UPS Drivers Avoid Making Left Turns, Here's The Interesting Reason Why
LifeAspire Staff 3/17/2017
If you've ever followed a UPS truck, you'll notice that they don't make many left turns. But the drivers don't spend their day driving in circles. What they're doing actually makes a lot of sense.
For every mile UPS drivers shave off their route, the giant company saves money. With thousands and thousands of brown trucks cruising around the country delivering packages, it can add up quick, especially since the drivers make an estimated 18 million stops every single day. So how do they keep their mileage as low as possible and still drop off packages everywhere?
UPS managers use engineering and technology to map out every driver's daily route. The drivers are given routes that consist primarily of right turns. But why? Because it cuts down on mileage, the amount of fuel consumed and emissions. Left-hand turns also are considered unsafe and "wasteful" on roads where people drive on the right side, too.
CNN reported that a U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Association study showed that left-hand turns are one of the top factors contributing to crashes. In fact, 61 percent of crashes that happen while a motorist is turning or crossing through an intersection involve left-hand turns compared to 3.1 percent of accidents using right-hand turns. Left turns also are three times more likely to kill a pedestrian than right turns.
So years ago, UPS removed left-hand turns from drivers' routes where possible. Jack Levis, UPS senior director of process management, told CNN that drivers won't turn in circles all day long with only right turns. Technology computes the most efficient routes that have the least amount of left turns.
"We have tools analyze the number of left-hand turns for each route, and we can work out which ones are avoidable. ... A lot of individual drivers felt the new routing software was making their trips longer, but they were later proven wrong."
UPS' system called Orion is highly complex and relies on maps they generated themselves. The system recognizes parking lots, private driveways, variable speed limits and roads where its trucks cannot traverse. At first, new drivers are surprised by this approach, but it has paid off for the company in more ways than one, CNN reported. In fact, by using this system - the company reportedly saves $300-$400 million a year in fuel, vehicle running costs, and wages.
"Our basic routines were already good, and allowed us to save about 85 million miles a year. When we put Orion on top of those, it shaved off an extra 100 million miles, and the savings got up to 185 million miles a year."
So should the average motorist avoid making left-hand turns? Jack said better options for motorists would be to consolidate trips, drive an appropriate vehicle for the commute or a project, and park in a central location then walk to different places from that one stop. Even though Tasha Hovland, an industrial engineering manager at UPS, said the company's fleet is taking right turns probably 90 percent of the time.
"We really, really hate left turns."
Oddly enough, even company officials who don't drive a truck avoid making left-hand turns in their normal, everyday life. Jim Winestock, a UPS vice president, told ABC News that he skips businesses on the left side of the road and waits for one on the right side instead.
"I know it drives my wife crazy, but I've been known to pass up drug stores, three or four on the left-hand side of the road, just to get to the one on the right-hand side of the road."
Here's more about this interesting concept of skipping left turns.
The popular television show Mythbusters tested out the no left turn procedure adopted by UPS that used eight left and four right turns, then compared it to a similar route headed to the same destination with 23 right turns and only one left turn. The predominately right turn route reduced gas consumption from 6.8 to four pounds. We should all give this a try!