Special sensors embedded into the roadway just outside of the South Dakota Port of Entry are saving both truckers and highway officials time and money by helping officers decide which rigs can just drive right on by. 

These sensors are built into the pavement of Interstate 90, a mile east of the Valley Springs South Dakota Port of Entry, and help identify potential problems with passing rigs before they even get to the weigh station. 

“About one mile east of the port of entry, in Minnesota actually, we identify the truck and weigh it, there are also sensors in the pavement that can detect the inflation of the tires…” said Dave Huft, the intelligence transportation system program manager for the South Dakota Department of Transportation. “Then in the time it takes the truck to get from there to weigh station we check on whether the vehicle registration is current, whether fuel taxes are up to date and we also check the safety score for the motor carrier… In that time there’s a decision made whether that truck needs to pull into the port of entry or not.”

Once the first sensors scan the bottom of the truck, the drivers who need to submit to further instruction are notified via in-truck transponders or messages broadcast to signs along the interstate. The trucks then enter the Port of Entry, where more sensors check the temperature of the truck’s brakes and wheels – too hot or too cold can mean problems with the tires or brakes, reported KeloLand News.

Thanks to these sensors, around 40% of trucks passing through the state’s ports are able to remain on the highway, which saves everyone a lot of time. Not to mention potential wrecks the sensors could be preventing, and a lot of money that could have been spent needlessly inspecting pristine trucks. 

“It’s estimated that it [the sensor system] saves 2 1/2 dollars per minute. Some estimates are higher,” Huft said. “Every minute a truck isn’t at the port of entry saves time and money.”

“When a truck crashes, it’s a big crash,” said Capt. John Broers, the commander of the motor carrier division of the Highway Patrol.

“You’ve all seen the tires that blow up on the side of the road, or unfortunately in the road, so a situation where if we can stop that tire that’s been worn or if we can detect that before it comes off the rim, and (before) a motorcycle hits that, did we save a life there? Chances are we did,” Broers said.

Weigh stations with sensor systems in South Dakota are located at Valley Springs, Jefferson, Sisseton and Tilford. More can be found on South Dakota Highway 79 south of Rapid City near the border with Nebraska, and at U.S. Highway 14 and South Dakota Highway 83 east of Pierre, Huft said.