Eli5 what highway weigh stations are and why police are there?

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Eli5 what highway weigh stations are and why police are there?

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Highway weigh stations are to enforce weight limits for the road. A standard semi is limited to 80,000 pounds gross, if they’re over that they’re not road legal. However, a permit can be had which allows oversized and overweight cargo, with the permit fees ostensibly helping to offset the extra wear to the road.

The police are there as part of the enforcement. They may also be doing DOT checks etc. This can be ensuring the DOT numbers on the side are valid, that the vehicle itself is road legal, that the drivers have their paperwork both for OTR time and their cargo (I believe it’s illegal for a semi not to have documentation for what is in the trailer, don’t quote me on that).

Heavy trucks hurt roads, you weigh trucks to make sure they don’t hurt the road. Cops are there to make sure trucks get weight to check if they are too heavy

A lot of your basic questions have been answered, but originally weigh stations were set up to charge trucks fuel taxes and issue permits to drive on the roads of that state. A weigh station was set up everywhere a major road entered the state, and trucks had panels on the sides of them with all of the permits to let them operate legally in the state. Trucks would stop at the weigh stations and pay the money they owed to operate in that state.

Starting in 1983 and going into full effect in 1996, all of the contiguous United States and Canadian provinces are part of the [IFTA](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Fuel_Tax_Agreement), which manages the collection and equitable distribution of fuel taxes. For instance, if a truck based in NC drives into SC just to purchase cheaper diesel fuel, but then is driven almost exclusively in NC, the operator will get a bill every 3 months for the difference in fuel taxes not paid to NC, and SC would send most of the fuel tax revenue they collected from that purchase to NC as well. Truck drivers are required to track all fuel purchases and log how many miles were driven in each state (this is all done electronically by a computer on-board the truck nowadays), and submit their reports to IFTA.

Not having a valid IFTA sticker on your commercial vehicle will lead to SERIOUS trouble for you.