Trucks, Left-Hand Turns, and Why They Should Be Avoided

Trucks Left Hand Turn AccidentsYou may have not noticed before that UPS delivery trucks almost never turn left. See if you do next time you are out and driving around. It is not that UPS trucks are unable to turn left, and it is not a mandate, but there is a scientific and data-driven method behind the “no left turn” theory. UPS has noted that cutting down on left-hand turns also cuts down on truck crashes and fuel consumption, keeping UPS at the top of the pack as an efficient and safe delivery service.

An article on Big Think discusses the UPS system of routing and delivery. Because UPS delivers over 18 million packages a day, with lots of those coming to Maryland, a remarkable amount of computing power goes into deciding how to get packages to their destinations in the most efficient, quick and safe way possible. And, interestingly, one of the most efficient ways to do this is by rarely turning left.

Challenges with left-hand turns

Whether you are dealing with a passenger vehicle, delivery truck, or motorcycle, left-hand turns hold risks for all drivers. They present a variety of hazards, including:

  • Crossing lanes of oncoming traffic in order to turn
  • Forgetting to use a turn signal
  • Lack of visibility from inside the vehicle
  • Needing to make a series of judgements in a short amount of time
  • Pedestrians crossing the street or jaywalking
  • Properly gauging the speed of oncoming vehicles
  • Understanding who has the right of way
  • Trying to beat a yellow light

Making an error with any of the above can result in a truck crash or car crash with serious injuries. This is why UPS decided to approach the problem with hard data and got results.

The UPS left turn theory

Big Think’s article recalled the early days of UPS, where the company assumed that the quickest and most efficient way to get a customer a package was to simply take the most direct route. After studying the data, however, they realized they were wasting a lot of fuel idling in traffic at red lights. Additionally, drivers were experiencing many left-hand turn crashes, resulting in insurance payouts and workers’ compensation claims.

After making a policy and changing delivery routes to minimize left turns, the company saw fuel and delivery efficiency rise, and crashes decrease. UPS claims they have saved 10 million gallons of fuel a year and cut six to eight miles off each route. This equates to taking 21,000 cars off the road in terms of carbon footprint.

How do I make left-hand turns safely?

None of us can control the negligent or reckless driving of others. However, we can learn to drive defensively and safely by obeying all traffic laws and remembering these tips when facing a left turn in traffic:

  • Activate your turn signal to alert traffic you are turning
  • Do not make left turns where prohibited; it is likely dangerous
  • Ensure you have enough space to get through a break in traffic
  • If your line of vision is obstructed by other vehicles, construction, or landscape, be extra cautious
  • Make sure you can accurately gauge the speed of oncoming traffic, keeping into account some drivers may attempt to beat the light
  • Remember who has the right of way

If you or a loved one were injured in a left-hand turn crash or any other type of vehicle collision, the Maryland truck accident attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. are on your side. We can work with you to seek compensation from the negligent driver who caused your injuries. To schedule a free consultation about your case, give us a call today at 410-730-7737 or use our contact form.