UPS Delivers Gas-Saving Strategy

Standard operating procedure is not what it used to be at plenty of companies thanks to high gas prices.

UPS is known for its brown trucks. But here's something you may not know: the drivers of those trucks make it a point to only turn right. It sounds strange, but as consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen explains, the company says it's saving millions of gallons of gas.

"What can Brown do for you?" Along with getting you your packages on time, this company can teach you a thing or two about saving gas.

Christopher Broder has been a UPS driver for nearly 25 years. When the company said from now on its drivers should only make right turns, he was game.

"I'll try it," he says. "My first instinct was 'Am I going to be driving in a circle all day?'"

It may sound strange, but after years of research, UPS discovered that when its trucks made mostly right turns, it actually delivered better gas mileage.

What's the biggest difference with right turns?

"I'm not stopping a lot," he says. "I mean, I stop at stop signs, but I don't have to wait for traffic from both ways coming against me -- you're not sitting there idling waiting for traffic to clear."

Koeppen tagged along with Broder on one of his routes where there were a lot of right turns.

Instead of wasting gas sitting in traffic, avoiding left turns keeps trucks moving and drivers have found they make deliveries faster by going right.
It's also good news for UPS' bottom line. By turning right, the company says it saved over 3.3 million gallons of gasoline in 2007 alone.

"It's a huge amount, and we also shaved off a total of over 30 million travel miles for our drivers," according to Laura James, UPS' industrial engineering manager.

When absolutely necessary, drivers are allowed to make a detour and go left.

Broder says he takes his work home with him by making only right turns in his own car.

So how can you use the UPS strategy to save gas? Here are a few tips:


  • Plan your route. Think about the best way to get around when running errands.
  • Make a list of what you need so you don't end up going to the hardware or grocery store five times in a day.
  • Avoid left turns. Waiting in traffic wastes gas.
  • Turn off your car. UPS has a no idling policy. If you are going to be sitting in your car for more than 30 seconds, turn it off. You'll save gas.