As states across the country slowly begin to reopen, it has led to a new wave of open-air seating at restaurants as they try to abide by social distancing guidelines. These setups commonly expand the seating area onto the sidewalk, bringing patrons closer than they have been previously to roadways. This is creating a new risk for restaurant-goers as there has been a rise in cars crashing into groups of people.
Outdoor Seating Accidents Increase
The Storefront Safety Council is a group that tracks statistics of vehicles crashing into groups of people or buildings. The group has counted approximately 20 crashes into outdoor seating setups for restaurants that have reopened after COVID-19 temporarily shut them down. Prior to the coronavirus shutdowns, there were only about four of these crashes a year. This dramatic increase in incidents provides a worrisome glimpse into what could continue as more restaurants expand outdoor seating arrangements and sidewalk extensions.
Additionally, these collisions can prove fatal. A high-speed chase from Cincinnati to Kentucky ended with the driver’s car jumping a curb and crashing into diners seated outside a Newport, KY restaurant. The crash resulted in two deaths and injured two others.
The proximity of diners to traffic is cause for concern according to Kevin Moore, an insurance risk-control consultant for Houchens Insurance Group. Barriers set up to mitigate this danger has the potential to save lives.
Some cities have taken precautions to protect those dining outside from these potential traffic accidents. Some have added cement dividers or water-filled barricades that would absorb the impact of an oncoming vehicle coming at a group of patrons.
What to Expect Moving Forward
As outdoor seating arrangements close to roadways increase, drivers will need to also increase their awareness and of their surroundings and proceed with caution. Cities and towns should put up barriers to protect their citizens from severe crashes, whether accidental or out of malice.
If you were dining at a restaurant and suffered catastrophic injuries due to a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Just as restaurants are taking measures to protect patrons from COVID-19, steps must be taken to protect them from the oncoming traffic. Contact the Law Offices of Marcus & Mack today to discuss whether you have a case.