Terror protection: modular HVM barriers

How to avoid hostile vehicle attacks with modular vehicle barriers

The temporary protection of festivals, fairgrounds or Christmas markets against hostile vehicle  attacks is still a very special challenge. In the meantime, the variety of HVM barriers has grown considerably. But how do the various barriers differ and how are they used? We offer you a short overview.

Terror protection for events

Modular HVM barriers and their applications

Have you already considered buying a modular HVM barrier? If so, you probably know how many different types of barriers are available on the market today. And every barrier claims to be the best. But is there a barrier that meets all requirements ? The answer is quite clear: no. Many municipalities and event organisers are overburdened with the purchase and correct use of modular barrier systems. After all, the barrier should be effective and do its job in the event of an attack. With this article we will show you different approaches to solutions.

You can also find further information here: Tips for obtaining mobile HVM barriers


Shutting off according to the onion principle - this is how cities do it

If you look over the shoulders of larger cities and communities, you will quickly see that there is a clear safety concept. Events are not only cordoned off directly in front of the festival area, but according to the onion principle.

This is done by dividing the towns into different security zones. Depending on the zone and blocking concept, different barrier systems are used. The closer to the festival site, the more important are, for example, barriers with good personal permeability, barrier-free access and passage for rescue vehicles and deliveries.

Security concept as basis
The security concept is based on a comprehensive analysis of the potential danger and a comprehensive security plan. It would go beyond the scope of this report to go into this in more detail.

Terror protection according to the onion principle

The HVM barriers at a glance

Is there a barrier that covers all requirements? No. The HVM barriers currently available on the market have all been developed for a specific application. They differ in terms of

  • Impact load
  • Penetration depth
  • Permeability (flow of people, accessibility)
  • Flexibility (movable, controlled passage)
  • Operability (manual, automatic)

This is why large cities such as Berlin, Munich and Zurich rely on a combination of several different systems to protect against vehicle ramming attacks.

Is there a barrier that covers all requirements?

The following applies to all HVM barriers: safety zone before protection zone!

Even the most effective barrier cannot protect if it is used incorrectly. Each HVM barrier shifts between 6 and 50 metres after an impact (depending on the penetration depht tested). It is therefor mandatory to consider a safety zone. If the barrier is is placed too close to the festival ground (protection zone), the barrier will be pushed into the crowd in the event of an impact.

Sicherheitszone vor Schutzzone
Insufficient protection zone - protection against terrorism

Barriers placed too close to the festival grounds lull visitors into a false sense of security. In the event of an attack, the barriers, including the vehicle, would be pushed directly into the crowd.


Alternative barrier systems tested in practice

Offset elements | chicanes

If barriers elements are used offset, the vehicle must not be able to accelerate again after bypassing the obstacle. This was unfortunately the case in Volkmarsen.

Please also note that a sufficient number of elements are used. The fewer elements, the lower the protective effect and the greater the penetration depth of the barrier. Please ask the manufacturer for the number of blocking elements tested (certification) and the penetration depth (displacement) achieved.

Versetzte Betonelemente als Terrorschutz

Vehicles placed crosswise

Vehicles parked sideways are not suitable as HVM barriers. Crash tests have shown that these vehicles are pushed away at high speed - in the worst case directly into the crowd. The vehicles are also usually only slightly damaged. They can accelerate and attack again.

Another argument against crosswise placed vehicles is that they block the view and thus prevent an early reaction to possible attacks. They also block escape routes.


Concrete blocks and jersey elements

Individually placed concrete blocks or jersey elements offer no protection against HVM attacks. On the contrary: they become projectiles on impact - this has been proven by various crash tests.

The situation is different with concrete blocks connected to form chains: These can also withstand higher impact loads. The attacking vehicle is not only severely damaged, but also braked by the counterweight of the concrete blocks.


Protective street furniture: the invisible protection

Protective street furniture is also becoming more and more important in terror protection. Flower pots, benches or large planters anchored in the ground offer invisible protection and are well accepted by the population.

Various suppliers - including Marshalls and ourselves - produce a wide range of different street furniture. Fixed or removable.

Protective bench SERP by Marshalls
ARMIS Planter - Protective urban furniture by Consel

Do you have any questions? We are happy to advise you!

The offer is huge, so are the possibilities. Therefore it is not possible to illustrate all relevant points here. We would be pleased to offer you a personal, non-binding consultation. We draw from a huge wealth of experience from countless major projects in the field of perimeter and terror protection. Inquiry


Our products

Need more information?

Our sales team is at your disposal for a personal, free consultation:

Manuel Benaiges

Manuel Benaiges

Head of Sales
Sales Switzerland

Phone 043 277 60 70


Francis Seijas

Francis Seijas

Sales Engineer
Sales Switzerland, Exports

Phone 043 277 60 77



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