U-Haul, U-Swerve, U-Scream

Driving a U-Haul moving van is like getting a piggyback ride from Michael Moore. It’s bumpy, noisily, uncomfortable, pulls to the left, is difficult to maneuver, and has huge blind spots on both sides.

I just spent the past two days piloting one of these POS so I feel qualified to offer the following advice.

Forget the “when you assume” cliche  When you see a U-Haul vehicle on the road you should assume the following:

  • The driver is at least annoyed, possibly agitated, and probably outright pissed because his vehicle is very uncomfortable and there’s something wrong with it. (It’s a U-Haul, so something is broken.)
  • The driver is not familiar with the area, so he’s trying to find his way, either with a GPS that’s hard to hear above the truck’s rattling or maps that are blowing around the cab.
  • The driver’s experience controlling big cumbersome vehicles can be measured in hours.
  • And this is the most important assumption: The Driver, no matter how careful he is, can’t see you. The blind spots on these things are enormous, and they’re not helped by lose mirrors that flap in the wind.

I was schlepping boxes from Rhode Island to Connecticut over roads I’d never traveled. My first adventure happened a few minutes after picking up the beast. A motorcycle cut in front of me, and when I tried to slam the brakes I discovered the brake pedal, which is located considerably higher than it should be, is designed to catch your foot on the way up. I was able to stop a foot away from his back tire. Another second and the EMTs would have sent his remains home in a Tupperware bowl.

Adventure #2 happened after I had picked up a friend and we headed out for the long drive to get the boxes that needed schlepping. We were driving up an on-ramp where the road merged. I asked if the road to my right was clear. He checked and said yes, then, about five seconds later yelled “Watch Out!” I swerved to the left and an idiot zoomed by on my right. I missed him by inches.  Despite our double-checking we didn’t see him, and the idiot compounded the problem by deciding that passing a huge clumsy truck on the right with inches and moments to spare was a really good idea.

On the trip back it happened again, with a different idiot, who missed disaster by millimeters. If I hadn’t pulled to the right milliseconds after hearing my friend yell there would be one less idiot in the world, instantly converted to hamburger embedded in scrap metal. He would have deserved his closed coffin.

The moral of the story: For your safety and his, stay far, far away from any U-Haul moving van. And pity the poor guy driving it. He is not having a good day. That’s not an assumption, that’s a fact.

2 Comment(s)

  1. I can empathize with you. We moved my stuff cross-country in a 5X8′ U-haul trailer attached to the back of my little car. It wasn’t easy, particularly in the bad weather (it was November) and through the mountainous areas. And, of course, there were the hundreds of idiots who assume we should be able to maneuver as easily as they could and to stop on a dime.

    Sometimes I wonder how people manage to stay alive considering all the idiocy I see on the roads, and everywhere else.

    Kira | Apr 30, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’ve rented from Budget once and U-Haul twice. Believe it or not, U-Haul is the worst of those two evils.

    What really blew me away was how easy it was to rent one. When I stood there doing paperwork, I thought, Jesus, I can barely drive a pickup and they’re going to trust me with this 27-foot mammoth?

    Always pass on the insurance coverage they’ll try to sell you. It taints the adventure.

    Matt Murphy | Apr 30, 2010 | Reply

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