June 18, 2019

The Road to Storefront Safety

Whether you are shopping at one of your favorite retailers or enjoying a delicious meal at a restaurant, the last thing you’d expect to see happen would be a car crashing into the front door. While this may seem far-fetched, it is a reality for thousands of facilities including retail stores, offices, restaurants, and other businesses.

According to the Storefront Safety Council, each year in the United States there is an average of 20,000 occurrences, (roughly 60 times per day), of this unexpected incident. Of these crashes, 24% involve retail stores, 23% occur in commercial buildings, and 19% of restaurants are impacted. Given these statistics, there’s a strong probability that a facility manager may be tasked with the reconstruction of their storefront at least once during their tenure.

Check Your Blind Spots

However, there are some preventative measures a facility manager can take to decrease the severity of damage from storefront crashes, such as installing any or all of the following:

  • Bollards, whether lighted, fixed, or automatic, which will help to divert traffic;
  • Storefront gates for after-hours protection; and
  • K4 – K12 crash barriers to stop vehicles traveling between 30 mph and 50 mph.

If your facility has experienced several incidences of storefront crashes and has been yellow tagged, meaning deemed moderately damaged with unsafe habitable conditions, you may want to reconsider the parking lot design. Drive aisles, which direct cars entering and exiting the parking lot, can be used to force a pre-designed pathway to the facility, facing away from storefronts.

Buckle Up

The leading cause for storefront crashes is operator or pedal error. This means that the driver steps on the gas rather than the brake. According to the Storefront Safety Council, over 40% of crashes are attributed to drivers under thirty-nine years of age, and the state of Florida ranks highest for storefront crashes caused by licensed drivers over sixty-five years of age.

Other causes may include:

  • Texting while driving,
  • Driving under the influence, and
  • Smash-and-grab (robberies).

Know Your Traffic Signals

If zoning or property management rules don’t allow for the preventative measures mentioned above, here are some tips on what to do if your facility is impacted by a storefront crash:

  1. Ensure safety for patrons and employees. Until you are able to arrive onsite and assess the damage, ensuring that everyone is safe must be the top priority. Store or restaurant managers should be trained to get everyone out of the building as quickly as possible.
  2. Implement incident response plan. This important guide should be in place and easily accessible to ensure that proper procedures are followed.
  3. Tap into your trusted vendors. Facility maintenance management companies have a wide network of trusted vendors. It is highly likely you will need several contacts to repair glass windows, doors, framing, carpentry, and electrical. It is important to select a management company who will secure the most qualified technician from the onset to avoid costly re-work.
  4. Board up for safety. Because the store may still be open for business, but be exposed, the technician will have to do board-ups to prevent the store from potentially being vandalized or receiving any further damage.
  5. Get the details. Secure a comprehensive report of the damage including photos from the technician(s) so that repairs or rebuilds can occur in a timely manner.

Ready To Drive

Accidents happen, but the repercussions can be devastating. It is the responsibility of the facility manager to ensure their customer’s safety. Fast response time, attention to detail, and timely and thorough communication with technicians are critical components for restoring your facility and getting back on the road to business as usual.

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