A woman walking into a Cumberland Farms convenience store for her morning coffee was killed when she was hit by an out of control vehicle that smashed through a Massachusetts storefront. While a freak accident, these types of incidents happen frequently and have been increasing in recent years. These accidents are often underreported because they occur on corporate property and are generally resolved through out-of-court settlements that include strict confidentiality agreements.
Cumberland Farms, one of the nation’s largest privately held businesses with more than 500 stores, had 485 storefront accidents from 2000-2009, according to news articles. The incidents do not stop there; Seven-11 previously stated that more than 1,500 of these incidents had occurred in a seven-year period at its stores. Other retail chains have had similar incidents. In August of this year, 10 people were hurt and a five year old seriously injured when an SUV slammed through the front of a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant in Los Angeles. In November in Kansas City, another eight people were injured when a car plowed through the front of a Starbucks store.
There are no complete records of these accidents and no federal agency that keeps tabs on them, but a report by FairWarning.org found that from April 2013-April 2014 at least 16 customer or bystander deaths occurred in accidental storefront crashes and at least 587 people were injured, 121 of those suffering serious injuries.
The prevalence of these incidents is a threat to public safety and can be minimized with the installation of low-to-moderate-cost safety features called bollards. Bollards are steel posts that are filled with concrete and installed in a walkway leading to storefronts to act as a barrier.