Beth Buczynski

The Awesome Reason You'll Never See a UPS Truck Take a Left Turn in the U.S.

by , 04/13/14

UPS, parcel delivery service, UPS trucks, UPS brown truck, UPS logistics, UPS hybrid trucks, UPS energy efficiency, UPS no left turns, UPS trucks don't turn left

Email and text messages may have replaced snail mail, but there are some things that you just can’t send electronically. While the Internet may have killed the handwritten letter, all those online stores have only boosted demand for parcel delivery services. In the interest of saving money and building a greener image, delivery companies have adopted some unique policies. For instance: UPS trucks never turn left! Nope that’s not a joke: In the U.S., UPS drivers are advised to avoid left hand turns at all costs. It sounds silly, but the reduced fuel costs (and by extension, emissions) are no joke.

UPS, parcel delivery service, UPS trucks, UPS brown truck, UPS logistics, UPS hybrid trucks, UPS energy efficiency, UPS no left turns, UPS trucks don't turn left

A few years ago, UPS engineers took a careful look at the methods drivers used to deliver packages. They wanted to devise route-optimization plans that would increase efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and get drivers back to their centers earlier.

After some research, they noticed that UPS truck drivers wasted a lot of time (and fuel) sitting at intersections and waiting for the chance to take a left turn (essentially going against the flow of traffic). So, they came up with a simple rule. Minimize – or sometimes, eliminate – left-hand turns. And the results are impressive. Since 2004 UPS has saved an estimated 10 million gallons of gas. Carbon emissions were reduced by 100,000 metric tons – the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars off the road for an entire year.

Related: UPS Purchases 100 EV Delivery Trucks for its Next-Gen California Fleet

You might think that avoiding left hand turns means taking a less direct route, therefore delaying delivery and negating fuel savings, but it doesn’t! “Even if this meant traveling a greater distance, results showed that more packages could be delivered in less time with reduced emissions by driving in a series of right-hand loops. It helped the bottom line, met consumer demands and increased safety,” explains a UPS press release.

Hmmm…maybe we should all start avoiding the left turning lane?

Via HUH Magazine

Images via tomasfano and schnaars

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7 Comments

  1. Eletruk April 18, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    When they say never make left turns, they mean never use a left turn in an intersection without a left turn light. There are a lot of city intersections which have only a left turn lane (some don’t even have that) but no traffic controlled light for exclusive left turns. During peak traffic hours, only 1 or 2 vehicles can get through an uncontrolled left turn (sometimes none). In those cases it certainly makes more sense to do a series of right turns rather than sit through who knows how many stoplight cycles. Also they have a pretty powerful computer system that maps those routes out taking into account using right turns rather than left turns.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ak2GqmrUnVw
    Not exactly news, since the video is from 2008

  2. amaury veiga April 18, 2014 at 4:14 am

    Sound reason not to go left!

  3. mermaidsue April 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    It\’d be a nifty trick for them to NOT make a left turn in my neighborhood. So to say NEVER is a BIG stretch.

  4. terryjr91 April 13, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Something they’re obviously not following where I live. I see them make left turns all the time.

  5. roiikkata April 12, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    thats awesome

  6. Mark Kaufman April 12, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Well done UPS….

  7. richardchaven April 12, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Can they teach Google Maps to offer that as a routing option?

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