No Bumpers = Big Injuries (Airport Metal Motor Vehicle Mayhem)

Notice how there is no bumper on the back of this vehicle, this makes the truck more susceptible to damage and crashes.

Airport trucks with no bumpers can result in big injuries.

You may have noticed that many motorized vehicles zipping around the runways do not have bumpers like passenger cars. These luggage tugs, service vehicles, maintenance crew Cushman and other electrically powered devices are vital to efficient movement of jets on the Air Operations Area (“AOA”). However, when there is a rear-ender involving those vehicles, there is no way for them to absorb the energy of the impact. There is no bumper. Usually there is just a tow hitch, a metal plate, or just a steel shell.

In one case handled successfully by the ABRAMS LANDAU airport injury team, an airport maintenance worker was struck by a luggage tug, at high speed. The weight of all the luggage on the luggage tug, as well as solid steel construction, smashed into the maintenance worker’s small, electric vehicle. The force of the impact was not absorbed by any bumper or other soft surfaces. In fact, these vehicles are rarely equipped with airbags, interior cushions, or other devices to protect occupants from impact with the hard metal interior. This results in significant orthopedic crush injuries, such as fractures to the legs, wrists, and arms, as well as contusions, torn tendons, ruptured ligaments, and even deep lacerations.
Compare the bumper on this truck to the sheet metal shield on the tug. Notice how the extended, plastic covered bumper adds a preventative measure to protecting the vehicle.

When there is a motor vehicle crash on the Air Operations Area, it can often lead to permanent injury.  A lot of the luggage tugs and other vehicles are very heavy and very low to the ground. When they hit another vehicle that has a higher center of gravity, it can roll the vehicle, as well as cause unforeseen injury to the occupants.

With so much noise, wind, vibrations, and other distractions on the Air Operations Area, it is very hard for ground workers to get out of the way of fast moving vehicles. This is especially for the long vehicles, like the five or six carriage long luggage tugs or cargo plane container carriers. Sometimes, when reviewing the video surveillance of an accident at the airport, it does not appear that the vehicles are moving very quickly. However, momentum is mass times velocity; so even a very heavy object at slow speed can break bones, herniate discs in the back and neck, and cause deep contusions that can take a long time to heal.
If you or someone you know has experienced an injury at an airport or has any questions regarding airport law, please contact us at  or call (703) 796-9555.