If you are new to trucking or are not a trucker at all you may have seen these on the side of the highways or roads and wondered what they were.
What is a weigh station?
A weigh station is a checkpoint along a highway or road used to inspect vehicular weights. Usually, trucks and commercial vehicles are subject to the inspection. Weigh stations are regulated by individual state governments and therefore have vastly different requirements from state to state.
Why do we have weigh stations?
Weigh stations were primarily created to collect road use taxes before IFTA created an integrated system of doing so. While taxes can still be paid at weigh stations, their primary function is now enforcement of tax and safety regulations.
What happens in a weigh station?
Trucks are pulled in if the scales are open. Weigh stations are all equipped with truck scales, some of which are Weigh in motion and permit the trucks to continue moving in third gear while being weighed, while older scales require the trucks to stop. Occasionally trucks are picked out for inspection if something perks and officers interest or if the truck happens to be lucky number X.
Here some of the things weigh station keep track of:
- check freight carrier compliance with fuel tax laws;
- check weight restrictions;
- check equipment safety;
- check compliance with Hours of Service Regulations.
Note: There are a variety of scales employed from single axle scales to multi-axle sets. Signal lights indicate if the driver should pull over for additional inspection or if they are allowed to return to the highway. There are also portable scales.
What are portable scales?
All jurisdictions employ the use of portable scales, allowing weigh stations to be set up at any point (especially in Texas where the authorities choose to make use of these instead of a weigh station). Portable scales allow states to set up temporary scales for situations such as seasonal check points, temporary checkpoints on isolated roads often used by trucks, and help prevent drivers from avoiding scales at fixed locations. Portable scales may be set up at purpose built locations that are not normally manned. A common reason for setting up portable scales is to monitor trucks during harvest season.
What is a Port of Entry?
A weigh station located near a state border is called a port of entry. Unlike regular weigh stations, port of entries (such as wyoming and california) may also require a viewing of paperwork including cab card, insurance and bills of ladings.
What is a prepass?
PrePass is an intelligent transportation system (ITS) service that electronically verifies the safety, credentials, and weight of commercial vehicles at participating state highway weigh stations. Because they comply electronically, commercial carriers enrolled in PrePass are authorized to bypass these facilities rather than pull in for manual inspection. Whether or not a truck is bypassed through prepass has largely to do with the company's CSA score. As a result this is not a particularly useful device for newer companies.