If you were asked to carefully imagine your route to and from work, school or other daily destinations, there’s a good chance you would find that you make a fair number of left turns on your route.
If you were next asked to re-imagine your route without any left turns, chances are pretty good that you would think this to be a silly exercise, and that taking such a route would cost you precious time and money.
As it turns out, however, this might not necessarily be the case.
Consider the experience of the shipping giant UPS, whose brown trucks can regularly be seen on the roads and highways here in Virginia and throughout the U.S. While you probably never noticed it, the company has a policy in which drivers attempt to make only right turns — wherever possible and practical — roughly 90 percent of the time as a means of saving time, gas and money.
While this may seem like an impossibility, UPS officials have indicated that it’s proven remarkably successful in achieving all three of these goals.
“We’ll never have a person turn left to deliver on that side,” said a UPS senior vice president. “We’ll have someone go down the right-hand side and someone coming back down the right-hand side to avoid those left-hand turns. And that’s where you get stuck in traffic trying to come back across.”
UPS also claims that the limited left turn policy is altogether safer, cutting down on both the number of truck accidents and pedestrian accidents.
Interestingly enough, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration actually seem to support the theory that left turns are inherently more dangerous:
- The agency found that 53.1 percent of crossing-paths motor vehicle accidents involved left turns and only 5.7 percent of crossing-paths motor vehicle accidents involved right turns.
- The agency found that 36 percent of deadly motorcycle accidents involved left turns in front of cyclists.
Based on these figures, it should be interesting to see whether more companies adopt polices like these, or even whether local governments start designing new streets with fewer left turns in an attempt to save lives and prevent serious personal injuries.
Source: The Washington Post, “The case for almost never turning left while driving,” Matt McFarland, April 9, 2014