A recent series of trucking accidents along Washington State’s Highway 9, north of the town of Sedro-Woolley, has the state considering using a specialized technology to limit further accidents. Specifically, the State Highway Patrol is considering using a weigh-in-motion system to warn trucks away from using Highway 9 as an alternative route to Interstate 5.
State officials suspect that truckers are using the alternate route to avoid a nearby set of weigh-in scales on Interstate 5. Whether this implies the truckers are potentially carrying heavier loads than they should, or simply trying to save time on their route is irrelevant — avoiding the scales to take the alternate route is causing accidents. The state highway is less straight, and drivers unfamiliar with it are more likely to get into wrecks. Similarly, drivers from Canada coming into the U.S. often take Highway 9 as the fastest route for the area, meaning more truck traffic.
The weigh-in-motion system will have a virtual camera which determines vehicle weight, a license plate camera, and a larger camera to take a picture of the truck as a whole. It will be joining several such systems already in use across the state but will also be the first that is completely unmanned and automated.
The State Patrol acknowledges that drivers seeking to avoid the scales aren’t the only reason there is increased traffic along State Highway 9. However, the Patrol feels that adding an enforcement measure to catch those drivers who are using the state highway as a way to avoid weighing in will have some impact on the level of traffic.
Officers will be able to access the system remotely with the technology available in their police cars to catch offenders using the route as a weigh-in dodge. It is unclear when the system will go up, but it is expected to happen soon if approved.