Automobile

UPS Trucks Almost Never Make Left Turns — and Maybe You Shouldn't Either

Here's a strange idea: never make a left turn in your car again. Turns out, avoiding left turns is standard practice for UPS truck drivers. Once you discover the reasons they have for this rule, you'll be flashing your right-hand blinker a lot more too.

Take a Right, Now Another Right, and Right Again

Next time you need to make a quick grocery trip, try driving there without turning left at all. UPS drivers do just that whenever they can. In fact, the company made that their policy in 2004. The first reason is the most obvious: danger. Left-turning vehicles usually go against the flow of traffic. In numerous studies, left turns caused a significantly higher number of crashes than right turns. Left turns are also three times more likely to kill pedestrians than right ones, according to data collected by New York City's transportation planners. Look both ways before you cross the street, kids.

Here's where it gets pretty astonishing — avoiding left turns saves an incredible amount of fuel. Since enacting this policy, UPS has saved 10 million gallons of fuel every year and 100,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year. That's the equivalent of taking 21,000 cars off the road. It's all due to the fact that left turns usually cause a driver to sit in that turn lane idling until their chance to go.

UPS driver turning right

Leave the Lefts Out of It

So should the rest of us follow suit? Obviously, banning left turns outright just isn't feasible. Sometimes, you just gotta. Jack Levis, UPS Senior Director of Process Management, tells CNN, "We will make left hand turns, but not ones that are unnecessary. We don't need to go in circles all day long by making only right hand turns. We have tools [that] analyze the number of left hand turns for each route, and we can work out which ones are avoidable."

Although this practice can make driving safer and save you fuel money, how do you tell that to your GPS? UPS has a proprietary software that directs drivers away from unnecessary left turns. "We can differentiate more important left-hand turns from unimportant ones. Google Maps has no concept of not making a left-hand turn, it just shows the most direct way to reach your destination. We have the ability to penalize some of those," Levis told CNN.

Why UPS Trucks Never Turn Left

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Written by Joanie Faletto February 28, 2017

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