Weigh stations are intended to keep roads safe, but time is money for commercial fleets and unplanned stops can disrupt schedules. When a trucker arrives at a weigh station, he knows the stop is going to hold-up his day by several minutes or more. If the highway has a few weigh stations, the time lost can add up to cancellations, something no trucker or fleet manager wants.
There are about 680 weigh stations in the U.S. and as a general rule, any truck that weighs more than 10,000 pounds is supposed to stop. The rules can vary greatly by state and location; drivers are required to know before hitting the road. For example, in Colorado trucks under 26,0000 pounds don’t have to stop at weigh stations, whereas in Montana, trucks over 8,000 pounds do. Massachusetts and New York are the only states that do not have permanent weigh stations.
Regardless of the state, the U.S. has set the national weight maximum for trucks at 80,000 pounds. When a truck is over the limit, the driver is hit with paying for a one-time excess weight permit to offset highway wear and tear.
The federal government requires commercial vehicles to be weighed and inspected to ensure proper adherence to safety guidelines. Managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), weigh stations are intended to keep overweight trucks off the roads.
When a truck pulls into a weigh station, officials from the DOT or the Department of Motor Vehicles examine both the tractor and its freight to find the gross vehicle weight rating. Officials then perform one of six levels of visual inspections, with Level 1 being the most comprehensive.
Weigh station officials also:
Weigh stations were first launched to help states collect taxes from trucks driving through. Those fees are now collected quarterly by the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) system. Hawaii is not required to participate.
The time saved by being able to bypass a weigh station is a good incentive to keep your fleet’s safety scores high. By implementing a bypass service for truck weigh stations, your drivers can skip the weigh-in if the fleet has a certain safety score and has passed state and federal pre-screening criteria.
Each bypass service works a little differently, but the general gist is that the system will alert truckers whenever a weigh station or mobile inspection site is coming up. If the location participates with your bypass system, the driver will be alerted to either skip it or pull in. Bypass services are usually integrated with an app that provides real-time weigh station data — locations, hours, parking, wait times and more.