The first line of defence in a secure home or business is a well-protected driveway, especially if you are parking expensive vehicles on it. This is not only limited to cars, but also trailers, campervans, boats, caravans. We have previously talked about bicycle security, and today we are going to delve into the many ways of improving the security of your driveway. And how better to protect your vehicles from theft than to physically block them in using barriers only you can operate?
The choice of security bollards for your driveway can seem overwhelming, but we are here to lay out the basics: how to assess the needs of your driveway, choose a suitable bollard, and what extra measures you can take to protect your vehicles from thieves. But most people who need security bollards have little working knowledge of them. Expertise and advice can make the difference between a costly buy and a savvy purchase.
The beauty of bollards
Here at Barriers Direct, we have a huge selection of security bollards perfect for your property. They are usually installed at the entrance to your driveway or alternatively in front of where your vehicle is parked. However, before we even get into bollards, it is key to note that vehicles parked off-road are far less likely to be stolen. If you have a driveway, great. If you have a garage, even better.
Okay, so you don’t have a garage — but why would you want to install security bollards on your driveway anyway? After all, your vehicle is locked and only you have the key, right? Well, thieves are often seasoned criminals. Unfortunately, as security technology becomes more sophisticated, so does the counter-technology utilised by those who want to steal your vehicle.
Sometimes, getting back to basics is called for. It’s of little use to a thief to have a high-tech keyless-entry simulator (more on this later) if your vehicle is entirely blocked into a corner of your driveway. Bollards also act as visual deterrents; they signal to a would-be thief that even attempting to steal this vehicle would be a monumental task. Bollards are simply too tough, too heavy, too solid to be dealt with, even if your property is left unattended for a lengthy period. Most can even withstand any attempt to be drilled out.
Security bollards on your driveway not only prevent vehicle theft but also ram-raid attacks on your garage and unwanted vehicles turning or even parking on your premises. Investing in bollards is relatively inexpensive in contrast with the potentially astronomical insurance and legal costs of having your vehicle stolen — and that’s not to mention the emotional turmoil you would experience. Bollards are a remarkably small price to pay.
So which bollard is best for you?
Choosing the right bollard for your driveway
Bollards can be defined as high-security or domestic. High-security bollards are impact-tested and so more commonly seen at secure sites that require protection from vehicle attacks, such as airports and government buildings. They are not generally necessary for domestic or business properties (although we have a superb range of high-security bollards, too!). That said, the thickness of your bollard does make a difference, so always check before purchasing. A thicker wall can minimise the severity and ugliness of damage if your bollard is knocked.
There are 4 types of bollard. Understanding them is key to knowing which is right for your driveway.
Telescopic — These bollards can be manually lowered into the ground, allowing flexible protection of your driveway. They are locked in place and, when access is required, can be retracted into the ground in a matter of seconds, leaving a totally flush finish. Telescopic bollards are the most popular choice for driveways because they are easy to use and extremely effective. Those who are concerned about lifting need never miss out on the benefits, either: lift-assisted telescopic bollards are also available. These reduce the lifting weight by up to 60%
Removable — Removable bollards are just as flexible as their telescopic counterparts, but need not be permanent. This is particularly handy if your driveway is built above a high water table; that is, the level at which the soil or gravel is completely saturated. A high water table negates installation of telescopic bollards because immersion over long periods leads to rust. Furthermore, lifting a bollard out of a water-filled outer casing creates drag. This greatly increases the bollard’s net weight, making lifting extremely difficult. Removable bollards are also more appropriate if you have pipes or wiring beneath your driveway which limit how deeply it can be excavated. They still sit within an outer casing but do not retract fully into the ground. When not in use, they can be stored securely in specialised sockets, preventing scratching.
Fixed — Sometimes referred to as static bollards, fixed bollards are rarely suitable for driveways because their permanency inhibits any vehicular access. These bollards are far more commonly seen lining walkways or car parks. There may, however, be an occasion when you are looking to permanently stop access to part of the property or narrow the path of access.
Automatic — Controlled remotely, these represent the high end of driveway security. They require a more advanced installation process as they operate by means of a hydraulic pump system. If your driveway is being accessed frequently, an automatic bollard could save you a lot of time in the long run. If you have a high water table but feel you need automatic bollards, you may consider installing a drain that ensures water is continuously being diverted away from the system.
You’ll also want to consider the appearance of your bollard, as even within the four types there is a lot of variation. Our bollards come in a variety of colours, designs and materials, so they can be tailored to the individual aesthetics of your property. Reflective bands for added visibility are available. Automatic bollards can also be provided with lights (telescopic and removable bollards cannot). An LED lighting ring can be supplied to help bring the automatic system to the attention of pedestrians and vehicles, especially at night.
Once you’ve chosen which bollard is right for your driveway, how should you approach the installation process?
Installing your bollard
First things first: hire a skip! So many people fail to take this initial step and run into all manner of problems down the line. Perhaps this is because the finished product looks neat and tidy, but remember that bollard installation entails digging down into concrete, brick or tarmac. Rubble and spoil need to be removed as soon as possible to leave your driveway clean, presentable and accessible. A skip is even more crucial if you are installing automatic bollards as they require more extensive civil works.
There may be scope to get away with a couple of rubble bags if you are having only one or two telescopic or removable bollards installed — but how many do you actually need? It depends on the width of your driveway’s entrance. Working from a fixed point — say a hedge, fencepost, wall — we recommend spacing your bollards 1.4–1.5m apart, centre to centre.
You can install your bollards yourself or you can call on us. Our experts will ensure an efficient installation procedure for your driveway.
Bollards are hardy, solid, tough objects; they are built to last. Because of this, though, some people overlook the importance of maintaining them — they still need a little TLC from time to time! We recommend one service a year for your driveway security bollards, although you should be aware of their unique maintenance aspects with regard to both their material and the environment they are in. Check out our comprehensive guide to bollard maintenance for all the information you’ll ever need on taking care of those sturdy little guys standing guard on your driveway!
To bollard or not to bollard
That is the question. Here at Barriers Direct, we love bollards as much as the next person, but it may be that what your property needs goes beyond the scope of the bollard and into that of something else we purvey: gates.
If you want to completely inhibit vehicle and pedestrian access to your property then a gate could be right for you. Gates give an even greater air of security and protection to your property — not to mention they can look rather grand! Check out our marvellous double-swing, maintenance-free gate in aluminium with mixed infill and bell-curved top (shown above).
Gates are also incredibly useful if you have animals or young children who might run out into the road. Automatic gates can be easily and quickly operated, although a manual gate can do the job just fine, too.
5 top tips for car security on your driveway
Our bollards will go a long way towards helping secure your driveway from vehicle theft. However, there is always more you can be doing to help yourself in the war against car thieves. Here are our 5 top tips for car security on your driveway.
Visual deterrents. A deterrent says loudly and clearly to a would-be car thief, ‘This is just too much hassle — move on.’ A lock, whether for your steering wheel, gearstick or handbrake, is relatively inexpensive. We at Barriers Direct can help you pick out the best lock for your vehicle. A lock is not impenetrable to a seasoned car thief but, just like bollards, it greatly decreases the likelihood of theft. Locks are bright and often have flashing lights, signalling from a long way off that this vehicle is not worth their time.
Avoiding relay attacks. A staggering 96% of motorists with keyless-entry systems are at risk of having their vehicles stolen using a relay attack. A thief stands close to your property in order to receive a signal from the key, then transmits the signal to a box placed alongside the vehicle by a second thief. This simulates the key being beside the car and allows it to be unlocked. The signal can penetrate doors, windows, walls, but not metal. Get into the habit of placing your keys in a metal box, signal-blocking wallet or safe.
Hide your valuables. We hear this one time and time again, but many people still underestimate the risks of leaving expensive goods on show. Many thieves aren’t only out to steal your vehicle; phones, satnavs, laptops, briefcases, sunglasses, watches, jackets — all are fair game to criminals. If you can’t take your possessions with you for whatever reason, always hide them out of sight, whether in the glove compartment or in the boot.
Security for the worst-case scenario. A thief is in the process of stealing your vehicle — but this isn’t over. Almost all modern vehicles have factory-fitted immobilisers, but adding an alarm can both reduce your insurance premium and deter a thief in the act. We recommend alarms approved by Thatcham Research, perhaps the foremost authority on vehicle security since the ’90s. A tracking device will not prevent theft, of course, but it will greatly increase the chance of recovery. These devices are not the preserve of high-end vehicles, either: 75% of stolen vehicles recovered because of tracking devices are worth less than £20,000. Indeed, 27% are worth less than £5,000.
Always lock your vehicle! You should never leave your vehicle unlocked on your driveway, even if you’re only popping into your house for a minute to pick up that file you forgot, or your passport, or your lunch from the kitchen worktop. 999 times out of 1,000 this will pass without incident, but it only takes one extremely opportunistic thief to cause you a massive amount of grief.
An invaluable purchase
Installing bollards in your driveway is a surefire way to increase the security of your vehicles and, by extension, your property. They are extremely tough and send a direct message to potential thieves that they’ve chosen the wrong place to commit their wrongdoing.
Here at Barriers Direct, we have a wide and varied selection of driveway security bollards, whether for your home or business. A relatively small expense may well save you a huge amount of trouble down the line. Get in touch today and speak to one of our experts about which bollard is right for you and your property. You can’t put a price on peace of mind!