UPS Fleet Drivers Don’t Make Left Turns - Why Should You Follow Suit
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UPS Fleet Drivers Don’t Make Left Turns - Why Should You Follow Suit

Category:fleet GPS

smarketingFebruary 17, 2024

Would you believe if we told you that you can save fuel by taking right turns only? Yes! It's true, and we have proof! Around 90% of the turns made by the delivery vehicles of United Parcel Service (UPS) are right turns.

Why do they do it? The brand claims this policy is instrumental in reducing CO2 emissions by 20,000 tons and using 10 million gallons less fuel. UPS even managed to deliver 350,000 more packages per year.

Left turns are dangerous and inefficient in more ways than one. Based on a study, a left turn is three times more likely to cause a deadly crash involving a pedestrian in NYC than a right turn.

In the USA, people drive on the right side of the road, which means a driver has to cross a lane of oncoming traffic to make a left turn. It can be life-threatening, particularly in high-traffic zones and busy intersections.

How does UPS do it?

To cut a long story short, UPS uses route planning technology powered by fleet GPS telematics.

UPS relies on technology to break its deliveries into smaller hubs with multiple stops and routes.

The brand also leverages fleet GPS trackers to monitor driver performance in real-time. This facilitates delivery status monitoring and identifying areas where drivers can improve their performance.

UPS has even invested in autonomous vehicles, which can increase efficiency further and cut costs.

Why eliminate left turns?

Back in 1959, a renowned mathematician, George Dantzig, introduced the problem of truck dispatching with his research. Basically, it's a method of using data analysis for route optimization and addressing the issue of vehicle routing.

Also described as the 'traveling salesman problem', it asks how to get to as many destinations as possible while keeping operating costs low.

The length of the route dictates optimal routing. However, UPS has over 100,000 delivery vehicles across the world. Naturally, the vehicle routing issue experienced by the brand is different.

In Dantzig's time, UPS delivered eggs and milk, but not today.

Today, it's all about looking at the bigger picture instead of seeking the shortest route on paper or on screen.

UPS devised a stellar solution - they stopped making left turns!

Here are a few benefits of the strategy incorporated by UPS.

  1. Fuel savings

  2. Both fuel and transportation costs are on the rise.

    The price of regular fuel increased by 49% between January and June 2022.

    Think about it - if UPS doesn't take the shortest path, won't its vehicles waste more gas?

    In reality, taking longer routes doesn't mean using more fuel.

    Mythbusters, a popular TV show, used this idea and found that the policy of taking only right turns doesn't affect fuel consumption.

    Actually, it saves gas by supporting drivers. It lets them avoid waiting at traffic lights or idling. After all, left-turning traffic often has to wait for the oncoming traffic to slow down before drivers can cross an intersection.

  3. Reduce accidents

  4. Truck drivers and delivery guys have too much on their plates almost all the time.

    They have to handle and deliver goods safely and on time. Most importantly, they must ensure their own safety and that of others on the roads.

    The right turn policy reduces the risks of accidents, particularly in busy cities with congested roads.

    Making turns through oncoming traffic at a junction can be challenging and dangerous.

    Right turns, however, are safer because they reduce the risks of head-on collisions and stop drivers from running into other vehicles or pedestrians.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that almost 53% of all cross-path crashes result from left turns.

    Locations like New York City have heavy foot traffic. Such places are always risky for pedestrians and cyclists.

    The Department of Transportation (DOT) of NYC found out;

    • 108 bicyclists and pedestrians died from crashing against left-turning automobiles between 2010 and 2014.
    • Seniors were at a higher risk of sustaining severe injuries and death from left-turning cars, delivery vans, and trucks.
    • At almost 18% of all intersections in NYC, left-turn injuries have occurred.
    • 70% of injuries happened on one-way streets.

    This and similar data played a crucial role in making UPS decide to reduce left-hand turns to only 10%.

  5. Time-saver

  6. Can you save time if you take a longer route?

    UPS did it, but how? A professor of computer science at the University of Nottingham in the UK, Graham Kendall, researched algorithms to contemplate the brand's choice.

    He found that saving time is one of the primary objectives of UPS.

    Americans spend 17,600 minutes driving every year and 3,520 minutes standing at red lights, on average.

    This amounts to a lot of time spent inside!

    Now, think about a driver who works forty hours behind the wheel. This person faces much more driving time than the average person.

    UPS removed left turns partially to reduce driving time and avoid idling at red lights.

    While the company takes technically longer routes, making right turns almost exclusively means faster driving times.

    That's because a driver can turn right on the red light, but only as long as they come to a complete halt first. No signs would prohibit it, and the way would be clear.

    This is legal in all the states, but NYC has a few exceptions.

  7. Less CO2 emission

  8. Carbon emissions affect the environment significantly and are a primary factor in climate change.

    As the number of delivery vans on the roads keeps increasing, emissions will escalate, and traffic will worsen.

    Idling causes pollution and contributes to expenses by burning fuel unnecessarily.

    Upon reducing travel time, you save money on gas and cut down CO2 emissions.

    UPS did it, too! The company currently yields 20,000 tons less CO2 due to its policy.

Vehicle routing is an optimization issue.

Vehicle routing is an optimization issue.

George Dantzig, as mentioned earlier, is the first person who introduced the vehicle routing problem. It's an “optimal set of routes" for a fleet of vehicles to follow during a job.

Optimization is the process of finding the most efficient route for delivery vehicles. It allows drivers to make multiple stops in the shortest time.

The objective is to minimize the costs or distance covered and other factors, such as fuel consumption and travel time.

Optimization works for almost every delivery, from local milk delivery to global-scale freight delivery.

The most effective solutions incorporate an algorithm that takes multiple factors into account, including the following;

  • Demands of the customer
  • Delivery routes
  • Traffic patterns
  • Cost of transportation and fuel
  • Environmental matters

UPS solved most of its problems by making 90% right turns.

Do you run a logistics company or a delivery business? Then you are in charge of several automobiles and drivers. To become as efficient as possible in your work, you need an efficient solution to the vehicle routing problem.

The best way to solve it is to use a route optimization tool. Such tools leverage algorithms to determine the best routes for your vehicles.

Using software programs or telematics devices, you can pinpoint efficient routes quickly, reduce costs & travel time, and save gas.

How do you optimize your own routes?

Route optimization gets easier and simpler with route optimization systems.

Routing software and/or devices help you plan routes quickly and efficiently. They let you consider the distance, drop-off locations, traffic patterns, and delivery times.

Routing solutions even help you reduce costs by helping you locate the most fuel-efficient routes and reducing the time your drivers spend on the road.

Use Vyncs to save time and money

Vyncs is one of the most powerful and widely-used telematics devices in the USA.

Connect it to the OBD-II port of your car, download the Vyncs mobile app for Android/iOS, and gain access to features like real-time vehicle tracking, geofencing, vehicle maintenance information, driver scoring, driver safety, fuel management, and more.

Vyncs even allows you to save money on taxes, get 24/7 roadside assistance, and connect smart devices, such as Amazon Alexa and smartwatches.