A technology called PrePass at roadside weigh stations is saving truckers time and money, but it's also reducing engine idling times and the resulting carbon emissions when drivers don't have to stop and wait for inspections.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will tour a site just off I-15 in Perry today where a PrePass weigh-station bypass system has been keeping trucks moving and not waiting in line for inspections. The tour coincides with a joint effort to get in place more PrePass systems, which first appeared in Utah in 2006.

"That's good in terms of emissions — you're not idling, you're moving at freeway speeds," Utah Division of Air Quality director Cheryl Heying said about the benefits of PrePass.

The six PrePass sites in Utah are credited last year with reducing overall carbon emissions by about 2,000 metric tons, equivalent to taking about 400 cars a year off the road. That amounted to about 1.5 million bypasses at Utah weigh stations, said James Roberts, representing PrePass managers Affiliated Computer Services.

The technology uses a transponder installed in a truck, sending information ahead to a weigh station about the vehicle's license plate, safety record and weight. A computer processes the information and contacts the truck driver on whether to keep going or to stop in the station.

Roberts said the goal is to double the current amount of annual bypasses nationwide of 56 million at PrePass weigh stations in 29 states. "What can industry and states do to reduce carbon emissions?" Roberts said the two sides should be asking themselves.

Keeping that question in the public eye is Richard Landis, president and CEO of HELP Inc., a Phoenix-based nonprofit group that brings public and private groups together on using PrePass technology. HELP (Heavy Vehicle Electronic License Plate) locally has been working with the Utah Trucking Association.

"The fundamental issue is, we have a changing environment around us ... in the world of air quality," Landis said.

At a time of record high fuel prices, Landis noted that PrePass helps truckers save gas and increase efficiency on the road. He said Huntsman and state leaders are recognizing the environmental benefits of PrePass, adding that "the transportation industry needs to get on board."


E-mail: sspeckman@desnews.com