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I-Team: Safety Bollards Not Required At Mass. Businesses

BOSTON (CBS) - As daylight emerged on Wednesday, it revealed how the car that crashed into Sweet Tomatoes restaurant barely missed colliding with a row of concrete barriers lining the sidewalk.

The structures, known as bollards, are often installed as a protective measure to protect pedestrians or keep cars away from buildings like the federal courthouse.

But the I-Team learned there is no law in Massachusetts stating where bollards should be placed. A bill that would require them in new construction projects is currently stalled on Beacon Hill.

Sweet Tomatoes
Safety bollards outside Sweet Tomatoes in West Newton (WBZ-TV)

Near the site of the crash in West Newton, people passing by commented how the bollards stopped just short of the path of the car.

Loren Sklar, an area business owner of 24 years, said hindsight makes the decision seem clear.

"It seems like, of course, we should have something quite a bit further along," Sklar said. "I guess we don't think someone is going to go straight through the intersection and keep going."

Newton crash sweet tomatoes
The scene outside Sweet Tomatoes in Newton after the crash March 1. (Photo credit: Bernice Corpuz)

But according to the Storefront Safety Council, crashes into businesses happen 60 times per day across the country. The accidents kill roughly 500 people and injure thousands every year.

Just in the past few weeks, there have been several of the crashes in the Boston area, including a car that plowed into a Dunkin' Donuts in Lynn, and a vehicle that smashed through a Starbucks in Norwood.

Researchers from Texas A&M University told the I-Team the short cement pillars can save lives.

Newton crash sweet tomatoes
The SUV crashed into the restaurant March 1, 2016. (WBZ-TV)

"You are never thinking about a vehicle in the parking lot, so you'd never see it coming if it were to enter the store," engineer Michael Bracken said. "Every storefront is vulnerable."

Sklar said the horrific crash in West Newton will likely spark the conversation about whether more bollards are needed.

"I think we should have more as a precautionary measure," she said.

The I-Team asked the City of Newton about when the bollards were installed near the intersection of Washington St and Chestnut St., along with the design of the project.

A city spokesman could not immediately gather the information to answer those questions.

Since January 2012, the intersection has seen eight other accidents, according to the Newton Police Department. A police spokesman said none of those were fatal or involved collisions with any of the buildings.

Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook

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