In a previous paper, “Uses and Misuse of Wheel Stops at Parking Spaces in California” , we noted that wheel stops are physical barriers installed at parking spaces to deter potentially problematic vehicle movement. We emphasized that these devices do not serve as protective safeguards against moving vehicles – serious injuries and/or extensive property damage are common consequences of cars accidently being driven over standard wheel stops. Instead, the main purpose of a wheel stop simply is to serve as a physical signal to the driver that no additional forward movement is advised.
In general, there are two standard uses for wheel stops at parking facilities and lots:
i. To warn and deter drivers from damaging structural interactions (e.g., ‘car vs. building’, ‘car vs. car’, and ‘car vs. steel post’ encounters); and
ii. To deter improper vehicle encroachment into pedestrian paths of travel (e.g., at sidewalks).
However, wheel stops also constitute potential tripping hazards for pedestrians. Nationwide, many hundreds (if not thousands) of individuals annually suffer a wide range of trip and fall injuries from unexpected interaction with these projections. In our previous paper, we strongly recommended that owners, designers, and managers should:
• Recognize that the presence of wheel stops in parking facilities serves to increase risks of highly injurious pedestrian falls, particularly for elderly pedestrians, and undertake actions (e.g., proper painting, lighting, positioning, etc.) that reasonably serve to best moderate these risk factors;
• Implement a risk-benefits analysis for each wheel stop and, where appropriate, act to eliminate those wheel stops that are found to exhibit unduly high-risk/low-benefit characteristics; and
• Specifically, consider the use of structural bollards in lieu of wheel stops at areas of highly concentrated pedestrian-vehicular interactions.
Photo 1 – This bank in Southern California has installed yellow-painted bollards to better protect customers and employees at the main entry and at the ATM kiosk at left. (Concrete wheel stops remain at two parking spaces.)
Photo 2 – Similarly, in this parking lot serving a U.S. Post Office branch in Fullerton, CA, original wheel stops have been replaced with structural bollards to better protect customers and employees.
Photo 3 – At this shopping mall in Southern California, the concrete wheel stops deter vehicle encroachment into the required clear width (60 inches) of this wheelchair-accessible sidewalk.