Thursday, July 19, 2001

Sensors show 'weigh' to go

Trucks can bypass mandatory stops

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — A sensor system is helping the state regulate commercial trucks without requiring drivers to pull into weigh stations.

        The trucking industry says the PrePass program saves time and money. Law enforcement says it makes highways safer and more efficient.

        Long lines at weigh stations burn up fuel in trucks. They also can be a hazard, said Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman Maj. Paul McClellan.

        “The challenge is to move vehicles safely and efficiently, given the space you have to work with out there,” he said.

        Ohio has 11 PrePass systems and expects to have five more operating by fall.

        The system works through an electronic sensor suspended over a highway from a metal arm and aimed at passing vehicles. A computer checks trucking credentials and activates either a red or green light in a truck cab so the driver knows whether to keep going.

        Findlay-based Garner Transportation, one of the companies participating, says its drivers are regularly questioned by other drivers when they drive past weigh stations.

        “All the other drivers will yell at our drivers on the CB, 'Where are you going, Garner? You've got to go through the scales,'” company spokesman Daniel Fout said. “And they'll say, 'No, I've got PrePass; I've got the green light.'”

        Ohio is one of 22 states using a sensor system to verify trucks.

        About 10,000 of the 540,000 registered trucking companies in the United States use the PrePass system.

        The system is free for the state. A trucking company pays PrePass 99 cents each time an authorized truck uses the system. The fee is capped at $3.96, or four passes, per day.

        PrePass allows only companies with proper credentials and good safety records to participate, Mr. McClellan said.

        Weigh stations randomly pull truckers in to ensure that companies continue to meet program standards.


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