Premises liability is a very real concern among business owners in a day and age in which people are willing to sue over just about anything. Regardless, everyone who steps foot on your business property has a reasonable expectation of protection under the law. If you don’t take steps to ensure their safety, you could find yourself on the wrong end of a premises liability lawsuit.
There are lots of different premises liability issues to be concerned about. This particular post focuses on controlling vehicle traffic. Any commercial property with a steady stream of vehicle traffic presents a certain amount of risk to visitors. Reducing liability is a matter of reducing that.
Property owners can take comfort in the fact that the law does not require them to 100% guarantee there will never be an accident on their premises. All it requires is that they take reasonable steps to identify potential hazards and protect against them.
Installing Speed Bumps
A good place to start this discussion is talking about speed bumps. A speed bump is a physical barrier attached to the road surface to slow down vehicles. Throughout the UK, speed bumps are found on industrial properties, at shopping centres, at office complexes, and so on. They are remarkably effective at controlling speed.
Speed bumps are rated according to their ability to reduce speeds. One rated at 10 mph is large enough to be able to slow vehicles to that speed under normal conditions. Incidentally, a 10-mph speed bump is ideal for car parks and construction sites. Property owners desiring even slower speeds can install bumps rated at 5 mph.
Reducing speeds reduces the likelihood of a car driver striking a pedestrian or colliding with another car. Without any speed reducing strategies in place, you could be held liable if a driver causes an accident that is any way related to speed.
Curbing and Posts
Sometimes speed is not the only issue in a commercial setting. There are times when traffic has to be controlled by creating set lanes that separate vehicles moving in different directions and vehicles and pedestrians. High-performance curbing can be used to establish lanes in areas where built-in curbing is not available.
Posts can be built into curbing or be used as standalone devices to create temporary lanes. The benefit of standalone posts is that they are more easily configurable. Lanes can be established and removed on an as-needed basis; lanes can also be modified during use to account for changing traffic.
The key to curbing and posts is their visibility. This is why you will often see them in bright yellow or orange. The best posts have reflective material attached to them as well. This way they are more visible at night.
Establishing set lanes through the use of curbing and posts allows a property owner to precisely control where cars and trucks go. If there are areas especially sensitive to pedestrian traffic, establishing lanes to keep cars away from pedestrians instantly reduces the risk of accidents.
Signage is another useful tool for controlling traffic on commercial properties. Though signage does not carry the same weight of authority on private property as it does public streets, it still sends a psychological message that gets the point across.
Stop signs installed at pedestrian crossings increase the chances that car drivers will actually give pedestrians the right-of-way. Give Way signs can warn drivers of oncoming traffic or the need to merge. Other signage can be used to direct drivers to certain locations so that they aren’t left to make split decisions as they navigate a car park or commercial roadway.
Don’t forget disabled parking signs either. The Equality Act 2010 requires commercial property owners providing parking space to visitors to include a commensurate number of disabled spaces. Those spaces must be clearly marked by signage. You could be held liable in a lawsuit alleging that an insufficient number of disabled parking spaces lead to some sort of harm to one of your guests.
Protecting Buildings with Bollards
In this day and age of heightened terrorist threats, it is a good idea to protect the front of your commercial building with bollards. A bollard is generally a post measuring up to 4 feet high and designed to resist the impact of a vehicle collision. Bollards can be of solid or hollow core. They can also be rigid or flexible.
Your choice of bollards depends on the type of traffic your property normally sees and the structure you are attempting to protect. Hollow core plastic bollards on a flexible stand are appropriate in some cases. In other cases, rigid bollards made of solid concrete or some sort of metal (or both) are the better choice.
As a business owner, you have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of your visitors and guests. This extends to controlling traffic on and off your property. In order to protect yourself against a premises liability lawsuit, please take every reasonable step to prevent vehicle and pedestrian accidents.
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