If you aren’t immersed in the trucking world, the purpose of highway-side weigh stations can be mysterious and obscure. Many motorists are happy to continue their road-trips without a clue as to how these stations protect the roads they drive on or the tax-rates that they pay for goods and services. For those of us who are interested in the purpose of weigh stations, we’ve compiled a list of services they provide and will walk through them one by one. Let’s get started.
Weigh stations help keep haul weight low to maximize road safety
Every road built has a weight limit, regardless if it’s publicly listed or not. Under high enough pressure from too high of a weight, road materials crack and create potentially deadly dips and spikes in the otherwise flat roadway. Prevention of these cracks is the primary reason for road weight restrictions, and weigh stations ensure that tractor trailers do not exceed these weight restrictions. The exact numbers involved in these restrictions vary state to state and often depend on which road materials were used in the road’s construction. However, every weigh station is fitted with scales that know when a load is too heavy, and any load in excess of 80,000 lbs requires an overweight permit issued by the federal government.
Ensure trucks are in compliance with fuel tax law
Many U.S. states require transportation truck drivers to have proof of fuel tax compliance. Such compliance is usually proven by government issued documents kept in the driver’s cab or on their person. Typically (but not always) drivers are required to follow the tax regulation laws of the haul’s origins. Weigh station operators are trained in the specifics and nuances of fuel tax law and are often the best source of information on compliance.
Help determine if drivers are adhering to Hours of Service Regulations
For the safety of both the trucker and the non-trucker, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) sets particular laws to limit the number of maximum hours a transportation vehicle can be driven. Information on these laws can be found on the FMCSA’s website, and part of the weigh station operator’s job is to ensure drivers are following such laws.
It’s important to remember that weigh stations in one state can operate very differently from those in another state. While federal regulations do exist to limit excessive state allowance, steps required to adhere to both federal and state law can and will lead to different procedures in the weigh stations of one state and the weigh stations of another.