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Weigh and check stations, who should pull into open ones?


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  • Weigh and check stations, who should pull into open ones?

    I have 2 vehicles that I normally use for work.
    I have a "2500" Sprinter and a 5500 equivalent Isuzu NQR 16 foot bobtail.
    I usually have bypassed the weigh stations in the Sprinter, but saw bobtail trucks as small as one ton pulling in.

    Whenever I'm in my Isuzu bobtail, I always pull in not knowing for sure and getting a bored expression from the weigh station operator there as I drive in.
    Meanwhile there were other 14' to 26' bobtails driving right past on the highway.

    The same is not true for Check stations like the one that was open last week on US 69 south of the Texas Oklahoma state line.
    I pulled in and got stopped and questioned every single time in my 16 footer and my boss's 24 foot bobtails.
    Can anyone here help to clear the confusion about weigh and check stations?
    In other words, who should pull into these when they are open.
    Bedtime at sunrise

  • #2

    It probably varies by state. Perhaps someone at your state police/highway patrol can steer you in the proper direction. Just because many vehicles bypass the scale, it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have to stop. Some states also have "pre-pass" transponders that allow big rigs to go on down the road without having to stop. Other folks simply don't know and think that only tractor-trailers must pull in to be weighed.

    Here in VA, trucks that have "TRUCK" license plates and dual rear wheels are supposed to stop - even something as small as a Ford Super Duty "farm type" truck. However, I do often see large straight trucks (Penske, U-Haul, etc.) bypassing the scales and troopers don't chase them down. UPS and FedEx vans are 'supposed to stop' - but often don't. Troopers probably know that those types of vehicles are seldom likely to be overweight anyway.

    In MD, the signs say "All commercial vehicles must cross scales" - which oddly includes passenger buses! I learned that on a bus trip to Atlantic City when our driver pulled into the scale. Of course, we were "green lighted" and kept on going.

    In VA, it is just trucks that must stop. Even empty flatbed trailers and unloaded car carriers must stop. I also see bobtail tractors (no trailer) pulling in, even though it would not be possible for them to be too heavy.

    When in doubt, go ahead and go through the scale. The worst that will happen is that you get the green light and continue on your way, right?

    Weighing trucks is just one function of the scale house, though, as troopers also do "on the spot" safety inspections or check a driver's log book. The scale house in Dumfries, VA (along I-95) has lighted pits dug into the ground where troopers can do a rather thorough inspection of the truck's undercarriage without having to resort to a creeper and a flashlight to examine brakes, tires, air lines, etc.

    I drove through there in a rented moving truck and the pits are next to the trucker's rest area building (bathrooms, etc.). I saw them checking out some big rigs.

    Nice to see the troopers there keeping things safe, but I feel sorry for the guy who has to get underneath a garbage truck or cattle hauler. Yuck!

    Last edited by VA Dutch; 04-02-2008, 06:26 PM.

    The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

    The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.


    "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."


    • #3
      As stated above it varies from state to state- however as a general rule all commercial motor vehicles are required to stop at scale houses / motor carrier inspection stations. Why you ask? Remember, most of the $$ that pays for your highways comes from the federal government- and as part of that agreement USDOT requires that the states enforce weight laws and motor carrier safety regulations (e.g. logbooks, medical certificates, load securement, hazardous materials regs etc)

      You wrote you are driving a work truck- so I will jump to the conclusion that you are operating in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise. If the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating that the manufacturer places on a vehicle when they build it) of the truck is 10,001 lbs or more then you are considered a commercial motor vehicle under Federal Regulations. If you are driving a combination vehicle (e.g. truck and trailer) then you add the GVWR of the truck and trailer together to see if they are 10,001 lbs GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating) or more.

      The GVWR can be found on the federal certification label generally located on the driver door jamb or right behind the driver on the interior of the truck cab.

      So- the simple answer is YES you have to stop at weigh / inspection stations or you may be subject to fines for failing to stop (some of these can be HUGE depending on the state).

      As to why other trucks don't stop- many stations have PRE-PASS and other systems in place that allow trucks to bypass the scales under monitor of a special computer system, video cameras, and radio transponder in the truck. Many of these stations are even able to weigh these trucks as they approach at highway speed with weigh-in-motion systems buried in the highway. If they are overweight the system directs them to stop at the station- the system also randomly will direct trucks to come into the stations for inspection.

      A final note- remember as a commericial vehicle you are open to inspection at any time without reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a violation exists- it doesn't just have to be at a station. Qualified officers can stop for safety inspection at any time if they choose to do so and drivers are required to produce all documents and cooperate with the inspection.
      Last edited by KAA951; 04-02-2008, 08:21 PM.
      ---Cut the red wire---


      • #4
        Originally posted by VA Dutch View Post
        In MD, the signs say "All commercial vehicles must cross scales" - which oddly includes passenger buses!
        They certainly are subject to the regs. They are considered, "Passenge carrying CMVs" instead of "Property carrying CMVs". Their rules are very similar to property carrying, with the exception of hours of service (log books).

        As for getting the green light, they ARE subject to inspection, but they don't get inspected very often because you have to find a place for all the passengers to safely go. Usually they are inspected back at their depot or wherever, so the inspector can just go down below in a pit (just like at Jiffy Lube) instead of having to use a creeper. And really, who wants to deal with 85 blue hairs on a cross country trek?


        • #5
          Given the choice, I believe I'd rather put up with the Operator's bored look, than see the red/blue lights in my rear view mirror. As noted, when you observe the weigh station sign ,pull in. If they wave you through, that's great too.


          • #6
            Originally posted by PhilipCal View Post
            Given the choice, I believe I'd rather put up with the Operator's bored look, than see the red/blue lights in my rear view mirror. As noted, when you observe the weigh station sign ,pull in. If they wave you through, that's great too.
            Looks good to me.
            I'll just keep pulling into those then.
            I mean, what the hay.....

            Last edited by 3rd_shift; 04-14-2008, 04:19 PM. Reason: more info added
            Bedtime at sunrise


            • #7
              CVSA ( Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance) has standards nationwide to train people in inspecting everything from F250's to 150k 8 axle cranes.

              California has rules to pull in if you have a special type of license and you are driving a regulated vehicle and not a big RV / limo / tour bus etc. Technically...pool service trucks should pull in even though most are small pick ups...but they carry reportable quantities of they are regulated. Stuff like that.

              If you are asking yourself if you should pull in to a scale...pull in to the scale.


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