Back in 2014, the Royal Automobile Association (RAA) reported a significant increase in the number of car park accidents in Australia. Around 53 percent of all stationary damage to vehicles happened within car park areas. Reversing – the riskiest car park manoeuvre – accounted for 32 percent of car park accidents.
The average cost of a car park insurance claim is $1200, not including minor dents and scratches that accumulate over time. Car owners can – and should – be picky when choosing where they park their vehicle. Many will stay away from a car park that is poorly lit and lacking in safety barriers.
Car park managers are responsible for the safety of customers who park in their facilities. With high levels of vehicle and pedestrian activity, car parks are hazardous environments that should be managed with extreme care.
Shopping centre car parks are the most notorious when it comes to crowd density. They are packed with people and cars that are always moving in a tight, narrow, and always busy area. The high volume of vehicles combined with a high concentration of unsuspecting pedestrians is a recipe for trouble and accidents.
The issue of car park safety in Australia came to light when a man died after accidently reversing through a safety barrier in a hotel car park in Sydney. Both the hotel and the city council were found guilty of negligence as the perimeter railings did not comply with Australian Standard AS1170.1 and the concrete wheel stops were not properly installed.
At John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, a driver was injured in a similar incident. To prevent a repeat of the accident, the hospital replaced its old perimeter edging with a safety barrier that exceeded current Australian Standards.
Both accidents highlighted the need for car parks to regularly audit their facilities to ensure compliance with Australian safety standards.
Keeping up with world-class car park safety standards
When designing any car park structure engineers must ensure that all perimeter edging is able to withstand vehicle impact. According to current Australian Standards, a vehicle barrier should withstand a 30 kN measure of force – equivalent to 1,500 kg – that is travelling at eight kilometres per hour. That may be enough to stop a slow-moving mid-sized sedan but not a head-on collision involving today’s modern family four wheel drives.
While speed limits are generally observed in a parking facility, cars are not always moving at a slow pace. SUVs and utility vehicles are also about four times heavier than that average sedan. Consider the following scenarios:
- A driver accidently hits the accelerator instead of the brake
- A driver puts the car into reverse instead of drive
- A parked car is pushed by a moving vehicle
In all three situations, existing load bearing specifications for car park steel barriers and guard rails would not be able withstand vehicle impact.
After a number of high profile accidents involving cars that drove over the edge of multi-storey facilities, road safety advocates are pushing for an upgrade of the current Australian Standards to keep in line with UK standards.
The British Standard BS6399 is one of the most rigorous car park safety standards in the world. In 2002 it was updated to ensure barriers would be able to withstand impact from heavier vehicles. BS6399 now states that safety barriers must hold up against horizontal impact loads of 150 kN for 1,500 Kg vehicles travelling at 4.5 m/s or 20 k/h. That is five times the 30 k/N limit outlined in AS/NZS1170.1.
Types of car park safety barriers
Car park safety barriers are either floor mounted or column mounted. Each style is designed to stop vehicles from crashing through the car park perimeter. There are flexible and rigid barriers. Flexible systems are designed to deflect impact and absorb minor knocks without damage to the barrier or the vehicle. On the other hand, rigid barriers will stop vehicles on impact and could result in worse damage.
Floor mounted systems are fitted areas other than the car park perimeter. They are installed were columns are not present. Floor mounted barriers are suitable for ramps, split levels, walkways, car park approaches, and entrances. If you want minimal structural upgrade, these are the best choice for refurbishing a perimeter. Spring steel systems are the industry standard – they are flexible and able to withstand high impact by buffering instead of transmitting the force to mounting bolts.
Column mounted systems are ideal for car parks that require more space. They have little to no footprint in the parking bay and are mounted directly onto existing structural columns. Engineers must take into account the weight of the barrier system and the amount of force transferred from the barrier to the column during vehicle impact.
Building a modern car park that exceeds current standards
Without updates to the current Australian Standards coming anytime soon, car park designers and managers should take the lead in improving the safety of these facilities.
Choosing a safety barrier system that exceeds current standards is a must when building multi-storey car park structures. Parking barriers that are built to the specifications of modern vehicles can help reduce the risk of serious accidents and provide maximum protection for the car park itself.
For existing structures, a car park safety and compliance audit can help identify whether upgrades are needed. You might need to replace worn out barriers, put up new signs, repaint line markings, or repair concrete structures.
Tips for car park managers
- Assess the entire car park facility and identify areas of risk. Adequate lighting and ventilation and visible line marks are a must.
- Check for signs of wear or rust in existing barriers, making sure they are still in good condition. Upgrade end ramp barriers if needed.
- Identify potential blind spots in entrances and exits, as well as corners.
- Check the guardrails along staircases and walkways between levels to ensure the safety of pedestrians. Install anti-climbing barriers if needed.
- Review maintenance procedures. Retrain staff on Australian Standard AS1170.1 compliance requirements.
Why install car park barriers
Here are some of the reasons why you should install safety barriers in car parks and car park towers:
- Prevent cars from going over the edge in upper level parking
- Control vehicle speeds inside car park buildings
- Keep pedestrians separate from vehicles
- Prevent unauthorised access to car parks especially at night
- Eliminate risky behaviour such as climbing fences
- Protect trees and landscaping
- Protect vulnerable structures such as junction boxes, substations, and lighting and cooling systems
Australian law on car park safety barriers
If your car park facility does not comply with Australian Standards 2890.1-2004 and AS 1170.1, it may lead to hefty fines, litigation, and a ruined reputation in the event of fatal injury.
According to Australian Standards, car park safety barriers and fencing are required to be installed in the following areas:
- Drops of 600mm or higher that are adjacent to moving or stationary cars
- Heights of one metre or more above the ground where pedestrians are exposed
- Heights of four metres or more require anti-climb barrier installation
Superior safety barriers for car parks
Whether you are looking for rigid barrier systems that redirect impact back into the vehicle or flexible steel spring barriers that absorb impact for minimal vehicle damage, Verge Safety Barriers can provide you with the right solution.
· Crash rail and anti-climb mesh system
Protect your car park clients by installing shock-absorbing crash rails integrated with pedestrian anti-climb. These barriers are designed for ramps, perimeters and open edges. They safeguard drivers, pedestrians, vehicles, and the car park structure from injury and damage.
Our flexible car park barriers are certified to EN1991, BS6399, and BS6180/DETR standards. Built to absorb and distribute impact, they are made of materials that are scratchproof, non-corrosive, water-resistant, and UV stabilised. This means you only have to spend a minimum amount of time and money on maintenance.
Mesh fencing is added to stop pedestrians from climbing over the barrier. Because the aperture size is too small to fit a hand or foot, the fence is almost impossible to climb. It is also extremely difficult to cut with normal cutting tools. Extra strong welding exceeds AS2423-2002 requirements for maximum strength and resistance. The material is coated with zinc aluminium to AS/NZS4534 standards for longevity of the entire fencing system.
· Spring steel crash barriers
These crash barriers are constructed from high-grade spring steel and heat-treated for strength and flexibility. The posts are able to reduce the pull-out force on the anchor bolts – reducing risk of damage to the barrier, vehicle, and car park floor.
Designed to meet or exceed the loading requirements described in AS/NZS 1170.1, our spring steel crash barriers are also available with anti-climb mesh or handrail extensions.
· Wheel stops
Wheel stops are designed for areas where it is necessary to limit the speed of a vehicle that is moving into a parking space. Wheel stops are commonly installed to protect pedestrians who could be in danger from a parking vehicle or to stop a car from coming into contact with a wall, barrier or kerb. Wheel stops are able to prevent vehicles from encroaching over a walkway, embankment, drop off, or ditch.
Wheel stops are often made of rubber, concrete or plastic. According to the Australian Standard AS2890.1:2004, wheel stops must measure 90mm and 100mm in height, and 1650 +/- 50mm in width.
Our wheel stops are constructed out of recycled tyres. They are painted yellow and black for maximum visibility. Lightweight and economical, our wheel stops are available in 1650mm lengths.
· Speed humps
The purpose of installing speed humps in a car park is to force vehicles to slow down to a safer speed. When cars are travelling at a reduced speed, they are able to stop more quickly within a shorter distance – protecting pedestrians from injury or death.
Speed humps come in various styles that are tailored to meet different requirements. Fixed area speed humps can easily exceed more than 20 tonne of pressure. When installed correctly, speed humps can last quite a long time.
Where to install speed humps
- Place a speed hump approximately 1-2 metres from a danger point such as pedestrian crossings, security gate, toll gate, boom gate, and cross over
- Space speed humps 10-20 metres apart on a long driveway to prevent vehicle build-up
- Allow 3 metres of space between a speed hump and the edge of the road to prevent undue pressure on the fasteners from a turning wheel
- If the speed hump is adjacent to a curbed shoulder, leave a small gap for drainage between the speed hump and the curb
- If the edge of the road provides access to pedestrians, bicycles and wheelchairs, leave a space at the end of the speed hump
- Minimise the gap at the end of the speed hump to prevent vehicles from swerving around it
Our speed humps are made from durable rubber and are available in various widths and heights. They are painted yellow and black with moulded delineation for improved visibility at night.
Manufactured from durable rubber, our corner guards provide effective protection for columns and walls. They reduce risk of damage to the vehicle and car structure from collisions. Each corner guard is coated with yellow reflective tape for improved visibility.
A bollard is a short vertical post that is designed to control or direct traffic. They are often installed in a line to stop the entry of motor vehicles while allowing pedestrian or bicycle access. By separating vehicles from pedestrians, bollards are able to protect high-cost structures or objects from possible damage by oncoming vehicles. Bollards vary in height and diameter – depending on the amount of security required.
Our complete line of car park bollards includes:
- Parking bollards
- Removable bollards
- Stainless steel bollards
- Automatic bollards
- Concrete bollards
- Fold-down bollards
Our bollards exceed standard requirements for density – 5mm wall thickness instead of 3mm. They are hot dipped galvanised before powder coating and come in highly visible fluorescent yellow. Each bollard has a pedestrian-friendly round base plate that is available in standard 90mm diameter or heavy duty 140mm diameter.
We also provide customisation services so you can order bollards in your preferred size, colour, concrete design, dome top, chain ring, storage sleeve, or reflective material.
Boom barriers and spikes
If your car park features unmanned vehicle access control, then boom barriers and spikes are a necessary safety and security solution. Automatic boom barriers easily integrate with access control and fare collection in car park entry points with medium to high traffic flow.
Our barrier lift system is easy to assemble. Certified to DOS K12 and PAS 68, it can stop cars and trucks effectively even at high speed. Our boom barriers can be installed as an individual unit or in combination with other safety features such as tyre killers, crash gates or bollards.
Choose Verge Safety Barriers to improve your car park safety
Some accidents are unavoidable but it is possible to minimise damage from these incidents with the right safety solutions. Protect your clients by making sure your car park building is equipped with all the necessary features to prevent injury and harm.
Verge Safety Barriers can help improve the safety level of your car parks. We provide the latest and most up-to-date technology in car park organisation and security. Contact Verge today and we’ll discuss that systems will work best for you.