Ideal Applications for Traffic Bollards: Drive-Thrus

Posted by webmaster | 03 March 2017

Reposted from

This post is part four of a five part article dealing with types of bollards and their ideal uses. Today I’ll discuss various drive-thru applications where bollards are often found protecting equipment and personnel.

Banks and ATMs

Perhaps the most obvious use for protective bollards is at the traditional bank drive through teller. These areas have expensive equipment and are usually narrow lanes, requiring protection from drivers who might struggle to get close enough to the machine. More recently, all banks have installed drive through automated teller machines (ATM) with similar requirements for protection. These machines are sometimes stand-alone within a parking lot, and because of the large amount of cash held inside, need to be protected from “crash and grab” robberies where a criminal might ram the machine in order to dislodge it and potential haul away the entire machine. Strong bollards are key in these instances.

Drive-Thru Restaurants

Fast food restaurants with drive up windows must protect several areas. First is the ordering speaker and menu board. Damage to either can temporarily close an important source of revenue if the restaurant cannot take drive through orders. Second is the building and teller window. Often a turn is needed by a driver to approach the restaurant window to both pay and receive food. Because the driver must reach out the window for these tasks, he usually attempts to be as close to the building as possible, increase the risk of damage. Bollards play an important role in protecting both the physical building and the teller window from accidental impact. These are often large (6” diameter and relatively tall) steel bollards.

Outside Eating Areas

Restaurant owners that chose to maintain outdoor eating areas need to consider the protection provided for their patrons against an errant vehicle. This is especially critical in areas adjacent to roadways, but is also important when near parking areas. Simple wrought iron fencing is not enough to prevent potentially life threatening injuries should a drive lose control of his vehicle. Often due to aesthetic considerations, large concrete planters are chosen to provide protection, but architectural bollards can also be used. In either case, the protection should be professionally engineered to provide adequate protections from potential risks.

Guard Shacks and Payment Shacks

Common to public parking lots and garages is an entrance and exit guard shack, usually manned, designed to house a single teller. Because this is usually the only access point for the secured area, it must be protected from both accidental and intentional ramming. Strong bollards are used throughout these areas to protect both the occupant and adjacent areas where automatic payment machines might be located. In the case of a post-tensioned concrete structure, surface mounted bollards may be required to avoid damage to structural concrete. In this case, rebounding bollards may be the best choice as they can provide more strength that a simple steel plate surface mounted bollard.

Automatic Car Washes

The automatic car wash is a special sort of drive through area with delicate equipment that needs to be protected at all cost. A car wash with damaged equipment often makes no money while waiting for repairs. Modern car wash facilities have automated drive up teller machines that need bollard protection. The entrance and exit of the car wash itself also needs to be protected as drivers attempt to align their vehicles to the tracks and exit the wash. Speeds are generally expected to be slow in these areas, so often surface mounted bollards can be adequate. Relying on plastic warning cones, however, is not recommended.


Adequate protection for employees, customers, and expensive equipment is of critical importance for businesses that operate drive through areas. Failure to provide adequate protection can lead to lost revenue and risk injury to people. In such cases, bollards are an indispensable safety device.

In the next and last installment of this article, we’ll look at a completely new application for bollards, that being in the industrial setting where forklift protection is an important consideration.

Categories: Articles

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