Did You Know UPS Trucks Only Make Right Turns?

Illustration for article titled Did You Know UPS Trucks Only Make Right Turns?

Turns out left turns are not only riskier, they also waste gas. So UPS – optimization-obsessed logistics company that it is – got rid of them.


Photo Credit: David Guo // CC BY 2.0

Via Priceonomics:

UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a major drag on efficiency. Turning against traffic resulted in long waits in left-hand turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and it also led to a disproportionate number of accidents. By mapping out routes that involved "a series of right-hand loops," UPS improved profits and safety while touting their catchy, environmentally friendly policy. As of 2012, the right turn rule combined with other improvements — for the wow factor, UPS doesn't separate them out — saved around 10 million gallons of gas and reduced emissions by the equivalent of taking 5,300 cars of the road for a year.

Describing the policy in a speech, the CEO of UPS told his audience, "I can see a few of you smiling out there, and I know what you may be thinking. But it really works."

Of course, you can't get rid of left turns entirely. There are occasions when a left turn is fast, safe, or just plain necessary enough to warrant making – which, according to one driver, amounts to about once every ten turns.


Mythbusters tested this back in 2010 and confirmed it. Even though the trucks cover more distance, they use less fuel because they spend less time idling.