It's true but not new: UPS trucks avoid left turns to save money and time

Adam E. Moreira, CC 3.0, 2006
A UPS van in New York City Adam E. Moreira, CC 3.0, 2006

Why are Travel+Leisure, Quartz and The Independent wasting their resources on this story from 2010?

Trending stories aren’t always about current events. Timeless nuggets of information or facts often get recirculated on social media well after they’re first publicized.

Take this cool fact: UPS software maps out truck routes to avoid left turns because their research has shown that it saves time and gas and prevents accidents.

Most modern vehicle routing services calculate the shortest route using distance and traffic patterns — but they don’t factor idle time or safety considerations when merging with traffic.

However, this is old news.

Back in 2010, Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters famously put the UPS software theory to the test and found that, yes, avoiding left turns saves both time and money.

CNN also reported on the UPS software later that year:

So why are Travel+Leisure, Quartz and The Independent reporting this story as new news?

UPS trucks don't turn left. Thanks for the reminder

This isn’t the first time this story has made the rounds either.

In 2014, a number of major media outlets ran new articles on UPS routing, including the Toronto Star. At least Star reporter Vanessa Lu noted that the UPS policy “has been around for years” and added a new fact: Canada Post also uses the same tactic.

Good to know. However, let’s hope we won’t be writing about this story’s unnecessary repeat round of coverage in 2020.

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