Three Rights Make a Left

As part of my recent reading about FedEx and UPS, I came across the 340 methods that UPS drivers are trained in and expected to follow as part of their delivery process.

The company’s “340 Methods,” dates to the 1920s and tells drivers the most efficient way to do just about anything. (There now are more than 340.) Such as buckling your seat belt with your left hand while starting the ignition with your right, beeping your horn every three seconds when backing up for safety, which foot to step off the truck with, and which pocket to keep your pen in.

One of the ones I find most interesting is avoiding left turns. Apparently left turns are more dangerous and consume more gas.

Mythbusters even put this rule to the test:

As you can see, using right turns only resulted in driving ore miles, yet still using less gas.

UPS have designed their vehicle routing software to eliminate as many left-hand turns as possible (in countries with right-hand traffic). Typically, only 10% of the turns are left turns. As a result, the company claims it uses 10m gallons less fuel, emits 20,000 tonnes less carbon dioxide and delivers 350,000 more packages every year. The efficiency of planning routes with its navigation software this way has even helped the firm cut the number of trucks it uses by 1,100, bringing down the company’s total distance travelled by 28.5m miles – despite the longer routes.

UPS is not the only organization looking to reduce left turns. New York City is trying to solve is how to make its streets safer by reducing the number of left turns drivers make. Left turns are among the most difficult and the most dangerous. In New York City, they’re three times as likely to kill pedestrians. Back in 2015, two New York Council members are asking Google Maps to plot routes to reduce left turns. The computer would tell you to go right, then right and then right again. They figure that cutting down on the number of times a driver has to cut across several lanes of traffic will save lives. It could also give your brain a rest. A 2013 study in the Frontiers Human Neuroscience revealed that making a left-hand turn involves greater brain function than a right-hand turn.

So there you have it.

Three right turns make a left.

But they also save gas, save lives, and make you smarter.

It’s a win-win-win…



UPS SERVICE PROVIDER Industrial Engineering DELIVERY AND PICKUP METHODS Standard Practice Manual



The Conversation


*image from Transport Topics News

60 thoughts on “Three Rights Make a Left

  1. I love this. Left turns stress me out. I hit a cyclist almost 40 years ago while making a left turn on Yonge Street in Toronto. Considered the longest street in the world, it was and still is a very busy street. When all the larger vehicles cleared enough for me to make the turn, I never saw the cyclist travelling down the hill. His bike actually hit my fender and he tumbled over the hood of my car which wasn’t going fast. He was sore and missed a week of work and his bike was toast. You can imagine what that did to my insurance and my confidence. I have dreaded left turns ever since and will avoid them at all possible, including by making several rights if I can.

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  2. Hmm, I’ve never heard about the left turn thing. Now I’m going to be watching. We love our UPS driver, who often allows our dog to climb up the steps of his vehicle for a dog biscuit. When we’re not home, he leaves the package and a biscuit. How sweet is that?

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  3. The left hand turns thing makes sense. UPS seems like it knows what it is doing. Some of the 340 I’d quibble with such as hitting the horn every three seconds while backing. I’d think UPS would just install a horn or warning signal that activates automatically when in reverse. Google Maps without left turns would be confusing.

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    1. I wonder if that honking is one of the older ones and technology has replaced with automatic beeping. It would be a cool option on Google Maps, like you have a choice now to avoid tolls or highways…

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    1. that’s cool that you saw that tepisode, I think I only have seen couple. But we did haveone fo the guys as our graduation speaker a few years ago at Villanova!


  4. This may explain the recent proliferation of traffic circles where every turn is a right. Considering your vast knowledge concerning car tires, I wonder about your thoughts on uneven tire wear?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That would suit me. Of course in countries where we drive on the left this translates to avoiding right hand turns. During my brief early driving career I was fine as long as I didn’t have to go round roundabouts or turn right – or park near any other vehicles when I got there!

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  6. i remember reading an interesting stat a few years back about them – they are told to illegally park/double park wherever is most convenient, when running to drop off a package, still cheaper to take an occasional ticket, than to pay for time and parking needed to do it legally. they have millions built into their budget to cover this and still cheaper than the alternative. playing the odds and winning.

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  7. As we drive on the correct side of the road, as opposed to the right side, this means right turns for us. I’d never thought of it like this before, and I doubt that any of the delivery drivers here would be capable of following instructions like that. I was asked on my driving test how I would turn right off a motorway – sneaky!

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      1. It’s what we’re used to!

        It is a long time since I passed my driving test – 45 years – but I don’t think parallel parking was part of the test back then. The awkward bit was reversing round a corner – one of those skills you need every day, don’t you 😂


  8. The postal service does the same thing. Delivery routes are planned to avoid left turns as much as possible. Carriers are also instructed to avoid backing up as much as possible, as backing accidents account for the vast majority of traffic accidents that letter carriers are involved in.

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    1. some of those 340 are common sense, like checking your tires, wipers, gas, etc. before you start driving, that many of do now when driving a car. I’d love to live somewhere where I didn’t have to drive a car to get everywhere I want to go…

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent article, I work at UPS and we have different prescribed “methods” for each job we have. Like that article stated these methods have been around since the early 1900s, meaning they’ve been tested and measured over this past century.

    Thanks for writing a valuable article about UPS, not the usual get down on logistics.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Honestly, this was never something that crossed my mind.. Until now. Makes perfect sense and you’re not using as much gas (shockingly)! Hopefully Google maps will adopt this same concept?

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