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.

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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