Fun fact: UPS trucks never turn left

And this saves the company around $350m every year

27w ago

Fun fact: UPS trucks in the United States never turn left (unless they absolutely have to) because their GPS software is designed to provide right-turn only directions to drivers. It sounds a bit mad but apparently there's a scientific reason, and this little tweak saves UPS a lot of money (around $350m every year) on insurance premiums and fuel.

Statistics confirm that left-hand turns are considerably more dangerous than right-hand turns, chiefly because by turning left you're generally turning against the flow of oncoming vehicles, leading to more crashes. According to a study conducted by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Association, around 61% of crashes occur while crossing an intersection that requires left turns, as opposed to just 3.1% involving right-hand turns.

Furthermore, analytical data collected by the New York City Department of Transportation confirm that left turns are three times more likely to cause fatal collisions involving pedestrians.

So what about fuel economy? UPS is apparently saving anywhere between 15,000 and 30,000 tons of fuel per year by only making right-hand turns simply because drivers are more likely to maintain a steady pace. In the US, for example, this makes a huge difference because you're usually allowed to turn right even if the light is red and stop-start traffic is terrible for fuel economy.

UPS apparently began experimenting with the idea in the 1970s and in 2008, the company launched a routing software called Orion, specifically designed to calculate the best possible route with right-hand turns only. The company makes around 20 million deliveries a day in the US alone and Orion analyzes 250 million address points a day and performs over 30,000 route optimizations every minute. UPS also use a similar system in other countries, including left-hand driving countries like Australia and the UK, where the software prioritizes left-hand turns.

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Comments (16)

  • Right

      6 months ago
  • No left? What's left—right? Right is left. Right? Right.

      6 months ago
  • Wow. That’s super interesting. Right on!

      6 months ago
  • I'm reading this in Japan. Imagine how much I'm confused.

      6 months ago
  • I worked previously with UPS as a seasonal worker years ago and yes its true that they make right hand turns. I took a ride in the UPS truck to drop off packages and the driver I worked with never made a left hand turn at all.

      6 months ago
    • Thank you for sharing, David. It's always interesting to have first-hand reports of people who've actually worked there and confirm

        6 months ago