Man puts RV on cruise control, walks back to make coffee

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By Chuck Woodbury
ROADSIDE JOURNAL
I likely “got you” with that headline, but rest assured you are not the first to fall for this urban legend. It’s made the rounds in emails for decades and more recently via social media. A version of it arrived in my inbox yesterday, prompting this article.

The fact is, it’s a bunch of baloney — totally false. If someone emails it to you or posts it on Facebook, respond by saying you had a good laugh but the story is fabricated. It goes like this:


“In November 2000, Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand-new 32-foot Winnebago motorhome. On his first trip home, having joined the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go into the back to make a cup of coffee.

“Not surprisingly, the Winnie left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the handbook that he could not actually do this. He was awarded $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago.”

The legend reappeared in 2009.This time it was Mrs. Grazinski:

“Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, purchased new 32-foot Winnebago motorhome. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver’s seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich. Not surprisingly, the motorhome left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner’s manual that she couldn’t actually leave the driver’s seat while the cruise control was set. The Oklahoma jury awarded her, are you sitting down? $1,750,000 PLUS a new motorhome. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motorhome.”

A variation (there are many):

“This guy saves up his money and finally gets the van he always wanted. Fridge and TV in the back, all the works. He starts driving out on a country road that leads to his home. He sets the van on cruise control and gets out of the driver’s seat and goes into the back to get a beer. The van of course goes off the road, and when the paramedics ask him what happened, he said he thought he had auto-pilot.”

Jan Harold Brunvand, a master of such tall tales, explained this urban legend to Snopes.com:

“The legend began in the late 1970s when cruise control was first available for RVs (which then was the vehicle always featured in this legend). As he says, “Sometimes it was a retired couple that made the dangerous (but never fatal) error with cruise control, otherwise it was a young and naive driver.”

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Kim

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Ron H.

Legend today, but reality in the not so distant future. Cars and trucks are already cruising down our highways without driver assistance and why not an RV? The future is almost here.

Tink

This is not an urban legend. When I was in grade school, my best friends uncle (basically my uncle as well. Our families did everything together), was driving drunk. The bars had shut down, but he was not ready to stop drinking. He had a wet bar in the back of his van (to answer your question yes he had a serious drinking problem). Instead of pulling over to make himself a drink he decided to use the cruise control function while he was still going down the road, at at least the speed limit on the freeway if not faster when he got up to go to the back and make himself a drink. When he was in the back, the van drifted across the median and hit a car coming the opposite direction on the freeway instantly killing the 2 young women in the car. He was sentenced to 2 life sentences for vehicular man slaughter. Sadly, he only had to serve one because he was release for good behavior. One week after he was released he was arrested for driving under the influence.
These aren’t just amusing stories. They had a start somewhere, and that somewhere had a very sad ending.

Tommy Molnar

There are ‘stories’ like this that occasionally spread in the trucking industry about a new driver putting the truck in “Cruise” and walking back to the sleeper to grab a sandwich. More BS . . .

Primo Rudy's Roadhouse

I first heard the story in the 70’s. The driver was a rich Arabian prince