Why UPS drivers don't turn left

When planning out delivery routes, United Postal Service follows one simple route: Don't turn left across traffic, reports Big Think.

The rule stems from the mind of mathematician George Dantzig, PhD, who conducted a study on optimal truck routing procedures in 1959. Mr. Dantzig developed a method of using data analysis to find the most efficient way of getting from one point to another.

While UPS first assumed the most direct route was also the most efficient, the company eventually factored in accident risks, travel time and fuel use when deciding truck routes, according to the report. UPS found left-hand turns across traffic had a higher accident risk, wasted time and used up more fuel.

By limiting left-hand turns, UPS has saved 10 million gallons of fuel, prevented the emission of 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide and delivered 350,000 more packages a year, reports Big Think.

UPS authorizes a left turn about 10 percent of the time if it's the most efficient route, such as in a residential area with light traffic or when a right turn would take the driver too far out of the way, according to the report.

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