At around 4:40 p.m. on November 21, 2021, Darrell E. Brooks Jr. shocked the nation when he drove a red SUV through an annual Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The incident was over almost as quickly as it began, leaving 6 dead and dozens injured. Why Brooks did this is still largely unknown, however, witnesses felt this was "a direct intent to hit as many parade participants as possible.”
Unfortunately, intentional vehicle ramming incidents at temporary events like the one described above are not uncommon. In 2016, a tractor trailer barreled into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, killing 12 people and injuring 48 others. In 2022, a man killed 1 person and injured 17 others after driving through a crowd gathered for a fundraising event in Berwick, Pennsylvania. And 10 people were injured in 2014 in Nantes, France when a van plowed into shoppers at yet another Christmas market.
The motivation behind such intentional vehicular attacks may differ — terrorism, political unrest, personal disputes, etc. — but the reasons why attackers target temporary events are the same. A determined attacker driving a large vehicle at even low rates of speed leaves tightly coupled victims with few places to hide. Fortunately, crash-rated mobile vehicle barriers provide a solution.
Crash-rated mobile vehicle barrier solutions are ideal for the prevention of vehicle ramming incidents, both intentional and accidental. Their fast and easy to install nature makes them well suited to a number of temporary events that require short-lived protection. This includes holiday markets, street festivals, outdoor concerts, campaign rallies, sporting events, and other occasions where foot traffic is dense but not permanent. In such events, mobile vehicle barriers serve as an effective perimeter, keeping vehicles away from central activity while preserving the welcoming atmosphere of community gatherings.
There are a number of mobile vehicle barriers available on the market today, however, not all solutions are created equal. While all mobile vehicle barriers provide a visual deterrent against vehicular attacks, only crash-rated solutions offer proven prevention against such incidents. Crash-rated mobile solutions undergo rigorous testing and are rated by standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). These standards require physically testing the impact of specific weight vehicles traveling at various speeds into the tested vehicle barriers, and assessing crashworthiness based on the penetration distance beyond the barrier.
For example, surface-set drop arm solutions carry an ASTM crash rating of M50-P3, capable of stopping a 15,000lb vehicle at 50mph and ideal for longer-term or high-security temporary events. The benefit of these solutions is that they can be easily relocated using a forklift without requiring disassembly or excavation while still providing provisioning for necessary through traffic such as emergency vehicles.
On the other end of the spectrum, modular, portable vehicle barrier solutions offer low-cost protection that can be adjusted to fit site and specific roadway widths. Though not as heavy duty as a mobile drop arm solution, these barriers can be set up and moved by a single technician.
Lastly, quick connect barriers afford municipalities and townships the superior stoppage power of a M30-P2 rated solution coupled with an aesthetically pleasing design that can be quickly deployed in just 4 minutes. Perfect for public spaces that often experience road closures for street festivals and temporary events, such as a monthly farmers market, quick connect barriers are simple to operate with minimal maintenance. Simply connect the cable when required and store it within the enclosure when not in use.
Temporary event security is not a temporary issue. According to research published by The British Journal of Criminology, the act of purposely driving a vehicle into pedestrians is a method of attack trending upwards. By 2016, vehicle ramming attacks had become the most lethal form of terror attack in Western countries, claiming just over half of all terrorism-related deaths in the West that year.
Even without terroristic intent, crash-rated mobile vehicle barriers offer a proven solution against vehicle ramming incidents, like the one experienced in Waukesha to those caused by simple error. Municipalities, law enforcement agencies, and event security teams need not wait until such an incident happens in their town to proactively address the potential risks associated with temporary gatherings. Investing in and strategically deploying mobile vehicle barriers for temporary events is an imperative step toward safeguarding public spaces and protecting event attendees.