Drivers across the US are accustomed to seeing truck weigh station signs on the highways. Even then, many are unaware of the purpose of weigh stations. Well, a weigh station is like a checkpoint, where officials inspect the weight of the passing trucks. These are done by officials of the Department of Transportation, or the state highway patrol teams.
Usually, DOT weigh stations are located just off the highways. They consist of a weighing scale as well as a scale house or office. The inspectors read the weight of the truck from this office. You can find truck weigh stations near state borders, too. These help ensure the trucks or commercial vehicles coming in from the other states are compliant with local laws and guidelines.
The highway weigh stations are usually fixed, although portable scales aren’t uncommon. These are set up in areas where many trucks pass through to ensure that drivers cannot flout the weight regulations. Apart from this, weigh stations are also commonly found in areas that have higher traffic congestion.
What Are DOT Weigh Stations For?
So, what are weigh stations for? Well, truck weigh stations play an important role in ensuring that each commercial vehicle passing through is following the laws and safety guidelines set by the state.
The main motive behind this is to ensure that the weight of the truck is within the limit of what the road or highway can handle. You see, a truck that is way over the prescribed weight limit causes a higher level of damage to the roads, which can be quite expensive for the state to repair.
In addition, an overweight truck has a greater chance of causing the highway bridge to collapse, which may compromise the safety of all the commuters. As per the weigh station rules, all trucks with an overall weight of under 80,000 pounds are allowed to pass through the checkpoint without any hassle.
But that’s not all, several states calculate taxes on goods transported based on the weight of the cargo.
Knowing about the weigh station procedure is important, too, if you want to choose truck driving as your profession. Apart from weighing the truck on the scale to determine its gross weight, the officials may also choose to carry out a more comprehensive DOT inspection. These may range from level 1 to level 6, with the former being the most detailed.
The DOT inspection consists of checking all parts of the vehicle to ensure that they are in good working order. The official may opt to check the exterior or interior of the vehicle, or both – depending on the level of inspection.
In addition, officials may also go through the driver’s credentials and other documents to ensure their validity. They might even run tests to identify any signs of drug or alcohol abuse.
Who Has to Stop at Weigh Stations?
Even though truck weigh stations have become an integral part of highways, you must have noticed that not all vehicles stop at them. So, one might naturally feel confused about what trucks have to stop at weigh stations? Well, most states have rules in place regarding who has to stop at weigh stations. Usually, all trucks and commercial vehicles that are equal to 10,000 pounds in gross weight or more need to halt at these stations.
But, it should be kept in mind that there may be exceptions to these rules. Therefore truck drivers need to make themselves aware of the laws and guidelines of the states they drive through.
If you aspire to be a truck driver, it’s crucial to know what a weigh station is. Further, you also need to understand how do weigh stations work. Do drivers have to stop at every weigh station during their travels? Well, the answer is yes! All heavy trucks and commercial vehicles are required to stop at any weigh station that is open.
You might wonder what happens if they don’t? In that case, they have a risk of getting caught by law enforcement near the highway to spot such offenders. They will be given a ticket for the unlawful act and sent back to get weighed on the scale.
Therefore, unless a weigh station is closed, it’s best not to avoid it. Usually, weigh stations may be closed if there is too much traffic congestion. This is usually to avoid slowing down the traffic movement further. Truck drivers need to keep a lookout for signs or light indicators to identify whether it’s open or closed.
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