If you are a commercial truck driver, or even rent a truck to get around, you should pay attention to the weigh stations along the highways. The weigh stations were originally set up for states to collect taxes on commercial vehicles, citing wear and tear of heavy trucks on the roads as the cause. Today, weigh stations act as checkpoints for weight restrictions and safety inspections. They ensure the safety of both trucks and other vehicles on the road by ensuring that the weight carried by a vehicle does not damage the vehicle, the road itself, or cause an accident. Heavier loads are more difficult to maneuver downhill, when turning, and when stopping. Weigh stations are also used for paperwork and equipment inspections, as well as for illegal immigration and trafficking searches.
What vehicles must stop?
Laws vary by state, but in general, commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds must stop at all open stopovers. Some companies will ship their trucks on pre-approved routes where drivers know up front if their vehicle can hit the road. The driver should stop at the scale when in doubt to avoid heavy fines if caught carrying an overweight load. If the load is below the limit, at least the inspection lets the driver know how much the vehicle’s tires can support.
Generally, commercial semi-trailers and rental vans with heavy loads will need to stop at all open weigh stations. Signs pointing to the scales will generally indicate the gross vehicle weight (GVW) needed to get through the weigh stations, and most rentals will have it printed on the side. Laws for vehicles and specific weights vary by state, according to AAA:
Alabama: An officer may require a truck or trailer to be weighed with portable or stationary scales, and may order a scale truck if it is within 5 miles.
Alaska: Trucks exceeding 10,000 pounds. must stop.
Arizona: GVW rates apply for trailers and semi-trailers 10,000 pounds or more; commercial trailers or semi-trailers; motor vehicles or combinations of vehicles if passengers are used or transported in exchange for compensation (excluding school buses or charities); vehicles that transport hazardous materials; or a hearse, ambulance, or similar vehicle used by a funeral home. Additionally, any produce shipped to the state can be inspected for agricultural pests.
Arkansas: Agricultural vehicles, passenger or specialty vehicles of 10,000 pounds or more, and commercial trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds must stop at inspection and weigh stations.
California: All commercial vehicles must stop to inspect for size, weight, equipment, and smoke emissions wherever the California Highway Patrol is testing and where signs are posted.
Colorado: Any owner or driver of a vehicle with a GVW rating or gross combined weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds. Requires clearance from a DOR office, Colorado State Patrol officer, or port of entry weigh station prior to use within the state.
Connecticut: All commercial vehicles, regardless of weight, must stop.
Delaware: The secretary of the Department of Public Safety may adopt weight regulations and procedures as necessary for law enforcement weighing purposes.
Florida: Agricultural, motor vehicles, including trailers that are used or could be used in the production, manufacture, storage, sale or transportation of any food or agricultural, horticultural or livestock product, except private passenger cars without a trailer, travel trailers, camping trailers, and motorhomes must stop; So must commercial vehicles with a GWR of more than 10,000 pounds, made to carry more than 10 passengers or to transport hazardous materials.
Georgia: Agricultural vehicles, passenger or specialty vehicles of 10,000 pounds or more, and commercial trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds must stop at inspection and weigh stations.
Hawaii: Trucks in excess of 10,000 pounds gross weight must stop.
Idaho: 10 fixed entry points are available with 10 mobile units for weighing.
Illinois: Police officers can stop …