Here’s my simple energy saving, traffic congestion and stress reducing piece of advice for the day: avoid left turns! Unless the road is empty, there is always a wait to make it – and in more congested areas it may even take several light cycles to get through. It’s also a safety issue – you avoid crossing the oncoming traffic, and being tempted to run that “orange” light.
Of course, the opposite advice applies in England and other countries driving on the left side. =)
I wish the GPS devices would account for this left-turn time lag when calculating your directions. Most of them will allow you to pick the shortest or quickest route, but when calculating the latter, I doubt they put in a proper left turn penalty factor. Of course, they can’t just make up a delay to use (say 30 seconds) and would have to collect and analyze traffic data to be able to do so – but maybe it could be a custom setting? Another option could be to provide you with alternate routes? Google maps already does it, although I don’t think they’re specifically addressing the left turn issue.
Speaking of technology – a few years ago UPS implemented software that allows them to efficiently plan their routes, and big part of it includes not making left turns in commercial areas.
For the record, there are some neat apps that will plan and optimize routes for you (i.e. MapQuest Route Planner) – I wish they included a left turn time delay / penalty in their calculations.
PS: If you find an app that does this, please let me know!