What is a Weigh Station?
Drive on any major interstate and you will eventually come across a green sign saying “weigh station”. So what are these weigh stations for anyhow?
What is a Weigh Station?
A weigh station is a designated location, typically located directly off of highways, where the Department of Transportation or state highway patrol inspects the weight of a vehicle. The reason why there are weigh stations is to ensure that the roads are not compromised by a potentially overweight vehicle. In America, the maximum weight that a truck with a full trailer can be on the road is 80,000 pounds (some exceptions). Additionally, a weigh station that is on the border of two states is called a port of entry.
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Who Has to Stop at a Weigh Station?
Any commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that weighs over 10,000 pounds is required to stop at a weigh station unless the driver has a PrePass or other weigh station bypass service. Truck drivers can use Trucker Path to check ahead and see if a weigh station is open or closed in real-time. This can be extremely valuable to help truckers save valuable time.
What Do Truckers Mean When They Say Chicken Coop?
With over 1.6 million heavy-duty truck drivers in America weigh stations can become extremely congested and can cost drivers precious time, not to mention waste fuel. Some truckers will refer to weigh stations as “chicken coops” because the large trucks are forced into a confined space prior to being weighed, like chickens in a coop.
What Happens at a Weigh Station?
When a truck driver sees a weigh station that says OPEN, he or she must exit the freeway and enter the scales to be weighed. The majority of weigh stations have a rolling scale where a truck will roll past a certain area that has a scale (could differ by state). Once a truck is weighed and verified to weigh under 80,000 pounds, the truck will be granted a green light to exit the weigh station and proceed back on its route.
After a truck goes through the scales either the DOT or state inspection officer can flag the truck for an inspection.
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
- tire tread
- oil, fuel or anti-freeze leaks
- brake malfunctions
- broken springs
- securely mounted fuel tanks
- cracks in wheels and rims
- unlocked kingpin
- hose or tubing leak
Any of these 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.
Log Book Inspection
A truckers’ truck isn’t the only thing that can be inspected. A truck drivers’ log book can also be checked by an officer to ensure the driver is keeping a daily log of his or her record and isn’t in violation of hours-of-service laws. DOT HOS regulations include:
- Maximum 11 hours of driving during a 14-hour period
- No more than 60 hours total in seven consecutive days on duty
- No more than 70 hours total in eight consecutive days on duty
- Required 10 consecutive hours off after 11 hours of driving
Changes are coming for log books. The FMCSA Electronic Logging Device mandate will begin in December. The ELD mandate requires truckers to use an ELD to keep a record of his or her log book to comply with HOS regulations. HOS fines can range from $150 to over $1,000 each.