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Experimental Technology Lets Truckers Weigh In Motion

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ORANGE COUNTY, N.C. — When tractor-trailers are backed up at Interstate weigh stations, a lot of drivers are affected.

If weigh stations are overloaded and shut down, state officials say it raises national security issues.

Now, there's new technology in Orange County designed to keep the weigh station from weighing on you.

In the old days, every truck traveling past the I-40/85 weigh station had to pull up to the scale and stop to be weighed.

That is not the case anymore under an experiment called Weigh In Motion.

Sensors in the pavement weigh the big rigs as they roll through at about 40 miles per hour. Trucks that comply with the weight limit keep on rolling. Violators are pulled over.

"That was the problem we saw over the years," said Capt. George Grey, of Motor Carrier Enforcement, "trucks backing up onto the Interstate and out onto the roadway, causing traffic problems. We have had in past years a few crashes because of that."

When truck traffic backs up, officers shut down weigh stations. That could allow impaired truckers, or truckers with illegal loads, a free pass.

Grey said it also could compromise national security efforts, which call for extra scrutiny of hazardous loads.

"It doesn't take long to get trucks backed up and traffic backed up," said truck driver Thomas Black, "and trying to get on the Interstate, trying to get off. I like the express lane. I mean, that's the way to go."

The next level of the new weighing technology is called Main Line Weigh In Motion, for which trucking companies are gradually buying on-board computers. That technology allows trucks to drive past the weigh station without slowing down at all.

The sensors are in the far right lane of the Interstate. They check weight and length, and a bar overhead measures height.

Truckers, meanwhile, have transponders that tell them to either keep going, or pull in to the weigh station.

The Orange County weigh station is the only one in the state utilizing the Weigh-In-Motion technology. If the experiment proves successful, truckers will keep rolling statewide.

The federal government is picking up 80 percent of the cost of the test program.