Save gas; don't make left-hand turns.
You have to hand it to UPS. They crunched the numbers, they looked at the hard facts and they figured out that by limiting the number of left-hand turns made, you can save a whole bunch of money on gas.
Joel Lovell of the NY Times revealed on Sunday that the UPS has significantly cut down its gas usage by carefully calculating routes to avoid left-hand turns. Not every left turn of course, that would be ridiculous. But by employing a program called "package flow" the fleet of over 95,000 trucks can now avoid a massive number of left-hand turns, taking only the ones necessary to complete the trip.
As you're no doubt aware, left-hand turns are far more costly because of the waiting time involved. There's rarely a "left on red" rule and thus drivers have to idle, wait for the lights to change and burn up gas. Depending on the cross street, that can take up considerable time and fuel. The "package flow" program has put an end to most of that, and has also saved time and mileage in the process.
As always, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And these results are very tasty. Last year UPS shaved over 28.5 million miles off its delivery routes. That in turn has resulted in saving roughly three million gallons of gas! It's also reduced CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons. This is an example of lateral thinking at its best. It saves time, money and the environment, and everyone is a winner.
Those of you with those handy GPS navigation devices may want to think about doing something similar on your drive to work. If you can cut out the left-hand turns without eating up any extra miles or time, you could see a nice drop in your fuel bill. With the cost of gasoline still over $3 a gallon, that could add up to quote a nice pile of extra cash every year. Now, I'm off to send my holiday packages via UPS.