Every Major Moving Report of 2017 Analyzed: Where Is Everybody Going?

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Migration reports are out in full force, including the famous United Van Lines yearly report.

But while United handles more moves annually than any other mover network in the country, their numbers are not definitive across the industry board.

North American, Atlas and Allied all see slightly – and in some cases, wildly – different results in their migration study results. Not a surprise, because as a Full Service move provider, United handles a somewhat different clientele compared to companies like ABF, U-Haul and PODS – companies whose numbers might look a lot different. Then there’s that little thing called the Census.

Yep, the state-to-state migration numbers for 2017 are out – and folks, we have new inbound state championsHere are the results:

United Van Lines

Vermont Takes United 2017 Inbound Crown

In 2015 they came in at third on the inbound rankings. In 2016 they inched their way up to number two. Now, this tiny state known mainly for skiing and maple syrup has captured the coveted top inbound spot on United’s 2017 National Movers Study.

Yes, the champagne is indeed flowing like syrup in Stowe, Killington and Montpelier as Vermont looks back on a year that saw a whopping 68% of their interstate moves coming in. 

Reasons

According to United’s survey, “family” was the most common reason respondents gave for relocating to the Green Mountain State. Retirement, lifestyle and job also figured fairly evenly into the equation.

On the other hand, a full 75% of people moving out of state gave employment as their reason. This helps explain why half of all outbounders fell into the Under-35 age category – and another 25% were between 35 and 45 – while 40% of those moving into the state were 65 or older.

Those mountains may be green, but with those unemployment numbers, it looks like the valleys are starting to turn gray.

But before we start replacing all those ski lifts with wheelchair-friendly escalators, let’s take a step back and look a little closer at where the stats behind Vermont’s inbound crown come from. Keep in mind we don’t know how many moves Vermont actually saw by their report. (68% can be broken down to 17 inbound moves and 8 outbound moves – which hardly amounts to a mass migration to this land of wooden bridges and Bernie Sanders.)

Inbound:

1. Vermont
2. Oregon
3. Idaho
4. Nevada
5. South Dakota
6. Washington
7. South Carolina
8. North Carolina
9. Colorado
10. Alabama

This past year saw some familiar names on United’s Top Ten Inbound States list. Oregon, Nevada and North Carolina are all there, as they have been every year since 2011. Washington, Idaho, South Dakota, South Carolina and Arizona are also back after making 2016’s inbound list. Newcomers include Alabama and Colorado. Meanwhile, Florida has dropped off the inbound list after a strong three-year run.

This past year’s top inbound states are also fairly spread out around the country. The same cannot be said about United’s outbound states.

Outbound:

1. Illinois
2. New Jersey
3. New York
4. Connecticut
5. Kansas
6. Massachusetts
7. Ohio
8. Kentucky
9. Utah
10. Wisconsin

As with the previous few years, the major exodus seems to be coming out of the Northeast and the Midwest, with Utah adding a little “outbound yellow” to the otherwise blue western region on United’s interactive migration map.

Perennial outbound states New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois have been the most unfortunate ones; we’d have to go back to 2010 to see any of them as balanced. (New York and Connecticut were both spared the shame that year).

North American Moving Services

northamerican.com

Arizona Takes North Americans 2017 Inbound Crown

North American’s inbound champ is Arizona, with 67% of their interstate moves coming into the Grand Canyon State. Other top inbounders not on United’s list include Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and Texas – all south and southeast states. (Those North American drivers must really love the south.)

Inbound:

  1. Arizona
  2. Idaho
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee

Outbound:

  1. Illinois
  2. Connecticut
  3. New Jersey
  4. California
  5. Michigan

Like United, North American has Illinois, New Jersey and Connecticut at the top of their outbound list (with New York a notable #8). But the rest of their top outbounders – California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Maryland (#4-8 on the map) aren’t even on United’s radar.

Interestingly, North American’s #10 outbounder is Washington, which ranks #6 on United’s inbound list.

In accounting for these discrepancies, it is worth noting what North American says of their report’s methodology:

We define the top inbound and outbound states as those that have the highest proportion of moves where the absolute value difference of inbound and outbound moves is greater than or equal to 400. This weeds out states that had a small number of moves but would have a high ratio of inbound/outbound moves.”

This may explain why United’s 2017 champ Vermont and #5 South Dakota (United’s #1 in 2016 by the way) aren’t anywhere on North American’s Top Ten.

Atlas Van Lines

atlasvanlines.com

Washington Takes Atlas 2017 Inbound Crown

Atlas Van Lines offers some relative surprises too. Idaho, Washington and Nevada as their top three inbounders may not raise any eyebrows. But Alaska, Maine and New Hampshire at #5, #6 and #10? Oregon is a familiar name, but seeing them at #8 seems in contrast to their recent United Van Lines inbound championships.

Atlas’s top outbounder, meanwhile, is Illinois (same as both United and North American – those Fighting Illini have a real stranglehold on that top spot!). And their #2, West Virginia, was a strong outbounder for United for six years straight before balancing out in 2017.

But Nebraska at #3? Nebraska has been balanced for United since 2001! And #4 outbounder South Dakota has been an inbound darling for United the past three years.

Rounding out the Atlas top outbound list are Hawaii, Indiana, Delaware and Louisiana, all of them somewhat surprising since three of them have spent the last ten years on United’s “balanced” register. Only Indiana has managed to make a blip on United’s outbound radar in that time frame.

Inbound:

  1. Idaho
  2. Washington
  3. Nevada
  4. Tennessee
  5. Alaska
  6. Maine
  7. North Carolina
  8. Oregon
  9. Alabama
  10. New Hampshire

Outbound:

  1. Illinois
  2. West Virginia
  3. Nebraska
  4. South Dakota
  5. Hawaii
  6. Indiana
  7. Delaware
  8. New York
  9. Louisiana
  10. Kansas

In contrast to the percentages United and North American provide, Atlas gives actual numbers of inbound and outbound moves for each state. Here we see that Vermont has seen just a fraction of the moves so many other states see, so it’s easy to imagine why they wouldn’t have made it onto North American’s list. (Meanwhile, once again, Canada’s Yukon Territory has seen zero moves. We’ll blame it on the roads.)

Allied Van Lines

allied.com

Florida Takes Allied 2017 Inbound Crown

Allied Van Lines keeps it all very short and sweet. They report only their top fives:

Inbound:

  1. Florida
  2. Arizona
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Texas

Outbound:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. New Jersey
  5. Michigan

Based on this limited report, we’re able to come to at least one solid conclusion: Allied’s drivers love moving people south even more than North American’s do.

U-Haul

Texas Takes U-Haul 2017 Inbound Crown

Because news outlets predominately focus on Full Service van lines, it can easily be argued this eliminates an entire sector of the migrating public. (In fact, Full Service van lines actually conduct less than half of all moves performed in the US every year.)

Do U-Haul’s numbers reflect what the van lines suggest are moving trends?

Nope.

Inbound:

  1. Texas
  2. Florida
  3. Arkansas
  4. South Carolina
  5. Tennessee
  6. Washington
  7. North Carolina
  8. Connecticut
  9. Colorado
  10. Vermont

Outbound:

  1. California
  2. Illinois
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Michigan
  5. Massachusetts
  6. New Jersey
  7. New York
  8. Arizona
  9. Maryland
  10. Georgia

Texas tops U-Haul’s 2017 Growth States list. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, as Texas has fared well recently in the inbound-outbound game. In 2017 their inbound percentages with United, North American and Atlas were 54, 53 and 53, while Allied put Texas down as their fifth biggest inbound state.

Oddly, Texas won U-Haul’s Growth State crown by bringing in – get this – a whopping 50.3% of all one-way truck rental traffic crossing Texas’s borders. That’s right. Fifty. Point. Three.

This hardly lends a whole lot more understanding to the migration trends we’re trying to dissect. But here we are, so let’s keep moving.

U-Haul rounds out its top five Growth States with Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee. Yes, Arkansas – which has been balanced on United’s report 37 of the last 40 years. Then again, Arkansas remained balanced in 2017 on United’s ledger with a 54% outbound rate, so that they are U-Haul’s #3 Growth State is rather surprising no matter how minuscule their positive U-Haul balance might have been.

And who comes in at #8 on U-Haul’s list? That big loser with United and North American (but not with Atlas), Connecticut.

On the flip side, U-Haul has Colorado at #9 – exactly where United and North American have them.

United States Census Bureau

Idaho Takes United States Census Bureau 2017 Inbound Crown

Yes, the Bureau has all the moving numbers we could possibly want. So many, in fact, that it could take until next January to weed through them all.

But thanks to Business Insider we don’t have to.

In this piece with the strangely long title: While the Bureau considers “a variety of components” in determining what’s happening among the more than 325 million people who make up the US population, Business Insider brings us what we need: domestic migration.

Here we see the net population gain or loss for each state for 2017. Births, deaths and international immigration are not counted; this is simply and strictly an account of how many people moved into or out of each state. (Again, not moves, but individual people.)

Inbound:

  1. Idaho
  2. Nevada
  3. South Carolina
  4. Oregon
  5. Arizona
  6. Washington
  7. Montana
  8. Florida
  9. Colorado
  10. North Carolina

And in this, the winner is Idaho, with a net domestic migration gain of 14.6 people per 1,000 residents. In second place comes Nevada, with South Carolina, Oregon and Arizona rounding out the top five. The second half of the big ten winners are Washington, Montana, Florida, Colorado and North Carolina.

These results actually mirror the van lines’ findings to a striking degree. Only Arizona, Montana and Florida don’t show up in United’s top ten. Seven of the Census top ten are also on North American’s top ten. Unbelievably, Colorado is #9 on all three lists.

As for the Net Domestic Migration losers? Yes, Illinois is up there, but at #5, maybe this is the survey they should be talking about in Chicago.

Outbound:

  1. Wyoming
  2. Alaska
  3. New York
  4. Hawaii
  5. Illinois
  6. North Dakota
  7. New Jersey
  8. Connecticut
  9. Louisiana
  10. West Virginia

The big loser in the 2017 migration tournament is Wyoming, a surprise since the Equality State doesn’t show up on any van line outbound lists – or inbound for that matter. United had them at 53% inbound for 2017. North American had them at 54% in. Only Atlas has them as outbound – based on a grand total of 330 moves.

The Bureau’s next three biggest net migration losers are Alaska, New York and Hawaii. Alaska and Hawaii, neither of which show up anywhere for United or North American, are Atlas’s #5 inbound and #5 outbound, respectively. North Dakota, New Jersey, Connecticut, Louisiana and West Virginia complete the Bureau’s top ten.

Again, while there are outbound wild cards, we still see some consistency between the Bureau and the van lines. Atlas and the Bureau actually have seven migration losers in common between their top tens. Looking at the US Census Bureau’s Net Domestic Migration map we can clearly see the winners clustered in the south and west with the losers dominating the northeast and midwest.

What’s The Takeaway?

Remember, the numbers put together by each of the van lines represent the migration trends among the customers they’ve served. Van lines count moves, the Bureau counts people.

This may not account for the reason United’s inbound champion Vermont is somehow a net loser according to the Census Bureau’s numbers, but it does suggest that, despite the discrepancies, the van lines and the Census Bureau can give a decent overall on what is going on out there.

But in the cases where data remains too contradictory to be meaningful, evaluating regions rather than individual states might give us a slightly more reliable picture of the migration trends playing out across the US. At the end of the day, we are only looking at a mere slice of the American migratory pie.

There’s More Realistic Data Out There

We need another, more encompassing way to look at where America is moving to and from.

DIY Moves and Hybrid Moves (besides U-Haul), which by far and away are the more common ways to move, are sorely misrepresented. When you move, do you routinely call up $2,000+ movers? Have you ever saved money by having your friends move you? What are these Full Service reports actually reflecting?

That’s something to keep in mind when the local news sounds off on “moving trends” based off a single Full Service Moving company’s report. 

6 Reasons Why Planning Your Summer Move in the Winter Saves You Money

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My wife thought I was nuts. It was only the end of February, but I was already hauling in piles of used boxes so I could start planning my move. “We’re not moving until the end of June!” she cried, visions in her head of sleeping on the floor between stacks of cardboard boxes, I guess.

I told her I knew what I was doing and disappeared into the basement. And in fact, I did.

There are plenty of understandable reasons not to start planning your move four months ahead of time. But those reasons don’t seem so smart when you suddenly realize you’re moving in three days. 

If you’re looking to move sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day (along with about 20 million other people) you have even more reason to get a jump-start on things. These are the most practical reasons why.

Researching the Right Things

There is one major reason people end up with crappy movers – or in some cases end up getting scammed by people posing as movers: They didn’t do their homework before hiring them.

What does “homework” mean?

  • Find and read real reviews on your local moving company
  • Look up a moving company’s Better Business Bureau rating
  • Research if a mover is a legally registered transporter of household goods

Particularly if you are moving in the summer (seriously, literally millions and millions of people move between June and August), you want to give yourself time not only to find the right movers – i.e., movers who will treat you right – but you don’t want to miss out on hiring the movers that would have been perfect for you because somebody beat you to it. If you think hiring movers could be expensive, you should see how much hiring bad movers could end up costing you …

You might love our:

Moving Cost Calculator

If the quote from your movers felt expensive …
Make sure it lines up with the costs reported by other Americans.

And true, you may not know several months in advance exactly what day you’ll be moving. But don’t wait until a week before you’ve written “Moving!” on your calendar to start doing your homework. Get on it!

Your Sales-Rep Walk-Through

As the summer approaches, moving company sales representatives are just as busy as movers. Sometimes they’re even busier. But having a grasp of what you need ahead of time will prevent from your two-hour move turning into a six-hour one.

Conventional wisdom says you should get at least three in-home estimates if you want an estimate you can be fairly confident in. If you wanted to be absolutely thorough by price and quality, you not only need to find three solid moving companies, you need to find times that work for their three sales reps and for you. The closer you are to move day, the busier you will be. The closer it is to summer the busier they will be.

The good thing is, you don’t have to know when you’re moving to get your estimate.

You do, however, have to know what you will be moving. Of course, you can make some changes down the road if need be. Just be sure to communicate these changes ahead of time, not on move day!

Protip: Your sales rep might notice things you wouldn’t even think about, like the fact that the big office desk you assembled in the spare room isn’t going to fit out the door, or that your massive fish tank will probably need to be crated.

Having the luxury of time to get these unexpected extras taken care of may prove to be a lifesaver.

Creating a Rapport With Your Mover

If you want to be efficient, you don’t want a bunch of perplexed strangers showing up on moving day.

While you won’t have much to worry about if you hire movers through HireAHelper (after 70,000 5-star reviews, we can say things like that), getting to know each other before the actual move day creates a good vibe for both parties. More than this, having time to ask questions and bring up concerns helps your movers prepare for the job ahead. 

By the same token, you can expect your movers to be as busy as you are in the lead-up to your move. Say hello, let them know what you need, let them know you appreciate it, and then step back and let them do their thing. 

Likely a Better Rate

We can’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll end up paying more if you hire your movers in the middle of May rather than the middle of March, but we are dead-certain you won’t save yourself any money by waiting until the last minute to book your movers. Unless of course the only movers left available are sketchy guys with a string of bad reviews. 

If you’re a couple months ahead of the game you’ll likely also get a much better deal on your rental truck. And your chances of nailing down the right size truck for your move also goes way up. (If you do find yourself having trouble scoring a rental truck check the tips we offer in this post.)

Get Help Loading Your U-Haul Truck

See prices for movers by the hour – instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

Avoiding Last-Minute Expenses

As move day approaches you’ll be going absolutely nuts tackling a thousand last-minute tasks, from canceling utilities to meeting with your landlord/realtor, to cleaning your apartment well enough to get your deposit back to getting all that non-perishable food to the soup kitchen. It will be in these final frenzied hours and days that you’ll be glad you got a three-month head start.

Packing Costs and Timing

Even if you book your movers (and your rental truck) early, if you have a decent amount of stuff and you’re moving a fair distance, you’re going to have to shell out a good chunk of change for

That’s simply the nature of the beast.

Protip: But while there may be nothing you can do about how far you have to move, you just might feel extra motivated to lighten your load by getting rid of all the stuff you know you don’t really need. (You might also feel a sudden urge to save some bucks by packing up the entire house yourself. Both are easier when you have a bigger window to work in.)

We do guarantee, by the way, that once you start packing, you’ll realize that you have about three times as much stuff as you thought and it’s going to take you quadruple the time.

Yep, if you’re like me, you’ll likely be so tired that you’ll have no problem sleeping on the floor between those stacks of cardboard boxes. But just to be safe, pack your bed last.

In Australia, Development of Self-Driving Vehicles Being Slowed by Kangaroos

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The drive to develop automated vehicles, “AV” for short, has gone into high gear this past year. From the US to Europe to Asia, AV technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. But in one place the road to automation has taken an interesting turn.

Recognition Technology

A huge factor in the production of safe automatic vehicles involves the development of reliable recognition technology. Vehicles need to be able to distinguish which objects in front of them are hazards (like pedestrians) and which are not (think tumbleweed). A major function of recognition technology, then, is to focus on the shape and movement of various potential hazards to determine what they are – and that has brought advancements in AVs recognizing animals like deer, elk, and moose. (We’re not sure about rabbits and chipmunks.)

But in Australia engineers seem to be stumped by one of their own: the kangaroo.

Our friends over at Marketplace explain that “Kangaroos are much trickier – faster and more shape-shifting – than other animals that wander onto the road.” Deer and moose are big and generally move slowly, adds University of Washington computer scientist Pedro Domingos, making them easy for a vehicle’s vision system to recognize them as such.

Kangaroos, on the other hand, jump across the road much more quickly, keeping low and essentially changing shape as they hop, which makes it harder for the vehicle’s computer vision system to understand that “Yes, this is a kangaroo and not a wind-blown plastic bag.”

Of all animal-related accidents in Australia, eighty percent involve kangaroos. Kangaroo-recognition, then, is a critical aspect of automated vehicle technology.

That’s the challenge in Australia, anyway. Here in the States, our engineers are scratching their heads wondering how to deal with all the direction-changing squirrels in the road.

Maybe our engineering issues will be easier to overcome.

How Far Away Are Self Driving Vehicles? (And Where Do Moving Trucks Fit In?)

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Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology is no longer just “the future”. Today, bringing self-driving vehicles from car shows to the streets is a full-on race for competing companies in the US and abroad.

Earlier this year, we reported about Otto, the self-driving vehicle maker that moved from the warehouse to the highway with their breakthrough autonomous truck. It delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser from Fort Collins, Colorado down to Colorado Springs with nobody driving it.

Some would argue that the cargo should have been something more significant or important, but (a) for some, there is nothing more important than beer, while (b) for others, in the event something should go wrong, losing a truckload of beer is a lot less significant than losing a truckload of someone’s belongings. Or million-dollar medical machines. Or even really good craft beer.

Regardless of the cargo, now that it’s been proven doable, the race is on! But before we get to how this impacts trucks, there is a significant and important history to detail about the AV industry.

And yes, there’s a legislative sideshow going on that will decide who gets to be on the starting line.

Safety First

Of the estimated 40,000 traffic fatalities in the US last year (yes, that’s four zeros!), roughly 94 percent of the crashes involved human error.

Simply put, we the people are doing a horrendous job behind the wheel. Replacing us error-prone humans with machines that don’t make mistakes, the reasoning goes, will put a huge dent in the number of traffic accidents that occur in the US each year. And the sooner, the better.

7 Embarrassing Lessons

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

Lessons I, Kevin The Mover, learned during my earliest days on the job through the mistakes of others (and my own).

US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, in introducing the NHTSA’s revised guidelines for autonomous vehicle development, said self-driving cars could also help the blind and disabled – perhaps acknowledging that the technology would not only increase the level of safety for such drivers but would also give them a higher level of independence.

That’s something that is hard if not impossible to measure.

Interestingly, Chao doesn’t see the value in limiting development and testing to established automobile manufacturers—in other words, he thinks the companies with a known capacity for designing for commercial gain shouldn’t do it all. From the Scribd self-driving guideline book:

States should not place unnecessary burdens on competition and innovation by limiting ADS testing or deployment to motor vehicle manufacturers only…No data suggests that experience in vehicle manufacturing is an indicator of the ability to safely test or deploy vehicle technology [emphasis mine]. All entities that meet Federal and State law prerequisites for testing or deployment should have the ability to operate in the State.

That last bit – “entities that meet Federal and State law prerequisites” – may hope to keep this race from turning into a free-for-all. But again, these are just guidelines. Strong suggestions, maybe. But not laws by any definition. That, we can expect, is already beginning.

The Feds Take the Wheel

self-driving trucks

Last September, the U.S. House of Representatives made a bold move by unanimously voting to put the development of self-driving cars in the hands of federal regulators, not the states.

On the surface, this may seem like just another instance of federal bureaucracy getting in the way, but by cutting off the states’ authority to prohibit autonomous vehicles, the feds are actually hoping to speed up the process of making autonomous drive technology part of the everyday.

In other words, instead of 50 roadblocks, there’s only one.

As Reuters reports, “The House measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year.”

Wait a minute! Without meeting existing safety standards?!

The States Have a Say

That does sound rather concerning. But as US News & World Report explains that point, the proposal put forth by the House would

give the federal government the authority to exempt automakers from safety standards that don’t apply to autonomous technology [emphasis mine]. If a company can prove it can make a safe vehicle with no steering wheel, for example, the federal government could approve that. But generally speaking, manufacturers seeking these particular safety exemptions must demonstrate that their self-driving cars are at least as safe as existing vehicles.

A car is a car is a car, as far as the government is concerned. As it concerns self-driving cars, however, Reuters adds, “The House bill would require automakers to add a driver alert to check rear seating in an effort to prevent children from being left behind.” (This may or not be bolstered with a device to stop anyone who would forget their child is in the car from ever driving again.)

Furthermore, this bill does not put states entirely in the back seat when it comes to motor vehicle regulation. Registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections would all still be set by the individual states.

Yep, only performance standards would have to pass through federal review.

States will still have some authority to regulate the eventual use of autonomous vehicles, like requiring a human to be present on any self-driving vehicle. But states are “encouraged not to pass laws that would throw barriers in front of testing and use.”

Disagreement Among Administrations

self-driving trucks

As US News tells us,

Under the Obama administration automakers were asked to follow a 15-point safety assessment before putting test vehicles on the road. The new guidelines reduce that to a 12-point voluntary assessment, asking automakers to consider things like cybersecurity, crash protection, how the vehicle interacts with occupants and the backup plans if the vehicle encounters a problem. They no longer ask automakers to think about ethics or privacy issues or share information beyond crash data, as the previous guidelines did.

That the present administration is not interested in the ethics of the industry is an issue that we will steer clear of.

We will instead add the sentiments of Mitch Bainwol, head of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, who says the guidelines, which are policy, not law, provide a “streamlined, flexible system to accommodate the development and deployment of new technologies.” 

This stands in contrast to critics who suggest these guidelines don’t go far enough to ensure the safety of vehicles being put out on the road. David Friedman, director of car and product policy analysts for Consumer Union, warns that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “needs to be empowered to protect consumers against new hazards that may emerge, and to ensure automated systems work as they’re supposed to without placing consumers at risk.”

Clearly, the autonomous vehicle industry is at the crossroads of safety and economics.

Business: Anything But Usual

The race to get AV technology to the market is more than just selling cars alone. As FTI Communications puts it,

The automotive revenue pool could reach $1.5 trillion by 2030…this in part because AVs will likely have an impact that extends far beyond the automotive industry, into sectors such as insurance, tech, logistics, cybersecurity, delivery services, public sector infrastructure and tourism, to name a few. 

In other words, this has the potential to change economics as we know it. But since the NHTSA has established nothing more than non-binding, non-legal guidelines for the industry, there remains a significant degree of confusion about how to proceed at both state and private levels.

Add to this the current administration’s apparent appetite for growth in traditional manufacturing jobs, including manually driven cars, and we have a recipe for sluggish progress in what could be the greatest advancement in transportation since the invention of the combustion engine, maybe even the wheel.

As far as our industry is concerned, the question remains…

Autonomous Trucks: Now or Later?

self-driving trucksAs the subject of self-driving trucks is not addressed in the NHTSA’s guidelines or the aforementioned House bill, the development, testing and implementation of AV technology for transport trucks of all types have by default been left up to individual states (hence, Colorado’s beer delivery experiment).

Speaking in general terms, Michigan Senator Gary Peters states that “the House bill will facilitate the safe development and adoption of self-driving cars, reduce existing regulatory barriers and establish new regulatory framework.”

He does, however, refer to conversations he has had involving the prospects of self-driving trucks raise a very different set of issues from self-driving cars.

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As we are told, “The Michigan senator…did find some opposition to the idea of pushing freight legislation off to a later date to instead focus more intently on autonomous passenger vehicles.”

One of those opposed was American Trucking Association CEO Chris Spear. Besides issues like cybersecurity, infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication, Spear makes the valid point that since autonomous passenger cars will eventually be sharing the road with freight trucks anyway, these and other issues should be answered for commercial and passenger vehicles at the same time.

“Our industry cannot be subject to a patchwork of conflicting state rules,” US News quotes Spear as he advocates for the federal government to pursue some sort of overarching freight standards that wouldn’t vary state to state.

Compliance with multiple state regimes would be very disruptive to the economy, to these companies, and I think it would be a jobs issue over time if we’re not able to move freight in a productive way, in a safe way and, obviously, in a profitable way.

But Spear does concede that while autonomous cars will likely be hitting the road very soon, autonomous tractor trailer technology is still “decades away” and “not in the foreseeable future.”

To this, Spear said he’s not worried about truckers losing their jobs to technology anytime soon. “We have a 50,000-driver shortage as it stands,” he reminds us. Navistar President and CEO agrees, joking that freight companies “already have driverless trucks, but that’s because they have trouble recruiting and retaining drivers.”

The Space Race of Our Industry, In a Nutshell

There’s a wealth of automotive technology coming out, a lot of it from right here in the United States. But a failure to put the proverbial pedal to the metal could result in missed opportunities for the US to stake its claim at the forefront of the industry.

It could also delay the implementation of autonomous technologies that ultimately could make American roadways safer.

“Whether it’s data-sharing, testing protocols, engagement of all of the right stakeholders – these are all issues that we need to begin to discuss,” says Deborah Hersman, CEO of the National Safety Council and former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

If the trucking sector is left on the side of the road while these discussions progress, it will be even longer before our industry begins to see the safety, as well as the economic benefits, of autonomous vehicle technology.

And because of all that, it may be a long time before you or any other company waves goodbye to your cargo being driven away by a moving truck.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

Thieves Bring Dark Times to Two Sunny State Movers

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As movers, our first priority is making sure the belongings our customers entrust us with remain safe. We lock our trucks and our warehouse doors and chain up the gate.

But just as important as protecting our customers’ goods is protecting our own stuff—namely, our trucks.

Sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

A U-Haul center in the paradise of Hawaii has fallen victim to not one, not a couple, but dozens of instances of vandalism and theft this year. Kaleo Alau, owner of the U-Haul center, tells Hawaii News Now that the accused perpetrators, homeless individuals living under a nearby viaduct, have smashed windows, stolen batteries, siphoned gas and even lit a fire, causing thousands in damage and lost business.

It’s something that’s very hard to catch,” says Alau. “They have lookouts on one side who will warn people when a car is coming. There is a place to jump in the water and swim away which has happened before when they got caught.”

So what about security cameras? They might help—though not if your perpetrators know they are there.

That was the case in Hollywood, Florida, where two men scoped out the lot of the North American Moving Company before moving in and stealing ten wheels off two trucks, leaving the rigs sitting on wooden blocks as they rolled the stolen tires under a fence and into their white van. (It’s always a white van, isn’t it?)

Security camera footage shows the men hiding their faces with pieces of cardboard from whichever cameras they hadn’t already disabled or turned toward the sky. Moving company owner Gary Manning noted that these guys knew exactly what they were doing. “These weren’t just two guys walking off the street,” he added.

Unfortunately, these guys are still walking the streets. More evidence if there ever was some to keep your equipment as secure as you possibly can.

How Much Will Your Move Cost? Here’s How to Figure it Out

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So how much does a move cost? It all depends. Years of moving experience shows that customers typically fall into one of three categories:

  • Gazillionaire
  • Employee relocating on the company’s dime
  • Confused soul wondering aloud, “Good gosh, how much is this going to cost me?”

As you probably guessed, most of us are the third one. AMSA, the American Moving and Storage Association, tells us the average in-state move costs $1,170, while interstate moves average $5,630. But take that with a grain of salt, because the real answer lies is in the details of your specific move—from off-base estimates to logistical issues, from slower-than-syrup movers to incidental expenses, all big and small.

So how is it possible to even come close to predicting the final number so we don’t go into shock when we’re handed the bill?

Some things are out of our control, but there are definitely things you can do and look out for to make the moment we get that final bill pleasantly unsurprising.

The Baseline Cost of Moves

These are the basic questions you need to ask ahead of a move:

  • Are you getting a Full-Service moving company to handle everything?
  • Are you renting your own truck, then hiring moving labor separately?
  • Are you doing everything yourself?

These are known as the three basic ways to move: A Hybrid Move, a Full-Service Move, and a DIY Move.

How much do movers cost?

Getting a Full-Service Move? That means the movers load, unload, and drive the vehicle all on their own. The estimate? Though it will largely depend on the distance traveled and volume of the move, Full-Service Moves run north of $1,500-$2,000, on average, and sometimes can be more expensive if it’s a really big move.

Hybrid Moves, on the other hand, separate moving labor from moving vehicle. That means you hire a mover to load and/or unload your stuff, then rent the moving truck on your own, saving you a lot of money. Roughly, the cost can run anywhere between $300-$1,000 for a truck and movers, occasionally more.

What’s the cost difference between a long distance and local move?

Local or state move? You’re looking at roughly anywhere between $100 to $300 for the moving truck, depending on the size needed and after accounting for mileage and insurance fees.

Moving long distance? Like, across the country? This will likely cost around $1,000 after gas and fees, plus potentially lodging and food.

As for local movers, prices vary dramatically based on scheduling and location. Moving during a busy summer is just going to cost more than during the dead of winter. Movers’ hourly rates also vary, depending on the size and distance of your move.

Here are some generalized queries on price ranges for “2 Helpers for 2 hours”, taken straight from HireAHelper.com:

  • Boston, Massachusetts: $250-$350
  • Austin, Texas: $200-$300
  • Baton Rouge, Louisiana.: $300-$400
  • Los Angeles, California: $250-$400

Of course, some movers do charge more, or sometimes less. Check out our movers’ reviews, give a few of them a call, get some estimates, and then go with who you feel best about.

You might love our:

Moving Cost Calculator

If the quote from your movers felt expensive …
Make sure it lines up with the costs reported by other Americans.

Finally, there’s the DIY Move, which hides plenty of hidden costs, such as:

  • Gasoline
  • Power tools
  • Moving supplies
  • Pizza and beer
  • Heavy stress

Not to mention what it does to close friendships and schedules. You can get away with casually moving a bedroom with some friends, but let’s just say that in the past, I wish I had spent a couple hundred bucks to have had total peace of mind for those really stressful moves. As a mover, I recognize I am biased, but I am also just a person who has moved many, many times—just like you.

Why do random internet searches for movers cost more?

Moving estimations are rarely conservative. That’s because it’s dreadful to be ill-equipped and strapped for time, versus the other way around.

No matter which one you choose, having someone come out and do a thorough visual of your place and all your belongings can be an extra useful way to get the most reliable estimate of how much your move will cost, as it’s an estimate based on time needed.

Getting an estimate over the phone? That’s cool, but keep these two things in mind:

First, if someone can’t see all the things you want moved, no matter how pure their intentions, it is ultimately a guesstimate.

Why should I avoid “move brokers”?

Secondly, unfortunately, it’s a very real possibility that the “moving company” you quickly searched for on the internet is actually just a move broker.

That’s another term for a middleman who will assure you that they can give you an accurate quote – which will sound too good to be true – then sell your move to the highest bidder. That person will then come out (most likely in a rental truck) and load up your stuff … before telling tell you that your final bill will be a lot higher than you were originally told.

It happens every single day. Don’t let it happen to you.

That’s why after 20 plus years of experience moving people, I write for HireAHelper, a moving labor marketplace. All the movers are real movers with real reviews, which means absolutely zero of them are move brokers. Everyone here is the real deal.

Get a Quote

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See prices for local moving labor. Read real customer reviews. Easily book your help online.

Still, marketplace or not, keep in mind that the more stuff you have, the more important it is to get an in-person estimate so your movers can give you a good idea of how many people you’ll need for how many hours.

Extra, Hidden Mover Costs

How much stuff you have isn’t the only thing that determines the cost of your move. Here are some other important factors that some moving companies take into consideration when giving quotes:

  • If the path from your door to the truck involves stairs or an elevator
  • If the distance from your door to where the truck will be parked is particularly long (meaning 75 feet or more)
  • If your movers can’t get their tractor-trailer anywhere near your place and they have to use a smaller truck to shuttle your stuff from your driveway to the big rig
  • If you have any (or a lot of) heavy, bulky or unusual items, like pool tables or gun safes

All or some combination of these will likely bring your quote up. This is another reason an in-person estimate is important. But if you do find yourself having to give movers a run-down of your stuff over the phone, be sure to let them know the lay of the land so no one ends up surprised. Also, don’t forget to potentially tip your movers.

Total: 

Local Hybrid Move: ~$350+

Local Full-Service Move: ~$700+

Long Distance Hybrid Move: ~$1,300+

Long Distance Full Service Move: ~$2,000+

Optional, Accidental and Potentially Hefty Costs

There are some potentially optional costs that can add up quickly.

Packing Costs

Doing your own packing? Be aware that boxes can get expensivea couple of bucks a pop on average.

Meanwhile, packing paper goes for around $30 per 25-pound bundle, and box tape runs at minimum a dollar per roll.

Thinking of using bubble wrap? Plan on dropping anywhere from $20-$50 a shot.

You’ll save some cash by doing your own packing, but your packing supplies can run you a couple hundred bucks, at least.

Total:

Moving boxes: ~$0-25

Packing supplies: ~$35-75

Packing help: ~$75-100

Rental Trucks

Renting a truck? You may find one for $20 or $30 or $50 a day, but gas, tolls, equipment rental, liability insurance, mileage charges and any fees included in the fine print of your rental agreement add up fast. Plus, obviously, the bigger the truck you need, the more it’ll cost. Not to mention, some days are busier than others (e.g., holidays, weekends, etc.), and you’ll get charged more for a last second rental. (Read this rental truck guide for more info.)

If you are moving long-distance, you also need to factor in food and lodging. And by the way, if you’re driving that truck, how are you going to get your car to your new home? All of this basically means one thing: get a quote on a moving truck early

Total: 

Local (or daily) moving truck: ~$75-300+

Long distance moving truck: ~$1,000-5,000+

How much does insurance cost?

Planning on getting your stuff insured? Full-service moving companies offer free basic coverage against loss or damage, equaling 60 cents per pound for any lost or damaged item. If you are okay with getting fifteen bucks in return for your newly-smashed flat screen TV, then this is the plan for you. That’s called valuation, not insurance.

If you want to be actually insured, you’ll want to consider paying for coverage that actually means something—which will cost you a percentage of what your stuff is worth in total.

 

What Moving Insurance Actually Does

(And why it might not help you!)

Total:

Insurance cost is completely relative to the item you insure (as well as how far you take it). Taken from MovingInsurance.com FAQ:

The cost of the insurance, or premium, is based on a proportional rate, relevant to the declared value of your shipment and the level of deductible you have chosen, and includes an administrative fee. Rates vary depending on your insurance type as well as based on your household goods’ final destination, whether be locally, out of state or internationally.

Storage and Lodging

And if your new home isn’t ready when you are? This unfortunate possibility comes with having to shell out more cash for the extra time your stuff has to sit on the moving truck, the extra time you have to hold onto your rental truck, or the storage space you have to rent until your home is finally ready for you. You might not include such expenses in your moving budget, but be aware of the potential for things to go wrong. There’s even the hotel cost if you’re moving for more than a day.

And what if you don’t get your life all packed up on time? You’ll have to hire packers last-minute. Obviously, this situation is entirely avoidable. All you have to do is make a careful and calculated estimate as to how long it will take you to pack everything. Then whatever time frame you come up with, multiply by two and a half. (Seriously.)

Total: 

Storage container costs depend on their size and distance driven. Taken from Moving101:

You can move locally or long distance, but moving containers are more affordably suited to local moves of small houses or apartments…mostly because you need to rent out more than one container for larger homes, which raises the fee. And the costs associated with the company driving the container long distance (read: paying the driver, fuel, insurance, etc.) all pile onto your bill, but then again, you’re not driving that massive truck 2,000 miles in 110-degree heat. Tradeoffs. Prices range from just under $500 for a local move (with the largest container) to more than $5,000 for a long-distance move (with two of the largest containers).

Incidental Costs

After moving people day in and day out for decades, I’ve heard everything under the sun when it comes to random moving costs the customers weren’t expecting. But the thing is, they almost are never random, just unexpected. The list of sometimes surprising incidental costs include:

  • Restocking your pantry/kitchen, and replacing items you got rid of
  • Paying deposits on utilities, cable, and public services at your new home
  • Sucking up any cancellation fees or broken contract penalties for things like cable, phone and health club membership
  • Repairing damage in your old home – or losing your security deposit if you don’t
  • Changing your driver’s license and car registration
  • Running a credit check to pass along to your new landlord and new utility companies
  • Picking up all the little things you need for your new home: light bulbs, shower curtain, shades/curtains for the windows, cleaning supplies because you used up and wore out everything cleaning your old place so you could get at least some of your security deposit back
  • Getting socked with penalties for being late paying bills because your mail didn’t get forwarded promptly, or you missed a bill altogether

Apartment Costs

Also, are you renting a new apartment? Obviously, don’t forget you have a security deposit as well as first and last months’ rent to shell out. Those can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to the value of the entire month’s rent. Buying a new home? That’s another topic altogether, but with that comes closing costs, realtor fees, appraisal costs, inspection fees, attorney fees and more. Yay!

Long-term Costs

There’s another part to this incidental list, which includes moving costs that are repeating or more long-term in nature.

  • Does parking cost where you live, and how much?
  • What are the average car and health insurance rates in your new state?
  • With your new home will you be subjected to building maintenance fees? Property fees? Homeowners’ association fees? Do you have to buy special trash and recycling bins?

That’s a lot of stuff to take into account, huh?

Figuring out what your own move will cost is all about specifics, not averages. So get that in-person estimate (more than one, if you are able). Use a moving cost calculator. Find a deal on a reliable rental truck (and remember to read the fine print). Check out rates for coverage against damage. Keep an eye on all those incidental charges and keep a list of things you’ll need at your new place.

And please, leave yourself plenty of time to pack!


Illustrations by Vicki Tsai

Meet the World’s Most Expensive Movers

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Tired of hearing about how expensive it is to move? “Why is there a charge for shrink wrap?” “I shouldn’t have to buy more boxes, you guys should fit everything in the ones out in the garage!” “What do you mean furniture pads aren’t free?!”

Well, believe it or not, there is a cure for these experiences. Their names are Stephanie, Sara and Cassio, and apparently, they are more than happy to pay all kinds of extra charges for what they are being told is a “white-glove move”.

Courtesy of the New York Times, here are some examples of what this white glove mover service in New York City is willing to help you out with.

  • $150 extra per move for a special “low-noise” box tape: For people who “don’t like the screeching sound of regular packing tape.” (Bonus guarantee: If the low-noise tape runs out, someone will hold their white-gloved hands over your poor delicate ears for you.)
  • $180 per hour (!) to figure out your move: That means they’ll do “…everything from taking an inventory of your home, to creating a budget and interviewing moving companies.” (Just don’t expect them to lift anything heavier than a pair of white gloves.)
  • $200 for a ride to your new home: Because, my god, have you ever seen how dirty a cabbies hands can get?
  • $500 per day to call the cable and gas companies to inform them of your new address: Yup, someone out there will pay you 500 clams to be put on hold for you.

To prove that people are willing to toss their money around like this, the Times also offers a few quotes, including a couple beauties from private citizen Stephanie:

“As with many of us,” says Stephanie, “my moves have often been hideous experiences.” (My god! They’re not even wearing white gloves!)

This type of service is “extremely helpful,” she continues. “Not like having boxes in a dark basement that are stuffed with 50 dining room dishes and a lampshade.” 

Pamela Muller, co-owner of NouvelleView, the company in question that specializes in suckering customers into thinking they can’t handle an address change, says her firm will “oversee every aspect, from the initial strategic plan to seeing that every box is unpacked.” (Especially the ones in that dark, scary basement.)

“I always say to clients that we are the most expensive in the business,” says Michael Jaque, a director at the shipping company Gander & White. At least they know what’s coming.

The funniest part about all this? NouvelleView says many of their clientele, with their delicate ears and their taxi cab allergies, still hire a traditional moving company to handle the bulk of the items!

And this is where you come in. Charge Stephanie, Sara and Cassio whatever you want for that shrink wrap, those boxes and the furniture pads you’re getting back anyway.

Just make sure you pick up some white gloves at Wal-Mart on your way over.


Cover photo from The New York Times.

The 3 Things to Never, Ever Procrastinate on When You Move

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Procrastination, as a strategy, is starting to get more and more interest from the scientific community.

For example, Adam Grant points out in his book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” that Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo Da Vinci were all notorious procrastinators. And hey, it worked out pretty well for them, so what’s the big deal? This train of thought has given me plenty of ammunition to justify all the times I’ve procrastinated for a test, a presentation, or heck, a daily shower.

But I know that one of these times this strategy is going to really backfire. Life is going to punch me in the mouth and, if it weren’t for my wife, our recent move would have been a disaster.

So Abraham Lincoln aside, here are a few areas where procrastination is absolutely not the best strategy. Take it from me, I’m an expert.

Finding All Your Moving Boxes

For our move, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we used 50 boxes. And I’m talking good sized boxes, like the kind a kid would hop into to pretend they’re an astronaut.

So let’s compare approaches:

Procrastination Chris: “Oh, you know, we’ll figure it out. A couple nights before, we’ll go into a Wal-Mart and ask if they can spare a few extra boxes. That should be easy.”

The reality: Retailers aren’t always on board with giving away their extra boxes. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s like going into a restaurant at the end of the day and asking for any spare food; On paper, it makes sense since they’re gonna throw it out anyways. But in practice? Places of business don’t want to deal with this every single day.

My wife’s solution: Reaching out to friends who work retail weeks in advance, then getting the boxes in. She began the process weeks before, rather than a few nights before.

Booking the Moving Truck

I feel like anyone who buys a pickup truck automatically puts a bullseye on their back. You really need to start coming up with excuses for why you can’t help everyone in town move well before you put down your first downpayment.

Case and point: I remember being at a buddy’s bachelor party down in South Carolina and everyone that showed up had a pickup truck. Ford F-150, 250, even the 550, which is a monster truck that also fires off a cannon. I looked around and thought, “Man, if you ever have to move, you’ve got a small army here!”

But in most places, a lot of people don’t even own cars, let alone pickup trucks. And no offense to your buddy with a Mini Cooper, but that’s not gonna get the job done.

Procrastination Chris: “Eh, we’ll just get a U-Haul. Easy!”

The reality: Moving trucks aren’t totally simple. For one, they don’t have a normal rearview mirror; They’ve got these big side mirrors that stick out to give you a view when backing up. If you’ve never driven one before, it’s a lot to get used to. And maybe it’s just me, but it’s amazing how accustomed you get to a backup camera once you have one in your car. Without a backup camera and none of the “beep, beep, beep-beep-beep”, I’m surprised anyone before 2007 ever had a scratch-free bumper.

Most importantly, moving trucks get booked ahead of time. Yeah, that means you’re supposed to coordinate your move date with the date you need the truck, usually well ahead of time – especially during the busy season. Oops.

My “I got lucky” solution: One of my buddies loves helping people move. It’s like having a friend who enjoys doing taxes. He once drove a U-Haul from Chicago to New Orleans, so driving this one a couple block was small potatoes. Phew.

Get Help Loading Your U-Haul Truck

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Getting Help From Your Friends

In fairness, I sent out a calendar invite at least three weeks, maybe a month in advance to some co-workers and another friend.

I cannot, cannot, cannot stress this enough! Without a minimum of four regular friends helping out, I don’t think any move has ever been possible. And yeah, I know there’s an exception out there: the dude who sleeps on an air mattress and only owns like two outfits. But for the vast majority of us, we actually need help moving all of those boxes.

This is where procrastination can backfire big time. If I would have reached out only the day before – nevermind the morning of – they could have all had other plans and/or they could have quickly come up with an excuse. (“I, uh, gotta walk the dog.”)

This is one you don’t want to leave up to chance. Even if it works, it’s sort of like when a basketball player fires up a terrible shot and the coach screams, “No! No! No!”, but then it goes in anyway and they let out a sigh. Yes, procrastination may work every now and then, but not a great long-term strategy. Especially for moving.

My “hope-they-still-talk-to-me” solution: Very patient, very tired friends.

Make Moving Not Suck

Everyone’s moving situation is different, whether the city, suburbs or small town. I think back to that fleet of pickup trucks in South Carolina; Some people are lucky or they’ve got all their buddies around with the right vehicles for a move. They’re all set.

But for most of us, we’re not so lucky.

Most moves involve someone fresh out of college with their mom and dad, and the dad is getting upset because his kid procrastinated, and now his back hurts, and the mom is upset because the dad is upset, and then someone’s like, “Hey, you can’t park here,” and the mom looks over at the dad before he snaps, “Carol, I know, but I have to go feed the parking meter!” All the while the kid’s younger sibling is on their phone taking a selfie (#MovingDay). And everyone is about one step away from not getting together for Thanksgiving.

It’s not worth having one of the worst days of your life with your friends and family. Find some help. If you’ve got the friend brigade of pickup trucks, awesome. If not, hire it. It’s cheaper than you think.

And whatever you do, just don’t procrastinate on this one. No matter what DaVinci says. 


Chris O’Brien is an author writing out of Chicago. His latest release, “Moving Sucks”, captures all the pain of moving day, but with a comedic twist. Watch for its release on Amazon.com this November. For more info, email Chris@mediumraresizzle.com.

Every Last Thing You Should Know About Driving Your Moving Truck in the Fall

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Moving in the fall is easier on the schedule, but harder on basically everything else. As such, we offer the following morsels of random fall knowledge. Well actually, it’s knowledge that can make the difference between a safe drive and an accident. Knowing this stuff can prevent disaster, making your off-season move an uneventful success. Remember…

Keep these things on hand when you move during the fall.

A good place to start is a list of the bits and pieces to have on hand during cold weather driving and moving:

  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Charged cell phone
  • Emergency flares
  • (Working) spare tire
  • Tools to apply spare tires
  • Salt or sand
  • Shovel
  • Cash

A flashlight, blankets and an ice scraper are obvious items. Also have a charged-up cell phone, emergency flares, a (working) spare tire and all the necessary tools and skills to put that spare on. Salt or sand can get you out of a slippery spot, and a shovel can get you out of a deep and powdery one. Food, drink and cash are good to have too.

The fall is when deer mate.

moving in the fall

Research by the Pennsylvania Game Commission found that the “rut” – the mating season for deer – occurs between mid-October and mid-December, with the peak coming in mid-November. This means as autumn creeps toward winter, the bucks are chasing the does all over the forest – and all over the road. At dusk or dawn is when they are generally most active.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us that around 1.5 million deer-vehicle crashes occur annually on U.S. roads, most of them occurring during this annual rut. While a moving truck might do more damage to a deer than vice versa, losing control of your vehicle after hitting or avoiding a deer, then plowing into a stationary object and/or overturning is a common and very real danger. Be on the lookout for deer and other nocturnal critters, particularly along rural roads, and while driving through forested areas.

The optimal air pressure for your tires is NOT what’s molded into your tires’ sidewalls.

moving in the fall

That psi figure on your Michelins is the maximum air pressure they are designed to handle, not what they should be inflated to. For that information, check the decal on the door jamb of your vehicle’s driver side door or the specs laid out in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Then get your tires checked.

Why is this a problem? Over-inflated tires have less contact surface with the road, which is bad news for a loaded box truck on wet, potentially icy pavement. Excess air pressure also increases your chances of having a blowout. This is in addition to the harsh, uncomfortable ride that stiff, over-inflated tires provide.

On the flip side, under-inflated tires can lower steering precision and cornering stability, things you don’t want to lose in any conditions, let alone on a slippery road. Interestingly, low air pressure, just like high air pressure, can heighten the possibility of a blowout. In addition, keep in mind that cooler temperatures can further decrease air pressure, so check your tires as the weather turns colder.

Be careful where you park. (Also, what’s a catalytic converter?) 

moving in the fall

Did you know if your catalytic converter is clogged or being over-worked, it can get hotter than 1,600 degrees? (A catalytic converter, by the way, is a wonderful bit of chemistry and science that converts toxic by-products of engine combustion into less harmful gases.) Catalytic converters on your car are built and installed with a heat shield, but at those temps, there can still be more than enough heat emanating from the bottom of your vehicle to set a pile of leaves smoking. A moving truck sits relatively high off the ground, so the converter – located along the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler – may not pose as big a threat to a pile of leaves as the one on your car.

Either way, all this to say that parking on a pile of leaves is never a good idea. Aside from the potential for fire, leaf piles can hide things like potholes, debris and playful little children.

Sticking with the subject of leaves, never forget that they don’t have to be in a pile to be a hazard. Wet leaves can make for a mighty slick surface that can turn icy and even more slippery during the chilly late-year night. Dry, new-fallen leaves can hide puddles and ice patches as well.

Black ice is sneaky and terrible.

moving in the fall

There’s a special term for water that freezes without air bubbles getting trapped inside; It’s called black ice. (Okay, so maybe you’ve heard of it.) Black ice, of course, is not actually black, but that absence of air bubbles combined with our vantage point as we roll along the pavement makes it appear black. It also looks like nothing more than a wet spot on the road, which is what makes it so innocuous, and therefore extremely dangerous.

Black ice is able to form on road surfaces when there is little to no traffic to disrupt the freezing process. Early morning, then, is when the danger is particularly prevalent. Be alert on those quiet country roads as well!

Consider what you wipe condensation off with.

Cloth diapers are better than disposable ones. I’m talking, of course, about clearing the condensation off the inside of your windshield. Particularly when you combine the cool and moist fall weather with a malfunctioning rental truck defroster, having a cotton rag or an old t-shirt (or a throwback from the pre-Pamper days) can help you keep your windshield clean and your visibility high. In a pinch, wiping your windshield with your hand is a temporary fix during the day. But at night, the smears your skin leaves behind creates a nasty situation when the headlights from oncoming cars begin to shine through.

Worried about glare? Driving west in the morning – or east in the evening – will not help.

moving in the fall

This is a consideration all throughout the year, but during the shorter days of the year, the sun can still be on the rise while we head out in the morning and can start sinking long before it’s time to call it a day. And while driving straight into the sun is no fun, facing away from it doesn’t completely save us either.

That’s because the sudden glare in the side view mirror as we turn can be blinding and can affect our vision even when that glare is gone. A bright sun behind us can also make it difficult to see what color that traffic signal is in front of us, let alone see if it’s changing. Also consider that when the sun is behind you, it’s directly in front of everybody going the other way!

Even when the sun is higher in the sky, any snow on the ground can produce a headache-inducing glare. Simply put? Those Ray-Bans aren’t just for summer.

Freezing fog is a real thing.

moving in the fall

No, it’s not the latest trend in teenage mischief. Freezing fog, as the NOAA puts it, is made of “tiny, super-cooled liquid water droplets (that) can freeze instantly on exposed surfaces (and) can cause black ice to form on roadways.” So if a thick fog weren’t tough enough to drive in, there’s also the potential for black ice forming on the road surface when it’s cold enough.

In any event, reduced visibility from fog demands lower speeds and low headlights (not high beams, which cause more glare than visibility). And since fog is a result of the mixture of moisture and cool air, it is most prevalent at dawn in the colder months, particularly in hilly or mountainous terrain.

Even if you think visibility is not all that bad, remember that your headlights do more than just help you see the road. They also help others see you. And keep in mind that when you turn on your headlights, your tail lights come on too, which can keep speedy and inattentive drivers from slamming into you from behind.

If you don’t know all the specifics – of how catalytic converters work, how black ice forms, or how a doe chooses her buck – that’s quite all right. Just remember that the first can be hot, the second can be deceptive, and those deer can come out of nowhere fast. So make sure you’re prepared for them, and everything else these cooler, shorter days throw at us during your chilly move.

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