If you’re new to the trucking industry, you learned about weigh stations during your driver training sessions. You’ll also hear about them from other drivers or, if you’re leased on to a motor carrier or freight broker, from your supervisor or dispatcher.
As you know, a weigh station is a checkpoint along a highway that requires any commercial vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds to stop for weighing and inspection when that weigh station is open. Most weigh stations today have scales which allow the truck to continue moving while they drive over the truck scale to expedite the weighing process.
Here are some quick points about weigh stations:
- Weigh stations were first built to collect road use taxes. Today the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) system has streamlined those payments, although you can still pay fuel taxes at weigh stations.
- Weigh station personnel enforce weight and safety regulations, including hours of service regulations and equipment condition. When a truck is over 80,000 pounds, the driver pays for a one-time use excess weight permit to offset the extra wear and tear on the state’s highway surfaces.
- Officers at these weigh stations may want to check your logbooks or electronic logging device (ELD) to ensure that hours of service requirements are being followed. They may want to look at the paperwork for that load and check that fuel taxes have been paid on a regular basis. They will also look for low or flat tires, tire tread problems, leaks, brake problems, fuel tank problems, and other maintenance and safety issues.
- Truck scales have become more sophisticated, ranging from single axle scales to multi-axle scales. Typically after you drive over the scale, a light will come on overhead or beside the truck to signal if your truck needs additional inspection or you are finished and can keep driving.
- Truck stops are run by the each state, not the federal or local government. Weigh station management falls under a state’s Department of Transportation (DOT) or Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- While you are very likely to see weigh stations on interstate highways near state borders, sometimes you can encounter a portable weigh station set up off the beaten track on smaller roads to catch people avoiding the highway weigh stations.
A growing number of motor carriers are choosing to set up their truck with an electronic weigh station bypass system, such as PrePass, Drivewyze, or NORPASS. These systems feature toll road pass-style transponders that send the information on that particular truck to the weigh station’s computers.
Two other technology aids for truckers are mobile apps that tell you which weigh stations are open or closed, such as ScaleBuddy or TruckerPath, and load board websites that help them find loads. Some weigh stations apps and load board sites charge subscription fees, but FreeFreightSearch.com, the world’s largest completely free load board, provides freight matching at no cost. Motor carriers can search for and claim loads and freight brokers can post loads for free. Register now at FreeFreightSearch.com.