A growing number of cities are allowing restaurants to expand into sidewalks, streets, and parking lots during the coronavirus pandemic.
Some restaurants have constructed dining areas in streets that previously saw heavy traffic. Unfortunately, this poses safety risks — and it has resulted in a growing number of car accidents.
Traffic safety expert Beau Biller warned that drivers might be surprised by newly-constructed seating areas in the road:
“It doesn’t surprise me that there have been accidents. All of a sudden, there’s something in the roadway with no warning. That’s going to be a problem.”
New York Police Department officials confirmed at least 4 accidents involving outdoor dining areas, but the actual number may be higher.
On July 12, a driver in New York City plowed into an expanded outdoor dining area for the 12 Corazones Restaurant, injuring a waitress and four diners.
Two days earlier, an SUV plowed into the outdoor dining area for Nellie’s Place in Waldwick, New Jersey, after a 57 year-old driver fainted at the wheel after submitting a blood sample for a COVID-19 test at Rite Aid.
You can watch the video below. It was lunchtime, but no one was injured because the outdoor dining area was closed due to rain from Tropical Storm Fay.