UPS doesn't make left turns. Yes, I know this sounds strange, but it's true. UPS has special software that maps out delivery routes and chooses courses that minimize left turns.
Sitting at stoplights waiting for lights to turn green, or waiting to cross opposing traffic when making a left turn, burns a lot of gas while the truck idles. This "no left turn" strategy, by UPS's calculations saves millions of dollars annually. The strategy may not save an individual driver a lot of gas, but with 90,000 trucks driving around every day it adds up to a lot of saved gas for UPS every year.
Why is this interesting? Because my town, Philadelphia, is one of the most un-green cities in the country. And while a "no left turn" strategy might not save an individual driver a lot of money and gas, it could save a large city municipality a lot of money with its bus, garbage truck and mail delivery routes.
Our recently elected mayor ran on a platform that heavily promoted across-the-board improvements in Philly's green-ness (more recycling, less pollution, lower energy consumption, etc.). In fact, he recently created a Green Director position within his cabinet to start overseeing implementation of these improvements. One of the programs they're not pursuing, however, is a "no left turn" strategy. How do I know this? Because I called the transportation authority and the waste management departments yesterday and after they realized I wasn't a "journalist" or a "reporter" but rather just a "concerned citizen" I had to endure three minutes of hysterical laughter, name calling, and suggestions I visit I psychiatrist, before they both hung up on me.
There is one big problem with implementing a "no left turn" strategy in a municipality and that's the initial cost of developing or buying the software. But what if UPS donated their systems to all the large municipalities in the country? UPS would receive tons of free publicity and good will for "doing the right thing" and the cities would save money, pollute less and create a better world for everyone to live in.
The only drawback for UPS is that competitors might steal their software, but the "no left turn" strategy can't be giving UPS that much of a competitive advantage anymore. Not only have FedEx and DHL implemented similar systems, but smaller delivery companies are also trying to avoid left turns. And if UPS is really concerned about losing their competitive edge, they could just "rent" the software out to the cities.
All in all, it seems like a pretty obvious and logical progam with benefits for UPS, the cities, and the world at large. Which means it's probably not going to happen anytime soon.