Vehicle Alert

Today, the most dangerous weapons on campuses just might be vehicles

On Nov. 28, 2016, a terrorist vehicle ramming and stabbing attack occurred at Ohio State University and resulted in 13 people hospitalized for injuries. Approximately a year later, on Oct. 31, 2017, a terrorist drove a Home Depot rental pickup truck at least 10 blocks down the popular Hudson River Greenway bike path from West Houston to Chambers streets, hitting nearly a dozen pedestrians and bicyclists before crashing into a school bus near Stuyvesant High School and elementary school P.S. 89, just a few blocks north of the World Trade Center.

It’s no secret that terrorist groups have called on followers to use trucks, in particular, to attack crowds. Campuses across the nation are responding.

VEHICLES ATTACKS OCCUR AT TWO ACCESS POINTS

Temporary access points are especially prone to attack. On a college campus, traffic may need rerouting for football game weekends and commencement ceremonies or a hospital might be having an open house. In either case, sections normally open to traffic will be closed to create pedestrian paths and gathering points. However, these areas still have a need for delivery trucks and certain other authorized vehicles to enter. These locations are best protected with crash-rated portable barriers that erect in 15 minutes and are then removed once the event is over.

The other is in locations where the primary use is pedestrian but, frequently, vehicles need to pass through. An example could be a square in which the maintenance truck comes through to clean the square periodically. Other areas could be those locations with restricted parking. At a hospital, it may the entrance to the emergency unit.

TEMPORARY BARRIERS ARE POPULAR ON CAMPUSES

By their very nature, terrorist attacks are unpredictable and predicated on surprise. Staying one step ahead by identifying vulnerable areas, and securing them, is critical to staving off vehicular attacks. That means being able to deploy security equipment in tough conditions, at a moment’s notice. Such equipment has existed for several years in the forms of portable temporary barriers.

During the 2017 football season, six of the Associated Press (AP) top-10 rated pre-season football schools, stayed one step ahead of terrorists and errant drivers on their campuses by identifying vulnerable areas and securing them within minutes with temporary, portable barriers.

Terrorists typically don’t go where they see barricades, so placing them wherever possible attacks can happen reduces security risks dramatically. Temporary barriers are often used to protect facilities while permanent ones are being built. Plus, they’ve even been effective for the long-term where physical conditions preclude permanent solutions.

Their most common use, though, is for when vehicle access is required temporarily. Parking for the football game, a grand opening for the new wing, freshman matriculation day and open houses are events needing only a temporary solution. These barriers can be deployed quickly and effectively, even in places where it’s impossible to excavate for a permanent foundation.

Moveable self-contained barricades can be towed into position to control vehicle access within 15 minutes to answer the need of organizations that quickly require a temporary barricade system to address a specific threat or secure a facility during special events. They were created for military checkpoints in Afghanistan and Iraq to provide another level of force protection.

These mobile deployable vehicle crash barriers carry a M40 rating, stopping seven and a half ton vehicles traveling 40 miles per hour. No excavation or sub-surface preparation is required. Once towed into position, the portable barricade uses DC-powered hydraulic pumps to unpack and raise and lower itself off its wheels. There is no hand cranking. Wheels are stored along the sides and the vehicle ramps fold out, completing the implementation. To move the barrier from that spot to another, the procedures are just reversed.

Differing from the “hard stop,” wanted with anti-terrorist barricades, the Soft Stop technology of the portable barrier decelerates and stops the vehicle over a short distance. This is important because, in many cases, the tragedies that the portables negate are accidents. Authorities want the vehicle stopped but they also want to minimize injury to the driver.

Penn State University uses seven of these barriers for home football games and special events. Like similar applications at the University of Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and others, PSU is able to quickly deploy these barriers at strategic sites around the facility. After the event, they are quickly knocked down and towed to another location.

Just recently, portable, temporary bollards have been added as a tool to stopping attacks. Individual portable bollards provide vehicle barricades in applications such as heavily traveled narrow walkways and roadways or any area that a vehicle can get through. They can also be used as substitutes until permanent bollard systems get installed and can be placed on any stable surface such as concrete, asphalt, compacted soil or vegetation to quickly protect people and property against aggravated automobile or truck assault.

Up to five TB100 portable bollards can be linked together with a cable system and be placed on a road’s surface to create immediate protection. No other installation procedures, excavations or sub-surface preparations are required. Certified testing demonstrates that a portable bollard system will stop and disable a 15,000 pound vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour, resulting in an ASTM M30, P3 rating. A single TB100 bollard absorbs 400,000 foot pounds of kinetic energy.

Temporary bollards can be used to close off streets, entrances or wide expanses such as access to pedestrian areas or even airport runways. They can be installed in conjunction with portable barricade to fill in any gaps to protect people and critical infrastructures at public events such as parades, festivals, sporting weekends and any place that vehicles could attack transitory events. The combination of the portable barriers with the new portable bollards provides fast controlled vehicle access without the time and labor of installation.

PROCUREMENT OFTEN SIMPLIFIED

From a purchasing standpoint, it can be easier to buy portable barriers than permanent barriers. The latter are oftentimes placed into an organization’s real assets budget because they are permanently installed into the ground, becoming part of the property. Such budgets can often create complex purchasing scenarios for an agency. However, purchasing portable barriers is no different than buying protective vests for personnel or new sets of wrenches for the maintenance department.

FIXED, MOVEABLE BOLLARDS - THE MOST USED PERMANENT SOLUTIONS USED ON CAMPUSES

Bollards, some moveable that go up and down to let vehicles through and others fixed or stationary, are aesthetically pleasing and let pedestrians move between them in non-roadway applications. Bollard systems operate individually or in groups of up to ten. They are used for intermediate level security applications. Individual bollards are up to 12.75 inches in diameter, up to 35 inches high and are usually mounted on three to five foot centers. They are tested to stop and destroy an attacking vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds moving at 65 miles per hour or a 20,000-pound vehicle moving at 46 miles per hour. Kept in the “up” position to stop traffic, moveable bollards lower to allow vehicles through.

Ranging from faceted, fluted, tapered, rings and ripples, colors, pillars, to shields, emblems and logos, bollards look nice and are versatile. You can specify ornamental steel trim attached directly to the bollard, or select cast aluminum sleeves, which slip right over the crash tube. Bollards can be galvanized for corrosion resistance, fitted with an internal warning light for increased visibility and engineered to suit high traffic volume. If damaged, simply slip off the old and slip on the new.

UCLA uses decorative bollards throughout the campus to restrict vehicle access to student housing areas and other locations which require authorized access on a somewhat frequent basis. Some of the areas block access to dumpsters and roads that demand pedestrian access only, such as when classes are in session.

Decorative bollards also protect the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located on a ninety-acre site on the West Campus of Texas A&M University. These bollards are designed to protect facilities from those not authorized to enter or others from driving errant vehicles into pedestrian areas.

Fixed post bollards are available to secure the sides of roadways with the same crash rating and appearance as their moveable cousins. While cement barriers, such as posts and pots, are available many campuses prefer fixed post bollards for several reasons. First of all, when hit, cement posts and pots can explode, literally spreading shrapnel throughout the crowd, potentially creating numerous injuries. Shallow foundation bollards can be installed within sidewalks or on top of concrete deck truss bridges as well as conform to the inclines and turns of a locale. They also meet the one-meter clearance regulations mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The fixed bollard, which does not go up and down, provides a significant blocking device solution that continues to challenge security directors faced with threats such as stopping a vehicle from plowing into the hospital’s pharmacy to keeping vehicles on the other side of the campus perimeter. They let facility manager meet a long-standing challenge—how to easily install bollards on shallow substrates, including those that are not level or have turns. No longer do locations, such as curves on hills, the upper levels of parking structures and other unprotected locales have to use unsightly ‘make-do’ solutions to stop car bombers or wayward drivers.

NO APPLICATION TOO LARGE OR SMALL

Protecting campuses from vehicle attack is no small responsibility; it’s becoming mandatory. Knowing that you’ve got the right equipment in place to secure the campus from vehicle threat and prevent what is becoming all too common human tragedy brings a peace of mind that no amount of money can buy. Carefully researching available options and consulting with experts will ultimately lead to the right solution in helping you protect your campus from vehicle-based terrorism.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of CSLS.

Digital Edition

  • Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine - August 2018

    August 2018

    Featuring:

    • How To Select The Best Mass Notification System For Your Campus
    • Why, Where and When To Retrofit
    • Four Tips For Developing Effective Campus Security
    • Three Pillars Of Visitor Management

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