Catch the last installment of the Los Angeles Times’ three-part series on U-Haul today, and be forewarned: you may never look at those orange-and-white trucks and trailers the same way again.
"Danger in Tow," by Alan C. Miller and Myron Levin, details a numbing litany of grizzly smashups and settled lawsuits to show that the company’s own policies have increased the risk of accidents. (The series ran Sunday, Monday and today.)
U-Haul’s responses to the Times didn’t always help. Some highlights:
* The company’s fleet includes small trailers without brakes, in conflict with the laws of 14 states, according to the paper. U-Haul’s chairman, Edward J. “Joe” Shoen, compared the state codes that mandate brakes with an old North Carolina law banning unmarried couples from cohabitating.
* U-Haul almost always blames accidents on the customer, but doesn’t always provide safety guides, the paper says. And there are no guides in Spanish. U-Haul’s Shoen says a guide en español is “a nice idea,” but “we don’t have a big demand for it.”
* One man, Art McCain, narrowly averted an accident only to find his unsteady U-Haul truck had missing lug nuts and inside rear tires so small they allegedly didn’t touch the ground. “Asked for comment, U-Haul said the truck was checked and found safe before McCain drove it. The company said it could not explain what happened.”
Perhaps the most colorful gem, however, comes near the end of the series’ final segment. To learn about the “internal document known as the ‘dumb shit’ memo,” you’ll have to read it yourself.