It is no secret that a house move takes a lot of planning and effort – every single stage of the relocation process requires detailed research, meticulous organization, careful preparation, and plenty of hard work in order to go smoothly and successfully.
Using professional moving services will relieve you of most of the burden – the specialists will not only have the necessary equipment and rich experience required to handle your move in a safe and efficient manner, but will also know all the pertinent rules and requirements, so you’ll have nothing to worry about.
If you’ve set your mind on a self-move, however, you’ll have to take care of every single aspect of the arduous relocation process on your own. And even after you’ve completed all the necessary preparations, put the required paperwork in order, rented a moving truck, packed your items, and loaded the moving vehicle, your work won’t be over yet – you’ll still need to drive the truck to your new home. If you’re moving short distance, this may not be too difficult. If you’re moving to another state, however, the transportation part of your relocation adventure may prove to be quite a challenge.
Driving a moving truck across the country is a risky, laborious, and time-consuming task – you’ll be on the wheel for hours (or maybe even days!) on end, will need to be careful about the road conditions, will have to find safe and convenient places to stop for rest and refreshment, etc. On top of it, you’ll notice a lot of weigh stations on the highways and may not be sure if you’re required to go through them or not.
Who is required to stop at weigh stations? What trucks need to go through the checkpoints? Do rental trucks have to stop at scales? You’ve probably been asking yourself these questions ever since you decided to rent a moving truck for your DIY-relocation.
There is a lot of confusion about the topic, as there is no universal answer – the weigh station rules for rental trucks depend on the states.
What is a weigh station?
Weigh stations are highway checkpoints where weight and safety inspections are performed to ensure that the passing large vehicles meet all the applicable state regulations.
Truck weigh stations were originally created to collect road taxes commercial trucks owed the states for using their roadways. Nowadays, the scales are still used to enforce weight restrictions (special permits are required for loads exceeding 80,000 pounds), but their primary purpose is the performance of safety inspections of the vehicles.
Who has to stop at weigh stations?
It is commercial vehicles that are usually required to stop at scales, but rental trucks transporting household goods may also need to go through the checkpoints. It depends on the laws in the state you’re traveling through.
Each state has its own rules about what trucks have to stop at weigh stations – some states require only commercial trucks to do so, but others demand that all trucks exceeding a certain weight go through the scales:
- Moving vehicles are not required to stop at weigh stations in Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming;
- Rental trucks weighing more than 10,000 lbs need to stop at scales in Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri (if the truck exceeds 18,000 lbs), New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin;
- Trucks exceeding 26,000 lbs have to go through weigh stations in Alabama, Idaho, New Mexico, and Oregon;
- In all other states, rental trucks are usually required to stop at highway checkpoints.
Still, there are some additional conditions and restrictions, specific for each individual state. Click here for more detailed information on the state regulations for rental truck weigh station rules.
Most rental trucks carrying personal belongings are below the state-required weight limits, but if you’re moving a large household, your vehicle may exceed the restriction.
Besides, rental trucks may be required to stop at highway checkpoints for immigration checks, equipment inspections, smoke emissions inspections, etc.
Some states (such as Florida, for example) even have “agriculture inspection” stations at the state borders that require all trucks, especially rental ones, to stop.
So, if you know for sure that your truck is over the required weight limit or if you’re in doubt, you’re strongly advised to be cautious and stop at the checkpoints (if you fail to stop at a weigh station when required, you may receive a costly ticket). If it turns out that you were not required to go through the scales, you will be waved through, so you won’t waste any unnecessary time.
It is also a good idea to visit the Department of Transportation websites of the states you’ll be passing through and learn the current laws and regulations regarding weigh stations rules for rental trucks in the area.
Why do trucks have to stop at weigh stations?
Simply put, weigh stations exist to help ensure the safety of the vehicles on the road, prevent accidents and illegal activity, and keep the roads in better condition for longer periods of time.
Trucks are weighed to make sure they do not exceed the federal limits that define the maximum weight a vehicle can carry without a risk of getting damaged, damaging the roads, or causing an accident (the heavier a truck is, the less safe it is to drive – it is more difficult to control when going downhill, takes longer to turn, and needs greater distance to come to a safe stop).
What’s more, weigh stations are used to check for illegal immigration and illegal trafficking, as well as for paperwork inspections and inspections of the equipment and smoke emissions of the vehicles.
Do rental trucks have to stop at weigh stations?
So, do all trucks have to stop at weigh stations and, more specifically, when do you have to stop at weigh stations?
As already detailed above, most states require only vehicles that exceed a certain weight to stop at scales. Some explicitly include or exclude trailers, motor homes, and moving trucks. So, whether or not you’ll need to go through weigh stations while driving a rental truck will depend on the weight of the vehicle and the laws in the states you’re traveling through.
Truck rental companies like U-Haul, Budget, and Penske recommend their customers to follow the road signs (there are signs on the highways, notifying drivers of the distance to the next weigh station and indicating the weight a truck must exceed to be required to stop) and stop at checkpoints if in doubt.
Good to know: Most signs indicate the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) of trucks that need to go through the scales. Your rented truck will most probably have its GVW printed on the side door (it should be stated in the rental truck specifications as well). It is also a good idea to use professional truck weigh scales to determine the exact weight of your fully-loaded truck before leaving. (Related information: How do moving companies estimate weight)
Many weigh stations have a lane, especially designated for moving trucks, so you won’t have to wait long to go through the scales. Most likely, you won’t even need to stop – the majority of modern day weigh stations have rolling scales built into the road in front of the Scale Officer’s booth. All you’ll have to do is drive slowly over the scales – the weight of your truck will be declared on a display on the booth. Unless you are pulled over for further inspection, you’ll be able to continue on your way.
Godspeed and good luck in your new home!