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Texas A&M Researchers Work To End Deadly Storefront Crashes

The accidents happen all the time: a driver mistakes the gas pedal for the brake and slams into a storefront, crushing those on the other side.

According to the Storefront Safety Council, storefront crashes kill nearly 500 people and injure more than 4,000 people nationwide every year.

Safety experts at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute say the tragedies are preventable.

NBC 5 visited the TTI campus to watch researchers test bollards – the posts and pillars you see outside gas pumps and storefronts.

According to TTI Associate Engineer Michael Brackin, bollards have never had a rigorous industry standard until now.

Together with leading safety experts, Brackin and the team at TTI developed tests to gauge the effectiveness of bollards.

"We saw an opportunity to create a test method that would actually protect people and not just give false security," Brackin said.

NBC 5 watched researchers drive a test vehicle 30 miles per hour directly into a bollard to determine if it would hold. It did, but researchers warn many of the posts you see currently in use may not be as effective.

Researchers said people need to remember that, when sitting or standing in front of a glass storefront or sitting on an unprotected patio next to a busy street.

TTI hopes the new industry standard will inspire businesses and government agencies to invest in proven bollards to protect property and lives.

"Bollards like this, knowing they are tested to this level will stop [tragedies] from happening," Brackin said.

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