No Left Turns

Nancy Anderson
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Apart from the rather obvious NASCAR jokes I’m very tempted to make, it’s been a bit of a personal obsession since I learned to drive. Left turns, to me, always seemed to be inherently more dangerous and less efficient from a drive-time standpoint than just circling the block, or planning a route ahead of time to minimize on left turns.

It’s always nice to read things that vindicate my opinion. Smithsonian Magazine and Gizmag both have run articles about newly published study from North Carolina State University regarding so-called “Superstreets”, or restricted-crossing U-turns. As it turns out, preventing people from making left turns across multi-lane, divided streets reduces the number of intersection accidents by 46% on average.

As Smithsonian points out, UPS also does route planning to minimize the number of left turns their drivers need to make in order to decrease fuel consumption per trip. Actual savings that bore out in a test devised by Discovery television's Mythbusters team on an episode from 2009. Smithsonian also links to an article disputing the actual monetary savings that come from a route that favours right-hand turns, it seems to me that any short-term study or small-scale routing exercise pales in comparison to the sort of mileage UPS has to mine for information on the problem. The line to dispute the applicability of any test run on Mythbusters forms to the right.
Road sign image user TheTruthAbout, and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
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Mike Wrightly is mostly diesel fumes and duct tape; he grew up around heavy equipment, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering.



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