Earlier this year, a public battle played out between HELP Inc. (and its PrePass product) and Drivewyze (and its PreClear solution) over access to bypass weigh stations in Missouri. However, that political fight obscured the fact that these systems, regardless of the technology you choose, can provide a significant savings to fleets and owner-operators.
It starts with time wasted at a weigh station – and with states facing budget cuts and fewer federal dollars for programs, it’s conceivable that more will open their weigh stations more frequently. Overweight trucks can provide a nice financial boost for cash-strapped states. The more stops you have to make, the more time that is wasted and the fewer miles you travel. Of course, the obvious solution to keeping costs down is don’t run overweight.
Another option is to skip the weigh station altogether, but that has a cost due to fines and fees ranging from about $200 and up including court costs, if caught, according to a white paper released earlier this year by PrePass. That is only the beginning, though, as there are other implications for skipping a required weigh station.
“For example, if a trucker drives past an open weigh station when he was supposed to have stopped in, law enforcement may pursue and pull him over. In some instances, the officer could require the trucker to drive back to the weigh station, which takes extra time. Once there, the officer may go so far as to conduct a full Level 1 inspection, which not only takes even more time, it could lead to more fines for violations on top of one he may likely receive for trying to sneak past a weigh station,” the paper explains.
That inspection can lead to violations which can be double costly, including repair costs and points against your CSA score.
“In other words, illegally avoiding a weigh station could jeopardize a trucking fleet’s scores in a variety of ways, including having a higher number of their trucks ordered to pull in rather than being green-lit to bypass. That’s because the more clean inspections you have, your safety records will improve over time. And great safety scores can mean more green bypass lights,” PrePass notes.
If you do stop at a weigh station, those costs can add up over the course of a year. According to a FMCSA study, each stop at a weigh station costs at least $8.68 in time and fuel, depending on fuel costs and the amount of time spent at the station. Spend 30 minutes in a long line waiting for the scale and those costs go up dramatically and miles go down dramatically. It could cost you 30 miles or more in travel time. In a heavily regulated ELD world, even a single stop at a weigh station could extend a run into an additional day.
According to Drivewyze, which is now active at 720 sites in 43 states and provinces, the best drivers in a fleet receive a bypass notification 98% of the time.
As mentioned previously, skipping weigh stations also avoids an unnecessary interaction with enforcement personnel. While weigh station personnel may not be conducting inspections, you can bet that if they notice something – tires a little bald, a frayed strap, or a fatigued driver – a closer look is likely to occur and that can lead down any number of paths, few of them good for drivers or fleets.
A bypass system can also provide a driver recruitment and retention benefit, according to one of the suppliers. In a 2015 Drivewyze survey of nearly 600 drivers, 320 said they have never worked at a company that offered a bypass solution, but 65% of those indicated they would be more likely to stay with that company if it offered a solution. The survey also found that 63% of respondents who worked for a company offering a bypass solution felt more positive about that company. Of those who did not work for a company offering a solution, 79% said they would view their job and employer more positively if it did offer a solution.
“Among the drivers who were currently using or have used weigh station bypass, the average perceived value of company-paid bypass service was more than $2,000 in time- and fuel–related savings and more than 120 hours of saved drive time annually,” the survey noted.
Drivewyze points out that not everyone will receive a bypass notification, as “Each state has pull in requirements which may affect if you get a bypass. This is based on your vehicle’s valid registration, your carrier’s safety score, vehicle weight, IFTA and other licensing requirements as well as a random pull-in rules.”
In the end, a weigh station bypass system can provide from a few hundred to a few thousands of dollars in savings per truck, and lessen the chance of additional inspections for vehicles, another potential cost savings.