What Happens If You Miss a Weigh Station?
January 26, 2023
Weigh stations are an essential part of keeping the trucking industry safe and can be found along highways from coast to coast. But why exactly are they so important? In brief, weigh stations do exactly what their name suggests: namely, ensuring that a truck is not overweight and is in full compliance with state and national regulations regarding weight safety.
The weight of a truck is usually measured by two factors:
- Axle weight: the weight placed on each of the truck’s tandem axles
- Gross weight: measuring the total weight of the truck’s load including any additional accessories carried by the tandem axles
Ensuring that a truck is not carrying an oversize load keeps drivers from taking their trucks onto roads that cannot handle the weight. It also helps prevent repairable damage, that could end up being costly, to roadways, bridges, and other public infrastructure.
Penalties for Missing a Weigh Station
Missing a weigh station can have serious consequences for the safety of the driver, the truck, and the roadway. It can also mean financial and legal implications if an incident occurs later on top of the initial fee for missing the weigh station. What, then, are some possible penalties for failing to stop at a weigh station?
- Weigh stations are overseen by the Department of Transportation in their requisite states, thus the exact fines for skipping a weigh station vary from state to state. Generally speaking, the fine tends to run in the range of $300; however, the impact on your fleet’s safety score can carry hidden costs that are more long-lasting.
- Drivers run the risk of having their license suspended.
- It can affect the truck company’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability program that encourages safety on roadways) score and, as a result, it will impact other drivers in the company.
- Drivers run the risk of being fired or put on probation. Most fleet companies have zero tolerance for this.
- Drivers may be asked to turn their trucks around and return to the missed weigh station, resulting in vital lost travel time. Once returned to the weigh station, the truck may be subject to an inspection. With increased traffic at the weigh station, the driver’s chance of being chosen for a Level 1 DOT Inspection may increase, after which further financial and legal penalties may accrue depending on the truck’s compliance with DOT regulations. (For a full guide to the DOT Inspection levels, see here.)
FAQs About Missing a Weigh Station
Aside from the possible legal and financial penalties which may result from missing a weigh station, here are some other frequently asked questions and answers about the topic.
Do I have to pull in when the truck is empty?
Yes. Even trucks not carrying a load will be asked to stop at the weigh station. Therefore, it is best to stop whether your truck is full or not.
Can I go to jail for skipping a scale?
While it is unlikely that a driver will be charged on a first offense for skipping a weigh station, it is best practice to avoid it and always make the stop. A driver who has been pulled over multiple times for missing a station is only increasing the possibility of further legal action against them. Besides this, weigh stations are capable of contacting a driver’s company in the event of them skipping a station, which may lead to suspension, probation, or termination. For more information about the legal issues surrounding this matter, see some resources from the FMSCA here.
Am I immune if I couldn’t merge for safety reasons?
Of course, it is always best to drive safely and securely; however, being unable to merge does not absolve a driver from skipping a weigh station. The best practice in this scenario would be to continue driving past the station before turning back if the conditions do not allow you to merge immediately. The same can be said of drivers who accidentally miss a weigh station: the sooner you realize, the easier it will be to turn around and get weighed.
How to Avoid Missing a Weigh Station
Fortunately for drivers and fleet managers alike, technology is improving all the time, meaning it is easier than ever for drivers to track their route and ensure they do not miss a weigh station.
Drivewyze provides drivers with a free and easy resource to solve this problem through their PreClear app: a nationwide, costless weigh station alert service. By downloading the app, drivers will be able to receive alerts before weigh stations to ensure they do not miss them.
Drivewyze also offers a weigh station bypass service which provides drivers with the opportunity to bypass over 800 fixed weigh stations across the country and in Canada. This service has a multitude of benefits, including improving efficiency and reducing penalties from missing weigh stations.
Have more questions about weigh stations, truck safety, or other driver responsibility topics? Drivewyze offers a wide range of solutions, resources, webinars, and other support for all those involved in the industry. Contact us today to learn how we can support your fleet!