What is a Weigh Station?
A weigh station is a chosen location that is normally found right off the highways. In here the Department of Transportation checks the weight of the vehicle. Its main purpose is to look out for potentially overweight vehicles that inflict damage upon the roads.
The maximum load that a truck can carry in the US is 80,000 pounds. There are some exceptions too regarding this rule. A port of entry is another name of a weigh station, one which is located at the border of two states.
Which vehicles have to stop at weigh stations?
Commercial motor vehicle weighing over 10,000 pounds are the ones which are required to stop at weigh stations. There are also facilities such as a pre-pass or a weigh station bypass service which truckers can use to skip the check.
There are also technological perks for truck drivers called trucker paths which basically allow truck drivers to see if the weight station ahead of them is closed or open and they get to see it in realtime. This allows them to save a lot of time.
What is the situation inside a weigh station?
America has over 1.6 million heavy-duty trucks. As you can imagine the weigh stations are extremely congested. It costs drivers a lot of time and fuel too. Truckers refer to these weigh stations as chicken coops!
It is not really hard to picture the situation inside.
What exactly happens at weigh station?
When a driver discovers that the weigh station ahead is open, they must deviate from the freeway and get inside the scales for it to be weighed. Most of them have rolling scales, the truck passes over the scale and if its weight adheres to the aforementioned weight of 80,000 pounds, the truck is given the greenlight. The truck after being weighed can also be flagged for inspection by the DOT or the inspection officer. Issues regarding the truck may include:
- Low or flat tires,
- tire tread,
- oil, fuel or anti-freeze leaks,
- brake malfunctions,
- broken springs,
- securely mounted fuel tanks,
- cracks in wheels and rims,
- unlocked kingpin, and
- hose or tubing leak.
Any violations in the above categories might lead to the truck being declared out of service. This truck will now be towed until repairs are made and a lot of paperwork has to be filled out by truckers and the repairmen for release.
It is evident that a weigh station is important in many ways and skipping them and continuing your ride might lead to consequences you surely would not want to face. To make it clear for you, the next part of the article will deal with what exactly will happen to you if you decide to skip one anyway!
What happens if you skip?
- With high-end technology, the DOT will be able to click pictures of every truck on the roadway, this might lead them to complain to the concerned company and get you fired. You surely wouldn’t want to lose your job, would you?
- The transponder in your truck will identify the person that skipped the weigh station. Pre-passes are already assigned so if you get a red light, they already know who you are.
- There are various penalties and fines depending which can vary from state to state. It also totally depends on what the DOT officer has caught you for. They can also suspend your license.
- Fines for skipping the weigh stations start from $300 and may go up if there is a fault in the equipment.
- If you stop at the exit ramp of the scale house and show your paperwork, there are high chances you will get a ticket but it also possible that they let you off easy.
- Not stopping might affect other drivers in your company. You will lose your pre-pass ability if your company’s CSA score goes too high. This will lead to a chain reaction and increase your chances of being pulled in for being scaled. This wastes your time even more.
- You might not be caught every time you skip a weigh station and there won’t always be a chaser. Unfortunately, you get caught when you least expect it so it the wiser decision to stop at one.
- Some of the States with the highest chasers are Washington, California, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Connecticut. These are the states in which you surely don’t want to skip your scaling. In other states it totally depends on your luck as mentioned before so why take a chance?
What are the levels of inspection?
- Level 1 Inspection: This will do nothing but waste your time. In this procedure, there will be a thorough check-in of your vehicle. There are things you might not find in a pre-trip that you might be detected during a Level 1 inspection.
- Level 2 Inspection: Level 2 checks are the ones where the authorities will not check anything under the truck. Simply speaking, they won’t crawl under the truck. Some of the things which will fall under inspection, in this case, are tire pressure, lights, air leaks, air lug nuts, tread depth, etc.
- Level 3 Inspection: This includes the check on the driver. In this stage, they will check if all the paperwork is up to date.
It is quite normal for you to think that the checks will do nothing but waste your time but if you really paid attention to the above points, you will understand getting caught will cost you more money and time.
So it is always better if you went through those scales and got the checks done!