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CROSS Safety Report

Car park barrier failure

Report ID: 352 Published: 1 July 2013 Region: CROSS-UK

This report is over 2 years old

Please be aware that it might contain information that is no longer up to date. We keep all reports available for historic reference and as learning aids.


A reporter discusses the load capacity of barriers in car parks following the failure of a barrier which caused a fatality.

Key Learning Outcomes

For construction professionals and building owners:

  • Barriers should be designed and constructed to meet the code loading requirements for impact from vehicles

  • Precast concrete wheel stops should not be relied upon to act as a barrier

  • If you are concerned about the adequacy of barriers that are installed in you premises, consider having them assessed by a suitably qualified engineer

For civil and structural design engineers:

  • Barriers should be designed to withstand the impact loads in accordance the current standards  

Full Report

Find out more about the Full Report

The Full Report below has been submitted to CROSS and describes the reporter’s experience. The text has been edited for clarity and to ensure anonymity and confidentiality by removing any identifiable details. If you would like to know more about our secure reporting process or submit a report yourself, please visit the reporting to CROSS-UK page.


Some years ago, a driver reversed his car into a car space on the second storey of a multi-storey car park (MSCPs) and collided with the external steel barrier which failed. The car fell some nine metres to the ground below and the driver was killed.

The car park was built in the 1980s and the vehicle barriers should have been designed and constructed to withstand loads in accordance with then current national standards, but it was found that the structural design of the steel barriers did not meet the code loading requirements for impact from cars.

There was a suggestion that some reliance for vehicle restraint may have been placed on precast concrete wheel stops, although these were not present at the ends of aisles where the barrier was the only restraint.

In any event, it was found by calculation that the steel barriers which may have appeared to have been substantial to a lay person, were not adequate. The 150mm high precast concrete wheel stop did not prevent the car from impacting the steel barrier. It is believed that in some buildings there is complete reliance on wheel stops only to restrain vehicles.

It is believed that in some buildings there is complete reliance on wheel stops only to restrain vehicles

It is recommended by the reporter that the load capacity of existing barriers and/or the provision of new barriers should be considered during the maintenance and/or refurbishment of existing MSCPs.

Expert Panel Comments

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Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.

From time to time there are press reports of cars being inadvertently driven through barriers on MSCPs. The reporter’s recommendation to check the load carrying capacity of existing barriers against values in current codes should be followed.

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