What Is an Automatic Gate Opener Crush Zone?

What Is an Automatic Gate Opener Crush Zone?

Pin It

When you’re installing an automatic gate opener on a gate, there’s a lot to consider. You need to know the opening size, the gate weight, the duty cycles that will be expected of the gate, and more.

There are also a lot of safety considerations that you will need to account for, and many of those have to do with what we call the “crush zone” in the fence and gate industry. But what is an automatic gate opener crush zone, what are the risks, and how can you make sure your gate is safe and legally compliant? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Gate Crush zone?

When any gates open and close, there’s an area that will be affected by the opening and closing of that gate.

When you’re talking about a swing gate, that is the area that falls within the swing of the gate, and if you’re installing a sliding gate, that area is both the space within the gate opening where the gate slides and the area it slides into.

The reason this is called a crush zone is because any person or vehicle that is in that area when the gate is in operation is at risk of being crushed.

Of course, this is not a problem with manually operated gates because you would simply stop opening or closing the gate until the person or object is gone.

But when you add an automatic gate opener to your gate, you take the human control out of the equation, and if you’re not careful, drive away and don’t have the necessary safety features (which we will get to in a minute!), it could be very dangerous or even deadly to get caught in your gate’s crush zone.

What Does a Swing Gate Crush Zone Look Like?

We’ve created a little diagram for you so you can see what the crush zone of a swing gate might look like, with the crush zones indicated in orange.

swing gate crush zone

Most automatic gates only swing one way, so in that case, the orange areas below would only apply to the area within the swing arc of your gate. Likewise, if you have a single swing gate, you would only have to worry about the crush zone that is within the swing arc of your gate.

Many automatic swing gates are installed between walls and pillars, and when they are, the area between the gate and the pillar or wall is particularly dangerous in terms of crushing.

What Does a Sliding Gate Crush Zone Look Like?

Many automatic gates are sliding gates, so we’ve created another diagram to indicate the crush zone on this type of gate.

sliding gate crush zone

When you’re installing a sliding gate, the crush zone will not only be inside the gate opening but also in the space that the gate slides into. Depending on the type of sliding gate you’re installing, that could be anything up to 1.5 times the gate opening size.

If you are installing a double sliding gate, then the crush area would be inside the gate opening and in both directions of sliding operation.

Gate Safety and Legal Liability

While most people realize that protecting people, animals, vehicles, and property from damage is important for moral reasons, you might not realize that if you have a gate or fence installed that is not safe for the public, you probably have some legal liability if they are injured or killed or for any property damage that occurs.

This goes for anything from barbed wire to razor coils and electric fences to automatic gates.

So, no matter what you do, including gate safety mechanisms in your installation is not only the right thing to do; it’s a legal imperative.

How Can You Prevent Crush Injuries or Damage When Installing Automatic Gate Openers?

If you live in North America, your automatic gate installation is probably subject to UL325, which is the regional standard for automatic gate safety.

Other parts of the world have different standards and safety regulations, so it’s important to look up the local regulations and, whenever possible, use equipment that is locally made so that it’s compliant with the regulations in your area.

There are a few things you can do to make your automatic gates safer for people, pets, vehicles, and property, though, including:

  • Install signs like the ones you see at the top of this article to let people know your gates are automated
  • Always use flush bottom gates that don’t have spikes or pickets sticking out of the bottom – this is a requirement for UL325, but it’s also good practice in general – if someone were to fall alongside your gate, any metal sticking out the bottom could seriously injure them
  • Install safety beams or photo eyes, as they are also known in parts of the world – these generate an invisible beam, and when that beam is interrupted between the transmitter and the receiver, the gate won’t close
  • If you have vehicles of different types using your automatic gates, install beams at more than one height – a higher vehicle might not break a lower beam, and that might result in accidental closure and damage
  • Install safety loops in your gates so that if there is a vehicle in the loop area, your gates won’t close
  • If they’re available in your area, look for gate operators with crush detection and auto-reverse
  • Install safety edges on your gates if you can’t find a gate operator with anti-crush technology – these sense anything the gate runs into and will also automatically reverse the gate operation
  • Whenever possible, restrict access to gates that have automation on them – while this isn’t always possible, the fewer people using these kinds of gates, the less chance there is of injury or accident

Probably the most important thing you can do to make sure the automatic gate opener system you are installing on your gate is as safe as possible for users and the public is to work with a reputable, knowledgeable, professional gate automation company.

Professional gate companies will know what the regulations in your area are and what products you can use to make your gate as safe as possible for everyone who uses it.

When you’re doing this kind of gate project, skill, expertise, and quality products are so much more important than the lowest price, so always consider every quote and option carefully and put safety first.

new cta image