Even though many truckers complain about weigh stations and the time it deducts from their schedule, weigh stations perform an important function. Weigh stations ensure a truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) doesn’t exceed maximum standards. It’s a way to prevent damage to public roads.
Trucks that are too heavy for the construction of the road and associated bridges cause an exceptional amount of damage to highways and the repair costs can be enormous. It also results in significant delay times for traffic due to repairs and construction. Truckers that exceed weight limits are assessed a fine. The stations are often used for the purpose of collecting taxes on transported goods.
Drivers are required to stop at an open weigh station and there’s typically a state police officer located nearby. If the trucker makes the decision not to stop, they run the risk of being pulled over, ticketed and will be required to return to the weigh station. Trucking companies will be fined a pre-determined amount for each pound they’re overweight. The fines increase as the amount of the overage increases. Amounts vary by state.
Weigh stations were first established following passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act in 1956. They were originally implemented to collect fuel taxes owed by commercial trucks using the road. Times have changed and weigh stations are no longer used for that purpose.
Trucking companies now file a quarterly tax report as per an International Fuel Tax Agreement. However, weigh stations are still equipped with scales and utilized to enforce weight restrictions and check the drivers’ log books.
Some weigh stations have been updated to embrace modern technology. In those instances, a truck will drive over a scale built into the right lane of the highway about a mile prior to the weigh station. An automated system, or the operator of the weigh station, will decide whether the truck has to stop at the actual station. The decision is based on the vehicle’s weight and the history of the trucking company.
Truckers that can use this type of technology have a transponder installed in the truck. A green light will appear on the transponder if they can skip the station. A red light means that the trucker will have to actually pull into the weigh station.
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