State working to eliminate truck scales

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Transportation officials in Missouri are close to eliminating the need for truckers to stop at scales on major highways, which should reduce the roadway congestion the stops can cause.

"It's not done, but it's close," Kevin Keith, chief engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "At this point, we all think it is a good idea."

The state is working with Phoenix-based Affiliated Computer Service to install PrePass, an electronic system that allows trucks to be screened as they approach a scale. The system checks a truck's safety record, as well as the status of its registration fees, fuel taxes and insurance.

A message is then sent electronically to the truck, telling the driver to continue or stop at the scale. Similar systems are already used in 23 other states, including Illinois and Kansas.

"Barring any major issues, I think we are good to go there," said Chris Oliver, marketing director at Affiliated Computer Service. "We are fired up. That is a big state for us."

Saves time, fuel

Currently, trucks are required to stop at Missouri's 19 scales anytime the scales are open. The electronic system will help truckers with good safety records save time and fuel expense, according to the trucking industry.

The system should also cut down on congestion at the scales, which, when too many trucks are waiting, can backup onto the highway.

"It is a very serious problem," said George Burruss of the Missouri Motor Carrier Association. "We've run into situations now where ... a lot of times they have to close down the weigh station to keep the trucks from backing up onto the highway."

The system could be in use by the end of the year. Oliver said about 190,000 trucks nationwide are already registered to use the system.

"Time is a big factor," Oliver said. "It is also a big fuel saver."

Oliver said it takes about four-tenths of a gallon every time a truck stops and then accelerates.

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