Driving down the highway, you’ve probably seen exit signs indicating a weigh station. With a passenger vehicle, you don’t need to worry about stopping to get weighed. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t curious about truck weigh stations and why they exist.

Keep reading to learn all about weigh stations, including why trucks are weighed and how truck weigh stations work.

Why Are Trucks Weighed

Trucks are weighed for three main reasons: safety (weight limits), taxes, and profits. The weigh stations you see along the highway are mainly for safety, but businesses also need to know truck weights to determine the taxes they owe and monitor the load to ensure profits.


Anyone who has driven past a semi-truck understands how huge they are. Not only is the truck itself heavy (usually about 35,000 pounds with an empty trailer), but it can also fit a lot of cargo. Whether it’s books, produce, or pillows in the trailer, all that weight adds up!

There are other heavy trucks to think about, too. For example, cement trucks can weigh between 20,000 to 30,000 pounds and carry about 40,000 pounds of cement. That’s a lot of weight putting stress on the road.

Trucks are weighed to help ensure they aren’t overloaded. An overloaded truck can present a safety hazard — both to drivers on the road and infrastructure. Extremely heavy trucks have greater stopping distances, may be more difficult to control, and can damage roads and bridges.


We rely on trucks to transport goods and materials all over the country, but their weight (even when not overloaded) puts extra stress on highways, bridges, overpasses, etc. So, truck carriers must pay heavy vehicle use taxes that go toward maintaining roadways. Truck weight is used to determine the taxes owed.


Truck weight allows business owners to monitor their inventory as it travels across roadways. Operations managers can use the weighing data to increase productivity, streamline the transportation process, and ensure customers are billed appropriately. Tracking truck weight can also help companies catch potential issues like theft or fraud.

What Is the Purpose of Truck Weigh Stations?

Weigh stations (called “chicken coops” in trucker lingo) are checkpoints for weighing heavy commercial trucks and vehicles. These stations are often run by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or state Highway Patrol. They help ensure vehicles meet DOT regulations, like not exceeding the federal maximum gross weight of 80,000 pounds.

How Do Weigh Stations Work?

In most cases, trucks and commercial vehicles over 10,000 pounds are required to stop at a weigh station if it’s open. Weigh stations are not open 24/7, but there will be signage indicating whether the station is open or closed.

At the weigh station, a truck scale is used to determine the vehicle’s weight. With some scales, the truck has to stop on the scale as it’s weighed. Newer scales have advanced technology that allows trucks to simply drive over the surface. Trucks that are overweight may face heavy fines. A truck could even be held at the station if it’s considered unsafe.


Weigh stations aren’t always just about weight, though. Some trucks are subject to fuller inspections. Officials could request to see the driver’s paperwork to check the trucker’s credentials, the logged weight to ensure it matches the current weight, and the driving log for safety compliance. They might also take a closer look at the vehicle itself to ensure all the systems work well.

Industrial Truck Scales and More from UniFide CST

Weighing stations help ensure the safety of truck drivers, other vehicles on the road, and infrastructure. But trucks don’t have to wait until they come across a weigh station to check their load. With on-site and portable truck scales from UniFide CST, business owners can confirm the weight of their trucks before they ever even hit the road. Contact us today for a quote.