Physical barriers are one of the best options to protect pedestrian areas and buildings from possible VAW attacks. Because of this function, these barriers are also known as hostile vehicle mitigation barriers.

Remember that mass multiplied by acceleration gives us an object’s force. Considering that an average SUV can easily weigh 5,000 pounds, you can imagine how much force would be exerted if that SUV were to come speeding toward a building. The energy of this force increases with larger vehicles, like a semi-truck. To keep people and buildings safe in these instances, you need a barrier strong enough to stand up to that level of impact and one that can stop a VAW in its tracks.

You have likely seen HVM barriers on college campuses, around government buildings and throughout cities without even noticing they are there. In public spaces like these, barriers often take the form of bollards and may even be decorative in appearance so they do not feel intrusive. Private facilities may have more obvious forms of physical security, such as a fence that surrounds the property. In these cases, anti-ram gates may be the barrier of choice to stop vehicles attempting to gain access to the property.


HVM barriers must be crash-tested — meaning, they have undergone testing to ensure they meet specific standards for standing up to a moving vehicle. Some of the most relevant criteria to pay attention to include:
    • US DOS/DOD K: The Department of State (DOS) and Department of Defense (DOD) ratings are no longer officially recognized, but you may still see them referenced. A K rating of K4, K8 or K12 signifies that a barrier can stop a 15,000 lb vehicle traveling at 30, 40, and 50 mph, respectively.
    • ASTM F 2656: ASTM ratings have replaced the DOS and DOD ratings in the U.S. These standard shares similarities with the DOS K rating, but measures penetration in more detail.
    • BSI PAS 68: The British Standards Institution (BSI) Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 68 is a key standard for hostile vehicle mitigation products of various kinds, especially in the U.K. A BSI PAS 68 rating will include information on the type of vehicle and the speed of impact a barrier can withstand.
  • IWA 14: Another important standard is International Workshop Agreement (IWA) 14, which specifies requirements for a vehicle security barrier’s essential impact performance. This standard is used globally.


Vehicle mitigation barriers come in a variety of forms, but each falls into one of two categories:

  • Active barriers: Active vehicle barriers are designed to deploy and retract when necessary to help you control access points into your property. A typical example is a drop-arm crash beam that runs across an access road to keep it closed off. A person needs to provide the proper credentials to enter the facility, and the beam raises to let them in.
  • Passive barriers: Passive barriers remain in place at all times, so they are not meant for access points. Instead, they guard the perimeter of an area where vehicles should never enter. For example, this would include immovable features like walls, fences, and bollards.

 Most properties will need both active and passive barriers for complete perimeter protection. Some HVM barriers come in both active and passive options, but most are designed either for perimeters or for access points. Let’s look at some of the most common options you can consider for HVM security on your property.

1. Bollards

Vehicle mitigation bollards are cylindrical posts that, when spaced a few feet apart, can allow pedestrians and cyclists to freely enter an area while blocking it from vehicles. Bollards come in a variety of types, including removable and fixed options, and can be made from various materials, but they must be strong enough to visually deter a vehicle and stop one that is speeding toward a pedestrian area.

  • Removable: To block vehicle access to an area part of the time, use removable bollards. These bollards are designed to be removed or pivot into the ground. They are typically capped over with a ground cover lid so that they are noticeable when retracted. Removable bollards can be redeployed again whenever you need to restrict access to an area. For example, you can use removable bollards to block an entrance to a parking lot or to protect pedestrians attending a street festival.
  • Fixed: Fixed bollards are stationary, so they continuously block an area where they are installed and in some instances, you will find some surface-mount options for fixed bollards. Anti-ram bollards are often installed deep into the ground with a concrete footing to give crash resistance against moving vehicles.

Bollards are a popular choice because of their efficacy and versatility. Some bollards are decorative and may even be cast in a material like bronze or equipped with lights. Other bollards may stand out more as security devices with yellow stripes.

2. Crash-Rated Planters

Typical landscape features often fall short of the security many facilities need to prevent hostile vehicle attacks, especially for high-security facilities. Instead, integrate HVM barriers designed to look like attractive landscape features which also offer the strength you need for HVM security. The crash rated planters is strong enough to stop a vehicle that weighs 7.5 metric tons traveling at 40 mph. That strength comes from a device that, on the surface, simply looks like a sleek, attractive planter you can fill with flowers or greenery.

3. Crash Beams

A great option for access points is a drop-arm crash beam, also known as an anti-ram beam. These beams resemble the arms that descend to block access to a parking garage and move out of the way to let you enter once you have purchased a ticket. But crash beams are designed to be stronger than ordinary barrier gate arms. These beams are made from durable materials like aluminum and steel and are anchored in place with a concrete base.

Crash Beams are rated to withstand collisions from vehicles traveling at 30 to 50 mph depending on the model you choose. We also offer crash beams with different systems of operation, including:

  • Manual operation
  • Hydraulic operation
  • Electro-mechanical operation

System components: