What are Highway Weigh Stations? Everything You Need to know
Updated: Nov 7, 2021
Drivers regularly see signs for weigh stations along the highway. While passing they’ve asked themselves “what are weigh stations for?” And, “what trucks have to stop at weigh stations?”
A weigh station or DOT Vehicle weigh station or truck weigh station acts as a checkpoint for weight restriction and safety inspections. For a truck driver, they are important landmarks on their drives and are more than just something to ignore. Two things that a weigh station checks for are the gross (total) weight of the truck and a safety inspection of both the truck and the trailer. DOT can perform a visual inspection, which can be different levels ranging anywhere from level one (the most thorough) to level six (the most basic). Read further about What is FMCSA? USA DOT
Inspection of Vehicles at Highway Weigh Stations:
At a weigh station, trucks can be inspected for a variety of reasons. DOT officers or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration agents conduct a thorough equipment safety inspection to find issues with a truck including:
Low or flat tires
Oil, fuel, or antifreeze leaks
Securely mounted fuel tanks
Cracks in wheels and rims
Hose or tubing leak
Any of these above-mentioned violations can lead to a truck being declared out-of-service (among a variety of others). If the FMCSA declares a truck as out-of-service, the truck shall be towed and not operated until repairs to the violations found during the inspection are completed. Truckers will also have to have repairmen sign Form MCS63 issued by the FMCSA to verify proper repairs were made. Also, Read What is Reckless Driving? Is it a Criminal Offense? (Simplified)
How much Weight is Allowed:
Most states have requirements that any truck that weighs 10,000 pounds or more has to stop at any, and all, weigh stations. For some states, this weight can be higher, but the rule is the same - all commercial trucks should stop at every weigh station when they are open.
Purpose of Highway Weigh Stations:
The purpose of highway weighs stations concerns the compliance of semi-trucks or other large commercial vehicles. The purpose of these checkpoints is two-fold: tax purposes and safety purposes. Explore the Meaning of fleet Outsourcing?
Originally, these stations were created as collection kiosks for commercial trucks to pay fuel taxes. Now, with trucking companies paying such fees quarterly, the stations allow officials to enforce the submission of outstanding fees and paperwork.
Other tasks performed at weigh stations include ensuring carriers don’t surpass federal weight limits, (done by on-site scales), check paperwork and equipment condition, and provide wide-load escorts if necessary.
A vehicle can be flagged for additional evaluation for items such as tire condition, fluid leaks, cracked parts, or other condition violations.
Essentially, weigh stations serve as Department of Transportation inspection points. Know more about What is a Truck Stop? Everything You Need to Know
Why do truck have to weigh:
The biggest reason a truck has to weigh in on the highway is for safety. DOT weigh stations make sure that trucks driving on the roads are not too heavy, which could potentially cause damage. Certain roads, bridges, and overpasses might have a weight limit to them, and a heavy vehicle would cause structural damage to the road. Also Read: What is a Dash Cam? Everything You Need to Know
How Long is the Inspection Process:
Generally, the weigh and inspection process is handled quickly and drivers can be back on the road within a relatively short period of time. If there is any missing paperwork or violations of laws, the stop may take much longer. Read more about What Violations Leads you to pay E-challan? And How to Avoid It?
What Happens if a Truck is Found Overweight at a Weigh Station?
If a truck is overweight at a DOT weigh station, there are a variety of consequences the driver will face. They may vary by state, but there are some general standards to what you can expect:
Delay in Service: A truck driver’s time is money, and an overweight truck inspection is going to take a lot of it. If you are on a tight deadline and are caught with an overweight truck, you can almost guarantee that you won’t be on time for your delivery.
Fines: Depending on the state you are driving through, there can be harsh fines attached to driving an overweight truck. These fines can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over $10,000 per offense. In most states, repeat offenders can even pay double or triple the amount of normal fine.
Jail: In some states, driving with an overweight truck earns the driver a direct trip to jail, with a sentence up to two months. In addition to the jail time, states will revoke a driver’s CDL as part of the legal proceedings. Read also What is the meaning of Food Truck Insurance and What does it Cover?
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