Washington State introduces truck transponders to bypass weigh stations
Commercial truck drivers now have another option for bypassing state weigh stations – by opting into a system that uses truck transponders to save time and money.
A new agreement allows drivers in Washington to use the PrePass weigh station transponder, doing away with having to carry several transponders for in- and out-of-state travel. The Washington State Department of Transportation and HELP, Inc., – a nonprofit public/private trucking industry partnership that provides PrePass transponders – reached the agreement in December. Drivers can now register PrePass transponders for Washington weigh stations.
Transponders allow trucks to bypass weigh stations by electronically verifying a truck’s legal weight, safety rating and credentials as the truck travels at freeway speeds. Based on the transponder, and scales embedded in the freeway, drivers receive either a green light to continue driving or a red light indicating they must report to the weigh station for closer inspection. Transponder usage keeps safe and legal trucks on the road and reduces travel time.
Use of the WSDOT’s in-state transponder system saved the industry approximately 111,000 hours of travel time and $12.8 million in 2016. Washington is the second most trade-dependent state in the nation per capita and one of WSDOT’s roles is to support economic vitality, including the efficient movement of freight.
Previously, truck drivers in Washington purchased a transponder from WSDOT that also worked in several other jurisdictions. The WSDOT transponders could be added to the PrePass system – if requested by the driver – but general PrePass transponders could not communicate with WSDOT weigh stations, meaning some drivers had to carry two transponders. The new agreement means drivers can just carry one transponder if they choose. WSDOT will continue to sell transponders.
“The goal is one transponder that will work everywhere,” said Anne Ford, WSDOT’s commercial vehicle services administrator. “We are pleased our partnership with HELP, Inc. helps achieve that goal.”
“We are excited to be entering into this partnership with Washington and look forward to working with WSDOT through this mutual agreement,” said Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of HELP, Inc. “Safe fleets and drivers appreciate the time and fuel savings of PrePass as well as opportunities for interoperability of their transponders.”