According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, weigh station bypass systems can save an average of $8.68 and five minutes per bypass. That does not include extra time and money spent should your truck get inspected.

Two primary types of technologies are used for weigh station bypassing: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which identifies vehicles through windshield-mounted transponders, and Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS), which uses cellular technology for truck identification through mobile phones, tablets and in-cab telematics devices.

Here are six factors to consider before selecting the weigh station bypass system that’s best for your fleet.

1. Not all bypass technology platforms are equal

While both RFID and CMRS are capable of transmitting identification information between a truck and a weigh station, there are some key things to be aware of. One of the primary differences between RFID transponders and cellular CMRS is reception – how well signals are transmitted between weigh stations and trucks. RFID transmits and receives signals with almost 100 percent accuracy. Alternatively, just like your cell phone, CMRS signals can be dropped, affected by terrain, weather, service providers, the type of cellular device or tablet and the quality of the GPS chip set.

Another factor concerning CMRS is signal latency, or delays in the transmission time between the truck and the station. You don’t have to worry about latency when using RFID. That’s because RFID transponders have a response time measured in just a few hundredths of a second from the time the truck approaches a weigh station, transmits its credentials and the driver receives a green light to bypass. In contrast, because so many different factors affect cellular CMRS-based weigh station bypass, a driver may get a bypass signal too late to bypass.
Of course, for safety reasons, handling a cell phone while driving is not recommended, so choose a CMRS-based application that is designed for primary use on tablets.

2. Compare bypass ppportunities that best match your routes

When evaluating weigh station bypass service providers, an obvious consideration is the number of service locations. However, there are big differences in how providers count the number of weigh station locations where they offer service.

Fixed open weigh stations are permanent facilities in regular operation. Alternatively, “mobile” sites are possible temporary positions staged along a highway by law enforcement. There is typically no active law enforcement presence at these so-called “mobile” sites except when a special targeted enforcement activity is underway, if ever. Therefore, determine where your trucks operate in relation to a truck bypass service provider’s network of fixed open sites.

Often, providers will quote the number of total bypass opportunities and savings resulting from these bypasses. Before you bank on these numbers, ask vendors if they claim bypasses of closed sites and virtual sites where no enforcement is present as true bypasses. After all, a bypass is not really a bypass if the weigh station is closed or there is no enforcement presence to operate a “virtual” site.

Lastly, consider weigh station sites with weigh-in-motion scales (WIMs). Embedded in the roadway, the truck weight reading must match the correct truck. CMRS cellular signal latency and trucks following closely can result in a mismatch between the truck and the weight reading resulting in an automatic pull-in. This problem does not occur with RFID transponder systems.

3. Ensure safety data is available to improve your operation

Some systems offer reporting tools to help improve safety and the company’s transportation operations. For example, PrePass includes InfoRM™ Safety, a safety intelligence tool that unpacks the numbers affecting your fleet’s Inspection Selection System score.

Discover which inspections your trucks are failing, and any patterns of infractions, even if the inspections are conducted at roadside and not in a weigh facility. InfoRM provides actionable intelligence to make changes in your fleet’s operations so trucks spend more time running on the road and less time at weigh stations or pulled over for roadside inspections. Such tools are useful for all fleets, regardless of size.

You can also use safety intelligence data to help negotiate lower insurance rates, improve maintenance and build relationships with law enforcement.

4. Pay tolls electronically through an RFID-based system

Another difference between truck bypass systems using RFID rather than CRMS is the integration of electronic toll payment capabilities with an RFID transponder. Some truck bypass system providers not only integrate tolling into their service, but do it with a single transponder, as opposed to having different transponders from each tolling agency.

Even if your trucking operation rarely has to pay tolls, having a truck bypass system that also handles toll payments is a major cost-saving benefit. Certain applications for tolling offer business intelligence tools that allow fleets to find out how much is being spent where, and by which vehicles, and can even send alerts for violations and possible fraud situations.

5. Determine just how much you can save

When selecting a weigh station bypass system, you need to determine how much you can save. A federal study estimates just one bypass is worth five minutes and $8.68. But let’s dig into that further with one case study of a fleet with just over 325 trucks.

In one year alone, company trucks received green lights from the nation’s largest RFID-based system to bypass weigh stations 94.3 percent of the time, for more than 30,800 bypasses. That not only saved more than 12,000 gallons of fuel, but also provided nearly 2,600 hours of productivity that allowed their trucks to keep on driving. It also saved $154,000 in operating costs.

6.There’s still a place for CMRS

While RFID is more reliable, it’s also more expensive to install at weigh stations. However, HELP Inc., the non-profit provider of PrePass, has invested more than $600 million to deploy PrePass weigh station bypassing and other services. HELP constructs PrePass locations at heavily trafficked sites and other key locations, currently 316 across the United States.

CMRS can best be deployed at low-traffic sites with good cell connectivity by creating a GPS geofence. As long as cellular coverage is consistently strong and the state does not use WIM weights in the bypass decision, this solution can benefit fleets with simple bypassing needs.

Some fleets maximize bypasses with both a transponder and a mobile app working together. Even within this scenario, CMRS providers instruct customers to default to the more reliable transponder message when used together.