Every driver knows how important it is to check their tires before setting off on their great adventure. In fact, it’s a mandatory part of their daily pre-trip inspections. Sadly, too many drivers don’t take their inspections seriously. They may do a quick two-minute inspection so they can get back on the road. At best, they kick a few tires and think everything is fine. This lack of care often leads to dangerous situations on the road.
Several states are now updating their technology at weigh stations to help solve this growing problem. Virginia is one of the first to implement what they call TACS. TACS stands for Tire Anomaly and Classification System. It’s an enhanced set of sensors that check a truck’s tires for any issues before they pass the weigh station. It will look for tires that are underinflated, flat, or even mismatched and pull a driver in if it detects any safety issues.
The I-81 Safeway
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles set up the first set of sensors along I-81 in 2020. In nearly two years of operation, the system has helped identify nearly 13,000 tires that were unsafe for the roads. They were installed near Winchester at the Stephens City Motor Carrier Service Center and will soon be at the Troutville Motor Carrier Service Center near Roanoke. This is only the beginning of TACS being places all over the state of Virginia.
“Tire blowouts can cause serious crashes. By detecting unsafe tires, most times before a truck driver even knows there is a problem, we can prevent crashes from occurring and save lives,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative. “The hard-working folks at DMV’s motor carrier service centers take very seriously the role they play in keeping our highways safe; TACS gives them another tool with which to work.”
Nebraska Looks to Prevent Flat Tire Issues
Nebraska is another state looking to take tire problems more seriously in their state. The Nebraska State Patrol has been installing new sensors in their weigh stations that allow them to determine if a semi has a flat tire, even while going highway speeds. Apparently, this is a big enough issue for them to decide to fix it. The first sensors went up along I-80 near North Platte. If there’s a problem, the technology will flag drivers and have them pull into the weigh station so they can fix it.
“Really the goal of the new technology is two-fold,” said Lt. Mike Maytum, of the NSP Carrier Enforcement Division. “First, we want to identify vehicles that are unsafe, stop them, and make sure that before they leave, it’s safe to do so. The second piece of that is we want to allow companies that are doing a good job, to continue to do a good job and let them move on down the road to get goods and services moved on to other places around the U.S.”
The state is also working on upgrading its cameras with the goal of scanning license plates and DOT numbers. It’s going to see which companies have a better (or worse) safety record. That means if you work with a company that doesn’t take good care of their trucks, you’re more likely to undergo an inspection.
While being pulled into a weigh station is every trucker’s nightmare, the new technology actually does make the roads safer. There are hidden issues that even the most experienced drivers may not realize. These scans are incredibly precise and are able to see hidden dangers. It’s also going to enable more trucks that are compliant to bypass the weight station.
This type of technology is likely to be rolled out across the country over the next several years