Any time you’re operating in what’s called the “Eastern Seaboard”, basically anything within 100 miles west of I-95, you really do need your head on a swivel. If you’re just passing through, say going from Florida, Georgia or the Carolinas back to Canada, you’ll likely be okay so long as you stay on the interstates. If you need to deliver or pick up anywhere between the Washington DC and Baltimore, MD metroplex and New Haven, CT, you really have to be careful and be aware of your surroundings.
Most shippers and receivers operate after normal business hours, usually starting between 10 pm and midnight, so it’s a little easier (less traffic) for the trucks to get in and out. When you call to get good, reliable directions, verify their working hours. One meat place in Lower Manhattan only received trucks from midnight until 4 am, as that was the only time traffic was light. Due to their location, the only way in was right through the heart of Manhattan, straight down Broadway Ave and through Times Square and the theatre district.
The entire area is literally thick with low bridges, so again, be sure you know exactly where you’re going, and follow the directions exactly. Using mapping software like Google or Apple Maps can help you by announcing upcoming street names far enough in advance to allow you to get into the proper lane. Do not, however, follow the mapping software regarding the route. In New York City, all parkways are restricted non truck routes. Don’t even think for a second that you can scoot along a parkway and save a few minutes, as you will, not might, but WILL hit a low bridge. Parkways were built with low bridges to keep trucks off them. Even so, there’s at least 5 trucks a day hitting bridges on parkways in New York City.
Keep your doors locked at all times when off the interstate in these areas. Most neighborhoods are okay, but sometimes you have to transit, or worse, service a not so good area. I once had a police officer in Baltimore tell me: “If someone runs into the road to get you to stop, run his (butt) over. We’ll clean him up later.”. Some hoodlums will take drastic measures to get you to stop, from rolling dumpsters in front of you, to climbing on the hood and blocking the windshield, to actually causing a wreck in an attempt to force you to stop. Take whatever means you see fit to avoid having to stop. Sometimes, they can even steal from the trailer while you’re moving at highway speeds. If you notice anything nefarious around your truck & trailer, call 9-11 immediately.
Most big cities have a 24/7/365 am news radio station that provides traffic and weather conditions every 10 minutes. A quick google search should bring you up a list of such stations along your route. I remember 3 off the top of my head: WCBS 780 in New York, WBBM 680 in Chicago and KYW 1060 in Philadelphia. Of course, Toronto has one at 680 am as well.
In short, keep your wits about you when you have to service the eastern seaboard. It a great place to pick up and deliver, just be mindful of the traffic, and the potential for trouble.
Exiting to Bruckner Ave in the Bronx
Not a fun place to be with a tractor trailer.
Not an easy place to back into, but fairly typical in New York City. This is in The Bronx area. Not a place to be after sunset.