All truck drivers become more familiar with weigh stations that they would probably like, however, they are a vital part of safety enforcement on commercial vehicles on our roadways throughout the country. Same as the department of motor vehicles (DOT) has safety regulations for all cars, there are special regulations put into place for commercial trucks by the FMCSA as well. Here we will be exploring what the purpose of a trucking weigh station is, how to know if you need to stop at one, the penalties for not stopping, as well as the overall benefits of weight stations.
Weigh stations are placed at various points throughout our nation’s highway system and operated by the state’s department of transportation and state highway patrol. When a weigh station is open all commercial drivers are required to exit and enter the scales to be weighed. This is to verify that the trucks are operating under a weight of 80,000lbs. Once that is verified they will be signaled with a green light allowing the driver to proceed on his way. Some drivers may be selected to be pulled over or diverted to a holding area to undergo a DOT inspection as well. You also can’t always trust the truck scales at some of the truck stops around, as they may not be entirely accurate, but the scales at the weigh station are legally binding.
Weigh stations are generally equipped with open and closed signs posted prior to the station’s exit. If the sign reads closed then the drivers are able to continue down the highway without stopping. However, if the sign reads open then by law they must exit the highway and go through the scales and follow the prompted instructions. There are some variables in here as well though. One of those is known as a bypass service also known as a prepass. You can find these devices through services such as Drivewyze, or even offered through some of the modern ELD systems in addition to the log book services. Some include a prepass transponder as well. Another perk to the bypass system is that it will also get you through some port of entry locations much quicker as well. This service will judge your company’s motor vehicle safety record and give you the ability to bypass most truck weigh stations depending on that score. At that point trucks are mainly pulled in when they are due for a safety inspection. It is important to note here though that if you are running an oversized load, meaning you are hauling over the standard size or weight limit restrictions, you must pull into every weigh station whether you have a prepass or not. Overweight trucks do not qualify for the ability to pre pass the weigh stations.
Keep in mind that if you skip a weigh station when you are directed to enter it, or are found to be in any violation such as safety infractions or hours of service issues, etc. you can be issued a fine from the weigh station.
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