How Does a Weigh Station Work?

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The Great American Weigh Station

  • Trucking is a vital piece of the American fabric. They haul our products from coast to coast and keep business humming. However, these trucks are heavily regulated by the Department of Transportation, and, as such, are subject to strict rules governing weight limits when running on federal highways and interstates. This is where weigh stations come into play. You've probably seen them but are unfamiliar with what happens inside. Let's lift the cover off these mysterious landmarks.

What Are They Doing?

  • Weigh stations are equipped with scales specifically designed to gauge semi-trucks. The federal maximum weight is 80,000 pounds. If the truck exceeds these regulations, penalties can be applied to either the driver or the company. This may include taking the truck off the road temporarily, and it could go as far as fines and further investigation.

Weigh Stations Then and Now

  • Previously, trucks had to pull off the highway and into a weigh station, where they had to wait. This is still the case with older stations, but technology has moved the process forward. It has now advanced to the point where a truck driver needs merely to pass over the scales for the weigh station to get an accurate reading on the total weight. This allows for less time at the station and provides an opportunity to the drivers (who are often under demanding schedules) to get back on the road and in pursuit of their destination.

The Future of Weight

  • Trucks are compelled to pull over into a weigh station only if that station is open at the time. However, many states have now implemented PrePass, which allows weigh stations to operate without stopping the trucker or pulling him off the highway. Technology in the truck, combined with high-speed scales in the roads themselves, can electronically determine weight information. If the information presented to the station is complete and meets regulations, the truck is allowed to pass. The only exception to this would be in the case of random stoppages for increased inspection.

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