Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Can Right Turns Do For You?

United Parcel ServiceGas is almost four freaking dollars a gallon here. (And for God's sake, if you live in Europe or some little island somewhere that the gas prices are astronomical and you're thinking about telling me that you pay $8, $9, $10 and more for a gallon of gas, please don't. I know that you pay a lot more for gasoline than I do. But how is that knowledge supposed to help me feel better about getting reamed in the arse by paying almost four bucks a gallon? It's all relative, people. I'm not in Europe, I'm not European. I don't plan on being European. So I really don't give a crap if they're paying $10 a gallon in Europe. I'm still stuck paying almost four bucks a gallon here and I'm pissed about it.)

I'm not the only one complaining (surprising, I know). Businesses have had to try to figure out ways to cut their gasoline consumption because the higher prices are starting to eat into their ridiculously astronomical profits. Airlines, for example, are flying slower to save gas. I find that to make sense, unless I'm on the plane in which case I want the thing to break the sound barrier to get me to where ever it is that I'm going as soon as possible because I don't like to fly. (I'm not fond of zipping around 35,000 feet above the ground in a pressurized metal tube.) So since airlines are flying slower, it makes sense that companies that do business on the ground might have similar means of saving fuel. Like UPS. What can brown do for you? Well, they can re-route all of their delivery trucks so that they make mostly right turns. Of course they can. Wait. What?

The guys over there at UPS use some sort of route-cutting technology that makes it so the drivers make as few left turns as possible. And what does that do? Other than make you feel like a NASCAR driver going the wrong way? Well, in 2007, UPS was able to save 3 mUPS does not deliver on Sundaysillion gallons of gasoline by turning right. They also claim to have been able to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 32,000 metric tons, but since there isn't a standard method for calculating that at the moment, I'm going to just be in awe of their saving 3 million gallons of gas. Holy petroleum. (Look, if you throw the words "reduce", "carbon", and "emissions" into a claim or a statement, it gives all of those "go green" people such a big boner that it won't go down for days. You don't even have to back up your claim or have any method of calculating and concluding your figures. But if it sounds environmentally friendly and extremely trendy, everyone assumes it must be good. And it might be. But until we're all figuring these things out the same way, I don't want to hear it. So put that way and put your pants on.)

OK, let's review what we've learned so far. Turning Right = Good. Turning Left = Bad. But why is that? It's because if you're not sitting in the left turn lane waiting to turn left, your engine isn't idling and your fuel isn't being used. Thus, you're saving gasoline and not emitting as much crap into the air. In addition to saving gasoline and cutting harmful emissions, turning right reduces the chance of an accident, as you're not crossing traffic when you're turning right. Who knew a bunch of guys in little, ugly brown shorts could come up with such an innovative method of fuel conservation?

I think it's pretty darned nifty that UPS has been able to successfully implement this idea. I sure do 3,000,000 gallons of gasoline saved can't be wrong.wish it was possible to do with every route. But, alas, it is not. I know this because I tried an RTO (Right Turn Only) improvisation on one of the routes that I drive frequently. It sounded like a good idea, but it was technically unsuccessful. I say "technically" because it WAS possible, but only if I were to circumnavigate the globe like Magellan did. And I have a hard time believing that sort of re-routing is going to save me anything except for having to turn left. But for the UPS guys? Those three million gallons of gasoline that they saved makes the RTO the RTTD (Right Thing To Do).

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