Map: choices, coverage for weigh station bypass expanding

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Updated Feb 23, 2016

BarOle Trucking delivers international container freight from the Twin Cities to customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Two miles before its trucks hit the scales at state borders, an app running on cab-mounted Android tablets gives a “green light” to drivers to bypass the scales at highway speeds when trailer chassis are empty or loaded.

CLICK to enlarge: PrePass currently has operational sites in 31 states with a number of committed sites, shown in yellow.CLICK to enlarge: PrePass currently has operational sites in 31 states with a number of committed sites, shown in yellow.

BarOle Trucking heard about the app from the Minnesota State Patrol. By subscribing to the mobile bypass service from Drivewyze, both parties are more efficient, says Karol Smith, safety manager for the Centerville, Minn.-based carrier.

BarOle’s trucks bypass at least two weigh stations per day on routes, saving drivers about 15 minutes during their workday, she says. According to a study by the Department of Transportation, a single bypass event saves $8.68. BarOle Trucking pays $15 a month, per truck, for the bypass service; the cost of the subscription is covered in one day, she says.

To qualify for bypass, the company has to maintain a good safety record. This is reflected in its Inspection Selection System (ISS) score of 46.

Safe carriers like BarOle have been bypassing scales for more than 20 years. The first bypass program began in 1993 through a non-profit, public-private partnership called HELP, Inc. States that participate in its PrePass program set their own bypass criteria, but generally carriers who enroll in PrePass have an ISS score below 90. Some states require ISS scores to be as low as 75 (on a scale of 100).

Legally bypassing weigh stations is commonplace, and with new technology and choices in the market, carriers and law enforcement are maximizing the benefits. The most recent changes revolve around two different types of methods to identify vehicles both at fixed and mobile inspection points.

Fixed sites

The original bypass system, PrePass, uses overhead readers to capture the identity of vehicles in advance of weigh stations. The readers pick up a signal from the windshield-mounted transponders in trucks. The signal identifies the carrier and immediate verification takes place.

PrePass uses a pre-clearance process. States work with HELP, Inc., to establish bypass criteria in the program based on ISS scores and other safety credentials. Carriers that meet the standards can subscribe to the program which costs up to $17 per truck, per month.

While moving at highway speeds, a PrePass transponder flashes a green light for drivers to bypass the station or a red light to pull in for an inspection. States that use PrePass set a minimum five percent random pull-in rate, and some also set additional criteria for pull-ins such as if the carrier transports hazmat loads, says Karen Rasmussen, president and chief executive officer of HELP, Inc.

Today, over a half million trucks from nearly 41,000 fleets are enrolled in PrePass and qualified to bypass weigh stations and ports of entry in 31 states.

CLICK to enlarge: Drivewyze is operational in 35 states and approximately 567 service sites.CLICK to enlarge: Drivewyze is operational in 35 states and approximately 567 service sites.

Going forward, HELP, Inc. plans to build additional weigh-in-motion sites on major freight corridors and in locations that are trying to address specific safety issues. The I-94 corridor in Wyoming is one example of a new site being used to block overweight trucks that operate in the oilfields from causing road damage, she says.

PrePass has several options for transponders. One of its most popular transponders is interoperable with all PrePass and Norpass sites as well as the E-Z Pass electronic toll payment system in 15 states.

Bestpass also offers a near-universal transponder that is compatible with 33 tolling authorities and 4 weigh station bypass providers. Bestpass also provides nationwide toll management services and discounts for carriers.

Drivewyze, founded in 2010, has taken a different approach for identifying vehicles ahead of inspection points. Drivewyze uses software and the cellular connectivity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to identify vehicles. The Drivewyze app also currently runs on onboard devices from Zonar, PeopleNet and Rand McNally.

The app transmits an encrypted message using the identification credentials stored in the app to a secure server in the cloud, automatically, when trucks approach inspection sites. The exchange is triggered by geofences set up around the sites.

Law enforcement is connected to the same server through a different interface to screen vehicles before they reach inspection points.

The Drivewyze mobile bypass service, PreClear, requires no installation of hardware at weigh stations. This largely explains why the service has grown so rapidly. It is now operational in 35 states at 567 service sites, including those with weigh-in-motion scales.

Inspectors use Drivewyze’s cloud-based software to make a real-time decision on who to pull in for inspection. The screening process includes the use of ISS scores and other compliance information, says Brian Heath, president and chief executive officer of Drivewyze. States set their own inspection rules but the criteria is fairly standardized, he adds.

PrePass and Drivewyze now operate in 24 states jointly.

BarOle Trucking uses a bypass service to save drivers about 15 minutes per day.BarOle Trucking uses a bypass service to save drivers about 15 minutes per day.

Mobile bypass

Besides operating PrePass at fixed sites, HELP, Inc. offers a mobile setup called PrePass Roadside Solutions. A few states are using this to conduct inspections at additional locations and as a backup system when their fixed sites are closed or under construction, Rasmussen says.

Because Drivewyze is a cloud-based system, law enforcement officers can set up inspection points at virtually any location, though for obvious reasons the locations have to be carefully chosen to allow trucks without a bypass to safely pull off the road for inspection.

As the volume of truck and car traffic continues to build, the use of bypass systems will only continue to increase as law enforcement and motor carriers seek ways to improve safety and efficiency.