HOUSTON – They are happening every day.
Horrifying car crashes, not out on the highway, but inside stores and restaurants, as cars smash their way into buildings.
According to the Storefront Safety Council, it happens 60 times a day in this country, killing 500 people a year, injuring more than 4,000.
People like Miguel Cedillo, a husband and father from McAllen who was horribly injured on Dec. 17, 2014 while simply sitting in a restaurant and eating dinner with his family.
Suddenly a car came crashing through the glass window where he was sitting.
According to Cedillo, he was pinned and his leg was completely crushed by the impact of that car.
“I said it’s going to hit us, it looks like it’s going to hit us.” Cedillo said.
The damage to Cedillo’s leg was so severe doctors could not save it and he had to have his left leg amputated.
“Life will never be the same,” Cedillo said.
Now, to keep accidents like that from happening, engineers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute are developing and testing newer, stronger storefront barriers, called bollards, to protect people everywhere.
You see the old-fashioned bollards, the typical bollards you see all over the country are basically just a steel pipe that contractors put in the ground and fill with concrete.
For years, these bollards were never tested for strength or for effectiveness by anyone”, Michael Brackin of Texas A&M said.
When scientists and engineers put those types of bollards or barriers to the test, running test cars into them at just 10 miles an hour, those barriers were knocked down like bowling pins.
For the last several years, Brackin has been working alongside engineers at a company called TrafficGuard, that manufactures protective bollards, to design much stronger, impact resistant barriers.
To prove the protective power of these new, state of the art bollards, Brackin and his team at Texas A&M tested these new bollards by running a 5,000 pound test vehicle into the barriers at 10 miles an hour.
The barriers worked, stopping the test vehicle in its tracks.
So the engineers upped the stakes and ran the same test at 30 miles an hour.
Once again the bollards stood their ground, flexing a bit on impact and bending back about 12 inches or so, but staying firmly in the ground and stopping the moving test vehicle dead.
“It’s great to see this bogey (test vehicle) rolling down the runway after all the work we have put into it and watch it hit a bollard that we have designed and manufactured ... and to see it all work”, Brackin said.
As Mike Schram of TrafficGuard puts it, “We are really focused on building a safer environment for everyone. So people are protected from an errant driver, a distracted driver that happens every day.”
TrafficGuard is manufacturing these new protective bollards using different types of carbon steel and stainless steel.
It's a new protective barrier that could be coming to a store or restaurant near you.