Authorities are hoping Thursday's attack in Nice, France, doesn't lead to a wave of similar vehicular attacks that are both easy to pull off and incredibly difficult to prevent. Back in 2010, the Department of Homeland Security warned of terrorists using vehicles to kill civilians at "sporting events, entertainment venues, or shopping centers," the Washington Post reports. "Vehicle ramming offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a Homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience," NBC News quotes the department as saying. One expert says this method of attack not only can be done by anyone at any time, but they won't need to first tip their hand by traveling to Syria, contacting other terrorists, or anything like that.
“Al-Qaeda and ISIS have both exhorted their followers to use any means to bring death," a counterterrorism expert tells the Los Angeles Times. "With limited access to explosives, large vehicles into large crowds are an obvious event.” In fact, both groups have recently suggested using vehicles as weapons. It's a method that can be extremely deadly even when used unintentionally, as shown in 2003 when an elderly man killed 10 people by accidentally driving through a California farmers market. But the attack in Nice, which killed 84, represents a new level of carnage for vehicular assault. Three similar attacks in France between 2014 and 2016 killed only one person total.