Last week, a truck driver from Florida hit a bridge on the Merritt Parkway near the New York-Connecticut line, spilling the cargo, a load of butter that melted in the ensuing fire. The Parkway was closed for most of the day while the mess was cleared.
Semi-trucks are not allowed on the Parkway, and, according to the news report that quoted a Connecticut State Police spokesperson, the driver would have known that had he been using a commercial GPS system. However, he was using his cellphone, and that GPS does not provide information about highway restrictions.
Operating a large truck on the parkways and highways around New York City is a challenge for any truck driver, even if that driver is based in the Greater New York metro. The volume of traffic, the varying bridge heights and the population density make driving a truck in New York City an adventure even for the most experienced driver. Throw in the special rules that apply in the metro area, and this takes truck driving in New York to a whole new level.
A quick scan of the table of contents of the section of NYC traffic laws dealing with truck routes gives an idea of the complexity of the rules. There are special truck routes, not only in each borough, but in particular neighborhoods of each borough. Manhattan, for example, has special rules for little Italy, Chinatown and Greenwich Village, to name but a few.
Restrictions depend on the size of the truck – its length, its weight and the number of axles. Drivers need to know about the hours in which certain restrictions apply. They need to be aware of the restrictions that apply to through trucks and those that apply to local trucks. And that’s just in the city. The parkways around New York have different restrictions depending on the particular parkway – the heights of bridges, the width of the roadway and the type of access.
Then there are the permits, issues related to tunnels, and where a truck can and cannot park to unload and a host of other regulations. When you consider the challenges and knowledge required to drive a truck in and around New York, it is amazing that more trucks are not involved in accidents.