Why Do UPS Drivers Avoid Turning Left At Junctions?


How would you react if someone were to tell you that UPS trucks do not turn left, just right? Although, this only applies in countries where they drive on the right and vice versa.

As a matter of fact, the company goes so far as to give drivers specific directions regarding the routes they should take. These instructions follow a policy that encourages drivers to never turn left unless absolutely necessary. Why? Because it saves time and money.┬áThis strategy (along with others) saved the company 20.4 million miles of “late” travel last year. They also managed to deliver 350,000 more packages, apparently.

What’s more, UPS have designed their vehicle-routing software to eliminate as many left-hand turns as possible (in countries with right-hand traffic). This because the company, along with many others, tackles the vehicle routing problem on a daily basis. This is a mathematical conundrum where you are given a set of points and the distances between them, and you have to find the best (shortest) route or routes through all of them.

UPS, however, has turned away from trying to find the shortest route. Instead, they are attacking the problem from another perspective. One idea is to try to avoid turning through oncoming traffic at junctions. It sounds strange, but it actually lowers the risk of accidents with oncoming traffic and also saves fuel typically spent waiting for a gap in the traffic.


The end result is, though unexpected, very successful. Drivers might be turning in the opposite direction of their destination at times, but they end up using less fuel and arriving at their destination more safely. Now all that’s left to do is find a way to apply that to the rest of the global population.