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.

‘Move For Hunger’ Saved 2.4 Million Pounds of Food From People Moving in 2017

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Move For Hunger is a charitable organization dead-set on fighting two unbelievable stats: 42 million Americans (many children) are food insecure, and 40% of all food grown, processed and transported in the United States is wasted.

Move For Hunger recently released their annual report. Inside, it dissects the way both of those statistics are being brought down simply by

connecting the dots. What they target hits home for us as, unfortunately, a huge chunk of food loss occurs during peoples’ moves. From Adam Lowy, their executive director:

Our network, which now includes 840 moving companies, delivered 2.4 million pounds of food last year, more than we ever have before. We organized a record number of food drives, which helped to raise awareness about hunger in hundreds of communities all across the United States and Canada. We launched our Apartment Community Program, and provided thousands of renters in Seattle and San Francisco with the opportunity to donate their food when they move. And, in the final days of December, we recorded another major milestone by delivering our 10 millionth pound of food.

To recap their 2017, that’s:

  • 840+ movers now contributing
  • 300,000 pounds of food going to victims of hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico
  • 4,899 pounds of food saved from apartment communities
  • 4,536 pounds of food saved from corporate housing
  • 204,153 pounds of food from racing events

All of that good comes in addition to the plethora of personal donations that have come their way, both of food and currency. And the best part about helping them to connect the dots is that you have to do next to nothing to join in. Just ask your mover if you can donate the extra food from your pantry.

You can check out this video to see how Move For Hunger works.

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 to Survive Driving a Rental Truck in the Snow

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Driving a car through snow and ice ain’t no one’s idea of a picnic. You have to watch your speed. You have to constantly glance in your mirrors. You’ve got to stash the phone away and keep a careful eye out for all the death-defying maniacs out there. (You people in the northeast understand.)

Now, if driving your regular car into the teeth of winter’s fury makes you feel like you’ll never see another spring, imagine how it’s going to feel piloting that rental truck. The weight of your entire material world leaning and swaying behind you as you roll down those same icy roads and onto the unforgiving highway.

Maybe you’re absolutely obligated to move now. Maybe you just think it’s time. Either way, across much of the country the elements can be snarling. Before you load up and put that rental truck in gear, make sure you have all the supplies (and do what you need to do) to make it safely to your new home.

Stuff You Should Have

Here’s a list of essential items. It may seem long, but I’ve needed every single one of these at some point in my long moving career.

  • Good boots
  • Warm clothes—and bring extra everything.
  • Sunglasses (Hats do nothing for you when the sun is reflecting off the snow all over the ground.)
  • Food, water and a first aid kit
  • Flashlight, batteries and blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Toolkit with basic tools
  • Matches in a plastic bag
  • Wiper fluid, windshield de-icer and a jug of anti-freeze

Additional Emergency Equipment

  • Shovel
  • Bag of sand
  • Set of jumper cables
  • Tow straps

And while getting all this stuff together may seem like a hassle, keep in mind: these things aren’t necessarily just for you. Having them may just mean you save another driver’s day.

Protip: If you are stuck in a snowdrift and need traction to get out, sand is what you want. Rock salt is meant to melt snow, not provide traction. So unless you’re willing to hang around and wait for that rock salt to do its chemical reaction thing, make sure you get some sand.

Maintenance You Should Get

Truck rental places don’t always have their stuff in order, so before you drive off the rental truck lot, make sure all these things are done:

  • Check the anti-freeze and wiper fluid (don’t trust that it’s been done for you). If they’re low, get it taken care of
  • Make sure your truck is properly stocked with spare tire, a jack and a tire iron (You’d be surprised.)
  • Flares and those reflective triangles are critical in the event you break down on the road at night. Your rental truck company may not supply them (Flares, by the way, can also be used to start a fire in an extreme situation, while reflectors become even more important if and when your flares go out.)

Also, are you in a snowy and mountainous region? Tire chains are recommended or, sometimes, required. Check this resource for a state-by-state rundown.

Stuff You Should Remember

  • Drive extra slow. Your loaded rental truck is not going to stop on a dime 
  • Leave extra room ahead of you—Other drivers will try to stop on a dime
  • Be extra aware of icy spots, snow build-up, and drivers who are paying attention to none of it
  • Keep your lights and your mirrors clear of ice, frost and fog (Trust me.)
  • Keep your gas tank no emptier than half full – low fuel levels can lead to water condensation in the fuel line
  • Keep your power usage to a minimum. Cold weather decreases a battery’s output, and when it’s freezing out you’re going to want all the power you can get
  • Keep up to date with future weather conditions and forecasts. Clear weather now doesn’t mean blue skies forever

Final Must-Do’s

  • Make sure you have a mobile phone charger that adapts to whatever type of outlet you have in your truck. When you’re really stuck, that phone might be your last resort. Consider keeping an extra phone, fully-charged, on hand for twice the security
  • Any kind of map is critical. Whether it’s a road atlas or a GPS, be able to determine where you are and where you are going. Know your route as best you can before you even get into that seat

And finally … have a clear head. Be relaxed, be awake and stay alert. Your smarts and your reflexes are your first and best defenses in the face of winter’s fury.

What I Learned Moving at the End of My Second Trimester

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Moving while pregnant is an adventure! When my husband and I found out the exciting news that we were expecting a baby, our first thoughts were obviously to be beyond thrilled and extremely grateful. Can you tell?

However, soon after the initial news that we were having a precious baby boy, we discovered a house for sale in our dream neighborhood, which then immediately prompted us to put our current house on the market. The sellers of our dream house accepted our offer and within 48 hours, we also accepted an offer on our current home, which we had lived in and loved for the past five years.

All while we had planned to do nothing other than being pregnant!

This series of somewhat unexpected developments was a complete whirlwind and still has us looking at one another thinking, “Oh boy! What just happened?!” That was quickly followed by, “How are we going to do this?”

Luckily, we managed to do it all. Yep, I accomplished moving while I was pregnant.

Overwhelmed by the thought of moving while pregnant? I was too.

Baby on the way—check!

New house in our dream neighborhood—check!

Moving while pregnant … eek! 

I didn’t exactly see that coming. And I was a bit overwhelmed at the thought of tackling a move with a baby on the way. For the record, I was in my second trimester when I began planning for my move, heading rapidly towards my third trimester.

Spending the final months leading up to our first child packing, moving, unpacking, and renovating was overwhelming to me. But life happens and I had no choice but to make the best of it. And I’m here to report that I survived! I learned a lot along the way.

I turned out not to be completely useless while helping.

My biggest fear when I found out we were moving while I was pregnant was that I wouldn’t be able to help with anything! For context, I’m a “Type A” personality who enjoys being busy. A surprising source of stress? The thought of leaving my husband with our entire to-do list while I sat back and watched was extremely stressful!

But I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I was far from useless during this time.

My husband and I worked out a system where he would build the boxes, I would organize, pack and label the boxes, then he would stack them all up. Packing was a total team effort, which made me feel productive and my husband was genuinely grateful for my help.

Yes, I made sure to take care of my body, take it slow and avoid lifting heavy boxes during the process, but honestly, I was fully capable of just about everything else. If you find you might be moving while pregnant, one solid teammate might be the only thing you need.

Me on moving day.

Moving day was also a stressor for me because again, I felt like I was going to be totally in the way. I’m happy to report ladies that once again, I was wrong! We opted for a Hybrid Move, which is hiring movers and renting a truck separately to save a lot of money. I was fully capable of picking up the U-Haul and driving it all day. So although I couldn’t lift heavy boxes, I absolutely was contributing in a big way by driving the truck.

I was also able to help oversee the move by organizing which boxes and furniture ended up where. It turned out that it was really helpful having one point-person that wasn’t carrying boxes, but rather solely focused on making sure everything ended up in the spot we had planned.

Plus, getting each box into the correct room was super helpful towards keeping me involved in the unpacking process. I highly recommend this point-person/direction technique, pregnant or not! I didn’t have to bring a certain box to a specific room for unpacking, which meant the boxes were already there, which made getting set up in our new house a lot more efficient!

Hiring movers ended up being necessary.

Although I felt like I contributed a lot before, during and after moving day, I don’t want to give anyone an unrealistic expectation that you’ll be able to do everything on your own, given how intense moving a home truly is. I can honestly say that hiring Helpers as a part of our Hybrid Move was the best investment we could have ever made, pregnant or not. We needed them that day and appreciated their help more than we could have ever anticipated.

Having them to do all of the heavy lifting took the responsibility off of my husband, but it also kept me from feeling bad about not being able to help him with the big stuff. Our Helpers were able to pick up all of our stuff from the old house and bring it to our new house in less than three hours!

My husband and I weren’t stressed at all, which made the process a lot more enjoyable and probably kept the baby healthier. I would definitely recommend hiring help, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not. But if you are expecting a little one, I have firsthand experience that this is money well spent.

Leaving my old home was harder than I thought it was going to be.

Okay, I blame this part on my pregnancy a little. But in all actuality, the emotional roller coaster that came with leaving our old house will probably be the case for many of you even if you aren’t pregnant. Leaving our old house for the last time was a lot harder than I ever expected.

My husband and I bought this house when we got married and I guess I always pictured we’d someday bring our baby home here. But we were already outgrowing this 1,000 square foot house well before we got the exciting baby news.

Cue all the tears here!

I guess the baby was the excuse we needed to finally make the move. But that still didn’t make leaving this house any easier, and whatever your own circumstances are, it might not be easy for you either. The good news is that the sadness didn’t last too long because there were exciting things ahead.

Starting fresh was amazing.

Those exciting things? Starting a new journey by preparing the new house for your new family! The nesting phase is no joke and may come at the perfect time if you’re pregnant and moving, like me.

I’ve been able to get so much done in the new house because of the baby deadline that is coming closer. Sure, setting up a new house is a ton – especially while pregnant –  but I’m feeling a constant fire under me to get as much done as possible so we’re settled in before the baby arrives.

Of course, I still need to be conscious of my body’s limits, and you should be too. I’m working hard to stay busy throughout my second and now third trimester. Thanks to all that hard work, I survived moving while being pregnant and now I am so thankful we were able to get the move out of the way before the baby comes. Now I can’t wait to invite our new baby into our new home!

Should You Use Salt or Sand on an Icy Driveway?

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Taking a spill on your icy driveway is bad enough when you’re carrying your car keys. So imagine wiping out while carrying a dresser full of clothes. Scary scenario, for us and for our movers. (And one reason people prefer to move in summer.)

If the forecast for your move date calls for moisture and freezing temps, you might be thinking: Should I cover my front walk and driveway with salt or sand? Here we’re going to tell you all you need to know to keep everyone and everything around you safe.

What to do first.

The best defense is a good offense. If it snows the night before your move, it almost goes without saying that the first thing you’ll want to do is grab a shovel and get to work clearing the area. If you live where temperatures can remain below freezing for days on end (if not weeks—hello, Minnesota!), then you’ll understand the importance of shoveling your driveway before all that snow gets packed down and turns to ice.

Yes, we totally understand. The lead-up to move day can be absolutely insane. If you can’t find time to clear all that snow, you might want to give the neighbor’s kid a few bucks to do it for you. Trust me, you’ll find it’s a wise investment of both money and time.

Now let’s decide whether to melt that ice or cover it up.

Choose Your Weapon

If Mother Nature insists on coating the driveway with ice, we have two choices. We can either melt it or cover it up. The answer depends on how cold it is, as well as how much you care if it gets into the environment. In either case, the biggest priority is traction.

The case for sand.

Covering up ice in our way can be quick and pretty easy. All we need is a bag or two of sand. It’s potentially less toxic and cheaper to get. Just keep in mind these few things:

  • Since sand provides traction, once it gets ground into the snow or ice it becomes less effective. As many times as you or your movers will be walking back and forth on it, you’ll likely have to put more down once or twice during the move.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, sand can freeze in hazardous clumps. Some suggest adding salt to the sand to help prevent this from happening, but if it’s cold enough, that salt won’t help either (more on that in a minute).
  • Sand comes in several varieties. The stuff explicitly meant for icy roads is better than sandbox sand, which in turn is better than something like mason’s sand. In other words, the grittier, the better.
  • After the fact, sand can collect in drainage systems and the soil, eventually clogging up lakes, streams, pipes and sewers. That means it’s also getting into our drinking water. Clean up what you can or give the neighbor’s kid a few more bucks to make sure it’s cleaned.

The case for salt.

Instead of covering your packed snow and ice with sand, you can try melting it with salt. Because it’s specifically designed for this purpose, it can definitely be an attractive option.

Running out and buying the biggest, cheapest bag you can find might be your first instinct, but as with sand, there are a few things to consider.

  • Driveway salt, sometimes called “rock salt”, doesn’t melt ice like, say, a hot rock or a flamethrower would. This is how the stuff works: when mixed with water, it forms a liquid brine (a fancy name for salt water) which has a lower freezing point than pure water. This brine then acts to lower the freezing point of the water it comes in contact with, effectively melting italthough only down to a certain degree. (Brine that is 20% salt will still freeze below 0˚F.)
  • Throwing some salt down on your icy driveway will get you nowhere if it’s too cold for the salt to actually mix with the ice! The salt needs to draw moisture from the air to create a brine which will act on the ice it touches, which will melt and further the reaction. Alternatively, there needs to be some heat, from the sun or from friction, to initiate the melting process. In other words, don’t wait until your movers are pulling up to your house before you start throwing that salt around.

Other concerns about salt.

The cheapest and most plentiful salt you’ll find is basically table salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl). That may sound perfectly safe, but do be aware:

  • That salt may contain small amounts of cyanide, which isn’t exactly good for any curious pets or animals.
  • Using salt can cause metal to rust and can damage blacktop, cement, flagstone, brick, wood and pretty much anything else your driveway is (or has). If you’re interested, this damage is not merely from the salt, but from the increase in freeze/thaw cycles that come with the brine’s lower freezing point, which can begin to break down the integrity of the surface with which it is in contact.
  • Got a cool yard? Salt can damage plants by inhibiting their ability to absorb water and nutrients. Salt also leaches heavy metals into the water supply.
  • Got pets? If salt gets lodged in your pet’s paws, it can cause a nasty burning.

There are also salt and sand alternatives.

Alternatives to salt would more accurately be called “variations of salt” and have a spectrum of merits. While you can probably find any of these at a store, which one to pick is most dependant on exactly how cold it is where you are.

  • Calcium chloride (CaCl): Covers a wider area than rock salt with a lower freezing point (around minus 25˚F). It also works more quickly because it gives off heat as it dissolves. Like rock salt, calcium chloride is corrosive to metal and can leave a slimy residue. It also encourages algae growth which clogs waterways.
  • Magnesium chloride: It’s similar to calcium chloride, albeit somewhat less corrosive, and will begin to absorb moisture from the air at 32% humidity, speeding up the melting process.
  • Potassium chloride (KCl): Despite its use for executions by lethal injection, is safer for pets and plants than calcium chloride. With a freezing point of around 12˚F, it is also less effective.
  • Nitrogen-based urea products: This is similar to fertilizers in that they are expensive, ineffective under 20˚F and, like other salts, will eventually get into the water supply, lakes and streams.
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): Can prevent ice down to around minus 27˚F and is much more environmentally friendly than the abovementioned salts – at a much higher price.

More eco-friendly alternatives?

With all the pros and cons of these salts and chemicals, you may be wondering, “Is there an eco-friendly way to de-ice my driveway?”

Yes. Maybe. It depends on your definition of “eco-friendly” and your motivation to be so.

Grist offers a few eco-ish alternatives to rock salt in an editorial. GreenMoxie also goes all out.

But what everyone seems to agree on – including us – is that there’s no better way to keep your driveway and your front walk clear of ice than grabbing that shovel and getting to work.

Or, like we said, get the neighbor’s kid to do it.

Final tips.

  • Salt the day before your move, clearing away any chunks or other bits to help keep it all from refreezing overnight.
  • Applying salt the morning of your move? The heat from all the foot traffic will help the melting process, but in the meantime, scattering some sand on top wouldn’t hurt.
  • Get an idea of how much square footage you’ll need to cover before you run out to grab that salt or sand. If a sales assistant isn’t there to help, you might find how much you need right on the bag.

And remember, get rid of whatever snow and ice you can along the way. Your movers will love you for it.

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