New partnership gives truck drivers a new option to bypass Washington’s weigh stations


Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has reached a new agreement with non-profit public/private trucking industry partnership HELP Inc. to provide commercial truck drivers with another option for bypassing the state’s weigh stations.

The new agreement allows truck drivers in Washington to use HELP’s PrePass weigh station transponder, doing away with the need to carry several transponders for in- and out-of-state travel. Washington is the second most trade-dependent state in the USA per capita, and one of WSDOT’s roles is to support economic vitality, including the efficient movement of freight. Use of the WSDOT’s own-brand in-state transponder system saved the industry approximately 111,000 hours of travel time and US$12.8m in 2016.

Previously, truck drivers in Washington purchased a transponder from WSDOT that also worked in several other jurisdictions. The WSDOT transponders could be added to the HELP PrePass system if requested by the driver, but general PrePass transponders could not communicate with WSDOT weigh stations, meaning some drivers had to carry two transponders. The new agreement means drivers can just carry one transponder if they choose. WSDOT will continue to sell its own transponders.

Transponders allow trucks to bypass weigh stations by electronically verifying a truck’s legal weight, safety rating and credentials as the truck travels at freeway speeds. Based on the transponder and scales embedded in the freeway, drivers receive either a green light to continue driving, or a red light indicating they must report to the weigh station for closer inspection.

Transponder usage keeps safe and legal trucks on the road and reduces travel time. WSDOT and HELP reached the agreement in December 2017, and following work to the agency’s back-office systems, drivers can now register and use their PrePass transponders for Washington weigh stations.

“The goal is one transponder that will work everywhere,” said Anne Ford, WSDOT’s commercial vehicle services administrator. “We are pleased our partnership with HELP Inc. helps achieve that goal.”

Karen Rasmussen, president and CEO of HELP Inc., commented, “We are excited to be entering into this partnership with Washington and look forward to working with WSDOT through this mutual agreement. Safe fleets and drivers appreciate the time and fuel savings of PrePass, as well as opportunities for interoperability of their transponders.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).