Weigh Stations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Weigh Stations: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

While opinions will differ from driver to driver, weigh stations are a part of the job when it comes to being a commercial truck driver. And while they can certainly be an inconvenience, especially when delivery schedules are already running tight, they do serve a very important purpose when it comes to keeping the road safer for commercial and passenger vehicles alike. 

In terms of why a weigh station is important is because they keep overweight vehicles off the roads. Overloaded trucks can cause significant damage in a short amount of time due to the fact that they are less maneuverable, slower to stop or accelerate, more likely to roll over or jackknife, and are typically more prone to equipment failure like tire blowouts. All of these conditions significantly raise the risk of traffic accidents which are quite often deadly. 

How Air-Weigh Can Help

SAVE TIME & MONEY: An investment that pays for itself and then quickly begins to pay towards the bottom line going forward.

MAXIMIZE EVERY LOAD: Every Air-Weigh scale is incredibly accurate, measuring specific axle group weights at the loading site.

DATA MANAGEMENT: Advanced communication capabilities and integration helps smarter business decisions to be made. Get the data that you need when you need it.

The Ugly

Despite them serving an important role in the transportation industry, weigh stations aren’t a favored stop for truckers. Weigh stations take important time from an already cramped schedule, especially with tight limitations on Hours of Service. 

The cost per mile for truckers to go to out-of-route weigh stations varies from state to state and just how far out of their way they have to go. According to statistics from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the average cost per mile is about $1.82 but can vary depending on distance and fuel costs. While it might not seem like much, depending on the number of open weigh stations a truck passes en route, those costs can add up fairly quickly. 

It’s not just a monetary cost, either. There’s also time to consider. With the exception of a PrePass, trucks never know whether they are going to have to go through the full inspection or just be waved through. The time spent in a weigh station also varies from state to state, with some states like West Virginia being decidedly faster with their weight checks than Massachusetts at 3 minutes and 44 seconds vs. 6 minutes and 33 seconds, respectively. While it might not seem like a lot of time, this can quickly add up depending on the route a driver takes. 

The Bad 

Highways tend to be one of the most convenient methods of travel for commercial vehicles as it provides the most direct route. However, most major highways or frequently traveled paths for commercial vehicles will inevitably have at least one weigh station, although there could be decidedly more for long hauls. This leaves trucking companies and independents with only a few options. 

On the one hand, the driver could simply take the time and stop at every single open weigh station they pass. While it does add some time and cost to the route, it is the most direct path to their destination. 

An alternative option is to plan the route in such a way as to avoid any way stations. The implications of such a circuitous route notwithstanding, it would cut down on the number of stops at the expense of potentially adding more miles to the trip.

The third option is to utilize a PrePass system, which allows trucks that have been precertified to bypass the scales. However, there are some downsides to a PrePass, including a subscription fee as well as some potential technical issues, including a clunky interface. 

The Good

The good part about weigh stations is that they do more than just check to see if your load is overweight. Weigh stations can also conduct safety checks on equipment, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Fuel tanks
  • Breaks
  • Kingpin
  • Rims/wheels
  • Springs
  • Tires
  • Tubing/hoses

These checks can, at the very least, alert a driver to an impending problem that could lead to a breakdown in the future or prevent a potentially catastrophic equipment malfunction. 

While they might seem like a hassle, weigh stations are there to help keep the roads safe and provide a very important service. 

Making Weigh Station Stops Quick and Painless

Weigh stations are only going to get busier as the demand for logistics and freight transportation continues to grow. Fortunately, there are a few quick and easy things you can do to help speed the process along. 

Performing pre-haul equipment checks is always a good habit to get into and can save you from a costly breakdown. It can also help to avoid being stalled at a weigh station due to an inspection failure. 

The single most important thing a driver can do is to make sure their load is the appropriate weight and properly distributed. Using an Air-Weigh On-board scale takes all the guesswork out of weigh checks and gives the driver the peace of mind in knowing they won’t have to worry about what they’ll find when they hit the scales. 

How Air-Weigh Can Help

SAVE TIME & MONEY: An investment that pays for itself and then quickly begins to pay towards the bottom line going forward.

MAXIMIZE EVERY LOAD: Every Air-Weigh scale is incredibly accurate, measuring specific axle group weights at the loading site.

DATA MANAGEMENT: Advanced communication capabilities and integration helps smarter business decisions to be made. Get the data that you need when you need it.

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