Texas A&M Transportation Institute Working To Reduce Crashes Into Businesses

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BRYAN, Texas Vehicles crashing into buildings is a growing problem in the United States with an estimated 20 crashes every day across the country.

And we've seen some recently in our area.

Now the Texas A&M Transportation Institute is working to make concrete poles known as bollards, safer.

It's a frightening scene and becoming a growing problem across the country.

Car crashes into stores or buildings like here in Navasota at the Hi Ho Store in July 2012.

This store employee Raj Kumar barely escaped with his life.

"She had told them she had mistaken the brake pedal for the accelerator and after they furthered their investigation into this accident, they determined alcohol played a role in this," said Chief Shawn Myatt of the Navasota Police Department, during an interview on August 1, 2012.

And another instance in Bryan in April 2012 when a driver accidentally accelerated into the side of the Casa Rodriguez Restaurant downtown.

"Just ordered our lunch, sat down had a drink and then next thing we knew we heard this loud boom crash," said a eyewitness at the restaurant on April 2, 2012.

Researchers with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute say 70 percent of these kinds of crashes involve convenience stores, restaurants or businesses.

"We're seeing a significant rise in not only accidental impacts. Meaning sometimes people put their foot on the gas when they think they're putting them on the brake and they hit these bollards or they run in through the store as well as smash and grabs," said Michael Brackin ,an Associate Transportation Researcher with the institute.

Brackin is working on setting new standards for how these barriers called bollards should be engineered.

"We have a history of installing bollards. We install the four inch bollards, that's the way it's always been and nobody has tested it and many times it hasn't been designed to withstand a vehicle impact," he added.

Now the work continues to make a new product that will prevent scenes like this in the future.

But businesses will also have to be more proactive installing them.

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute says car crashes into buildings cost upwards of $6.6 million a year nationwide.