U-Haul Them In Court

June 25, 2007

Upkeep lags in U-Haul’s aging fleet

THE U-HAUL TRUCK was 19 years old, with nearly 234,000 miles on its odometer. It had a history of problems with its emergency brake and was overdue for a safety inspection.Talmadge Waldrip, 73, of Forney, Texas, was using it to help his daughter move some belongings in September. He drove to a warehouse and killed the engine. Then he put the manual transmission in gear, set the emergency brake and stepped down from the cab, he told family members later.

Instantly, the truck rolled backward. Waldrip tried to climb back in, but the door knocked him to the pavement. The 6-ton truck rolled over his midsection and dragged him, crushing his pelvis.

Nine months and 14 surgeries later, the once-vigorous Waldrip cannot walk and needs round-the-clock care.

U-Haul International Inc. has denied responsibility and says it’s still investigating the cause. Whatever the outcome, the accident shows how the company tries to squeeze the last mile from its vehicles, and how it often fails to meet its own standards for inspecting and maintaining them.

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