An Inside Look at Weigh Stations

New drivers or anyone interested in becoming a trucker should have some understanding of what a weigh station is and what it means. Weigh stations are checkpoints located throughout the country. The stations are designed to monitor the weight of larger vehicles and make sure they don’t compromise the integrity of the roads. The U.S. has set a maximum weight limit for each vehicle. We take a closer look at the requirements, the technology used, and what officers are looking for.

Who Stops at a Weigh Station?

Commercial vehicles that are over 10,000 pounds are required to make stops. You can invest in bypass services like PrePass to skip the line. Applications are available for drivers to confirm that weigh stations are open or closed before they arrive. Pulling in, trucks roll past an area with a scale that confirms the load doesn’t exceed 80,000 pounds. DOT (Department of Transportation) and inspection officers can give the vehicle the green light or pull it over for further inspection. They look for:

  • Low/flat tires
  • Leaks
  • Brake issues
  • Secured fuel tanks
  • Cracks in the wheels
  • And more

Breaking any of these violations and your truck could be declared “out-of-service.” New technology is helping these officers conduct inspections. Let’s take a closer look at what they will do for drivers.

Weigh Station Technology

Fixed Thermal Inspection Systems

Thermal images can help officers decide whether or not your truck is unsafe.  It’s more or less a screening system. It uses advanced technology to capture photos of the truck’s axle. The concept is supposed to help commercial vehicle law enforcement cut down on time.

Permanent cameras are fixed on both sides of a lane approaching a weigh station. Photos are taken of both the right and left side of the vehicle, and the images are sent immediately to personnel. The thermal imaging will highlight failed bearings, damaged tires, or inoperative breaks.

USDOT Number Reader

Cameras can now capture the number of your USDOT. The system and the machine use advanced devices to take a picture of the number even when you are maintaining a speed of 60 mph. It’s able to do this with a high-resolution camera and flash. Not only does it get your USDOT number, it collects your license plate, CVSA sticker, and Hazmat Placard. Once the information is taken, it’s sent to a weigh station officer who can find all the registration, permits and previous screening results on a state and federal level.

Vehicle Waveform Identification

This type of inspection is often associated with heavier trucks. It uses a magnetic force to collect a “fingerprint” of the vehicle. The information is taken at the weigh station but follows the truck anywhere in the scale house. The application can confirm that it is continually using the appropriate weight lanes. The information is stored in the system every time the truck enters the station. When using another weigh station, the previous data is accessible for review.

Lane Control Technology

Lane control technology does a couple of different things. First, it collects safety information on all semis entering the weigh station. Each station can set standards for the weight and use it to their advantage. Which brings us to the second task — sorting vehicles. After footage is taken any alert that would require inspection is sent to the driver who is notified which lane he must pull into. The technology is usually coupled with others like Waveform Identification.

Smart Roadside Screening

Smart Roadside Screening is an all-in-one package. It’s used by law enforcement officials to track all information. Rather than being just one program, Smart Roadside is a combination of different tools. It helps enforcement officials when they review data collected from various devices. A weigh station could use the thermal imaging coupled with the lane control and use Smart Roadside populate the information. What you need to know is the accuracy.

  • 94%+  Automated CVSA decal readers
  • 93%+ Automated Hazmat placard readers
  • 90%+ Automated thermal inspections for bad brakes and flat tires
  • 96%+ truck identification rates
  • 96%+ vehicle matching

The ability for these tools to accurately gather the safety information at a weigh station means drivers need to be diligent about following the regulations.

Weigh Station Law Enforcement

Drivers meet law enforcement regularly when they bring their load in for a weigh, but what is it exactly that these officers are looking for in your vehicle? The first thing they will notice is the operation of your vehicle. Most of them have been doing this for many years and are capable of recognizing the operation of a truck from miles away paying close attention to “how much bounce is in the suspension, how much the engine seems to groan on acceleration.” However, these new technologies are doing a lot of the work for them now.

Despite popular belief, there isn’t a quota each officer must meet. According to an interview with Drivewyze, one former officer confirmed each officer has a lot of discretion at his or her disposal to pull over a vehicle and what enforcement to actually take for either a citation or warning.

Truck drivers are the backbone of the American economy. Learn more about what it takes to start your truck driving career.



Beacon Transport is a truckload carrier company based in Nashville, TN that specializes in hauling non-hazardous dry freight throughout the Southeast, Midwest and Southwest.