driver behavior, promoting responsible driving practices, and ensuring proper vehicle maintenance. By tackling these factors, we can significantly reduce the occurrence of storefront crashes and protect the well-being of businesses, pedestrians, and drivers alike.
Preventative Measures and Mitigation Strategies
The best way to combat the rise of storefront crashes is to keep track of the data appropriately. Currently, there is an issue with how different organizations report incidents.
For example, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports “vehicle-into-building crashes only when they were deemed the most harmful events.” This means that if the vehicle crashed into another car, resulting in a fatality, before crashing into a building that resulted in non-fatal injuries, that incident would not be reported. The Storefront Safety Council attempts to collect all the vehicle collision reports to record every storefront collision and easily adds approximately 200 to 250 reports to its database every month.
Other than accurate record keeping, there are ways storefront owners can help prevent significant damage to their businesses. For instance, they can ask the property landowner or the county to install physical barriers a few feet away if it’s a high-risk area. Business owners can even request improved urban planning and street design from their local civil government body.
Promoting public awareness campaigns that educate drivers about the dangers of distracted driving, impaired driving, and the importance of following traffic rules and regulations can help shift attitudes and behaviors. These campaigns can emphasize the impact of storefront crashes on businesses, communities, and individuals, fostering a culture of responsible driving.
Encouraging partnerships between government agencies, businesses, and community organizations can foster a united front against storefront crashes. Collaborative efforts can include sharing best practices, implementing safety initiatives, and establishing communication channels to report and address safety concerns in a timely manner.
“The rise of storefront crashes is a major concern,” Kelley notes, “especially when we have the knowledge and technology to avoid this from happening.” The consequences of storefront crashes extend beyond physical damage to businesses and people involved — they inflict financial burdens, psychological stress, and disrupt the local economies.
The safety concerns for pedestrians and bystanders cannot be understated, necessitating a comprehensive approach to safeguarding public spaces. Prioritizing responsible driving, implementing effective measures, and fostering a culture of vigilance will help decrease the number of injuries and fatalities associated with storefront crashes.