As a general motorist on the interstate highways you encounter many road signs. Searching for a photo of a weigh station sign I came across this blog post by J Lloyd Morgan. I have to admit a few of the signs I’ve not seen in all my traveling.
This is about weigh stations.
Department of Transportation (DOT) requires all states to do spot checks on the truck traffic on the highways. Some states continue the old name of the weigh stations – Port of Entry. The reason for this is the inspection stations are located at, or near, the state boundaries along the length of Federal and State highways.
As you drive the interstates and state highways you encounter a fast moving big truck that just has to squeeze itself in front of you. Then the blasted thing slows down. You have a few choice words and gestures for this RUDE bully. That truck gets off the highway to follow other trucks down a ramp only to drive past a building.
If you continue on the highway you might see that big truck bully pass you. Maybe you have wondered what the heck is up with that?!
The reason for these spot checks is for the safety of the traveling public. The safety of everyone.
The DOT Officers, at these “Chicken Coops” as they are known by truck drivers, are checking the weight bearing loads on each of the axles of the truck and trailer.
Most truck traffic has a total legal loaded weight of 80,000 pounds. Some scales are constructed to enable the full truck and trailer to rest on the scale to get the total weight. Other scales weigh one axle at a time then calculate the total weight.
In Kansas on I-35 at the Oklahoma/Kansas border is set up to weigh each axle
As we drive over the scale we have to watch the signals and message boards for instructions, if any, posted by the DOT Officer. Most scales have a green and red traffic light set up to act as the information source. In Kansas there is a loud speaker the officer will use to verbally communicate to the truck driver.
As the truck passes the windows of the weigh station office many things are being checked, other than the weight. The officer looks at the tires for wear or damage and any defective equipment that could be a source of trouble should it fall off or break. If there is a question or concern the officer will have the driver pull off and park.
The truck and trailer will be inspected by an officer who brings a “creeper” board to lie on and roll under the truck being inspected. The officer will check the brake mechanisms, headlights, tail lights, brake and turn signals. If anything checked during the inspection is found to not be in working order the driver will have to get the repairs made right there, in the weigh station parking lot, before he/she can proceed.
Sometimes log books and medical cards are checked by the officers. Any problem, mechanical or document, CAN be grounds for an Out of Service Order. An Out of Service order means the truck and trailer are going nowhere for 10 hours.
When all is well, from drive on weight inspection or full blown inspection, the truck and trailer make their way back into the traffic stream.
As you drive the roads where you live and see the Weigh Station sign ahead check your mirrors for trucks needing to get in the right lane and exit.
Stay safe out there.