What is Green Light?
It´s a way for truckers to save the time and money they waste stopping at Oregon weigh stations. It´s a truck weigh station "preclearance" system that´s just like systems you´ll find in many other states. But the Oregon Green Light system is better than most — it´s free! How does it work?
Scales in the roadway weigh trucks in-motion at high speed as they approach the station while automatic vehicle identification devices look for signals from a palm-size transponder mounted inside truck windshields. The transponder contains only a 10-digit number that is used to identify the carrier and specific truck. A computer takes in all the information, verifies truck size and weight, checks the carrier´s registration and safety records, and sends a green light signal back to the transponder if the truck is "good to go" past the station. How much does it cost?
Green Light is a free service available to any company with trucks that frequently stop at Oregon weigh stations. Oregon is giving companies their first transponder(s) free of charge and there´s no charge for preclearing Oregon weigh stations. Transponders have a 5-7 year battery life, however, and eventually carriers will be expected to pay to replace expired batteries or buy new transponders. Batteries can be replaced for $16.99 and new transponders cost $35. Contact Batteries Plus in Salem at 503-581-4890 -- 3045 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem OR 97305 -- for service. Contact the Washington State DOT
to purchase transponders. Will I be subject to more regulatory enforcement if I use transponders?
No. With the Green Light system, ODOT simply records the same license plate information it manually records every time you pull in to a weigh station. (If a Green Light weigh station is closed, nothing is recorded.) Transponder-equipped trucks actually get less scrutiny than other trucks. One of the main reasons ODOT uses the Green Light system is to identify safe and legal carriers, and allow them to continue uninterrupted. As a result, ODOT can concentrate on other truckers that may need attention. How much time will I save "preclearing" weigh stations?
On average, bypassing a weigh station can save 3-5 minutes each time, which really counts in a business where time is money — it can cost more than $1 a minute to operate a big truck. So, how many weigh stations do you stop at in a year? What do truck drivers think of it?
Drivers love it because it´s hassle-free, and because it reduces traffic at weigh stations — improving safety. What do trucking companies think of it?
Owners see the system as a way to save fuel, and wear and tear on equipment. Most of all, they see it as a way for their company to provide faster service shipping goods to customers. And there´s one more bottom line reason they like it — there´s no administrative fees or per-pass charges. Who´s using Green Light today?
Some of the biggest names in the trucking industry have Green Light transponders in their trucks — Distribution Trucking, Federal Express, Gordon Trucking, May Trucking, United Parcel Service, and USF Reddaway, to name just a few. Why is Oregon providing free transponders?
The Oregon Department of Transportation is offering transponders at no charge to companies with trucks that regularly stop at Oregon weigh stations. It´s doing this to boost usage of its Green Light preclearance system and relieve weigh station congestion. Green Light saves truckers time and money, but it also helps weigh station operators manage a growing stream of truck traffic. While you get weighed in-motion and precleared to fly by a Green Light weigh station, a greater percentage of the remaining trucks that continue to stop are more likely to need the weighmasters´ attention.
Oregon´s no-charge transponder offer is good for the first transponders a company obtains to get started in Green Light. Once the company has its transponders, it owns them and when the batteries die it is responsible for paying to either replace the batteries or buy new transponders. Transponders have a 5-7 year battery life. Batteries can be replaced for $16.99 and new transponders cost $30.
Oregon believes that transponder users should be free to use their transponders in other states´ preclearance systems and not be constrained by restrictive usage policies or other institutional barriers to interoperability. Green Light transponder users own their transponders and they´re free to use them in any system of their choosing. Why doesn´t Green Light charge a per-pass fee or a fee for transponders?
In the 1990s, Oregon was fortunate to get a $20 million federal grant to modernize its weigh stations and show the benefits of using weigh-in-motion scales and transponders. Oregon added $5 million in state funds to meet a 20% match commitment. As a result, truckers can use Green Light at no charge. ODOT is saving money by not having to expand weigh stations to handle growing truck traffic. It's already in the business of registering trucks to operate here so it´s fairly easy to also register transponders so they work in Green Light. That´s why there´s no administrative charge for transponders. What happens when I enroll?
ODOT will check your records in an initial screening process. Almost all carriers can qualify for weigh station bypass privileges. Carriers with a 12-month record of exemplary operation in Oregon earn special status as a "Trusted Carrier Partner." They´re not subject to random safety inspections and they´re eligible for additional benefits. The transponder application form asks for an IFTA jurisdiction and number. What´s that?
IFTA stands for the International Fuel Tax Agreement, a program through which truckers can arrange to have their home state collect fuel taxes for all of the states and provinces in which they operate. Truckers enrolling in IFTA get a decal to display on the truck and a license to carry in the cab. At this part of the application form, put your home state and the number on the license you carry in the cab. About Transponders What kind of transponder is used in Green Light?
Green Light uses the Telematics transponder, one of the most common truck
transponders in use today. It works in all states participating in the North
American Preclearance and Safety System – NORPASS - weigh station
preclearance system, and it is capable of working in all states participating in
the HELP PrePass system. But users must enroll and agree to certain terms
and conditions to use those other states´ systems. Users must also pay for
preclearance in PrePass states. In the past Oregon distributed two other types
of transponders -- the Raytheon-Delco Type II+ and the Mark IV -- that still
work in the Green Light system. What are the terms and conditions of transponder usage in Oregon?
There are five terms and conditions:
• Transponders are to be installed only on designated vehicles and in accordance with ODOT policies.
• Carrier may bypass an open port or weigh station only when the transponder indicates a green light. Exception: Carriers whose vehicles are operating under, or should be operating under, a variance permit other than an extended weight permit must report to the weigh station even if they receive a green light.
• Carrier will report any changes in the transponder application information to ODOT’s Motor Carrier Transportation Division at 503-378-6054.
• Carrier will report any changes in vehicles added to fleets, or removed from fleet operations, to ODOT´s Motor Carrier Transportation Division at 503-378-6054.
• Carrier agrees to allow its registration base state to provide information regarding IFTA and IRP accounts to ODOT´s Motor Carrier Transportation Division for the purpose of providing bypass preclearance to its vehicles. Can I use my transponder to preclear other weigh stations around the country?
You can use your transponder in any other preclearance system in the country, including the North American Preclearance and Safety System (NORPASS) and PrePass. How long will a transponder work?
Transponders have a 2-4 year battery life. At some point in time they will quit working. There is a Truck Transponder Service Center in Salem that can replace transponder batteries so the device can be used another 2-4 years (see next question and answer). How can I replace the battery in my transponder?
Truckers should not try to open the transponder and replace the battery. When the batteries die in your transponders, ODOT´s Motor Carrier Division recommends that they be sent them to a qualified vendor to replace the batteries. Each transponder contains a special battery that is generally only available in large quantities to battery suppliers. Each transponder battery must be replaced with the exact same model, with wires soldered to either end or to the circuit board, or it will not work properly. The blue Mark IV transponder is especially tricky to refurbish. The manufacturer purposefully added a tamper-prevention security feature that wipes out the device’s memory if the battery is disconnected.
A Salem BATTERIES PLUS store operates a Truck Transponder Service Center for refurbishing transponders for $16.99 each. Truckers should contact Batteries Plus in Salem at 503-581-4890, or ship transponders to 3045 Lancaster Drive NE, Salem OR 97305. Read more in a one-page handout about transponder battery replacement.
Where can I buy a new transponder?
The Washington State Department of Transportation is currently selling transponders for $30 each. Upon purchase, the transponder becomes your property and you´re free to use it in any state´s weigh station preclearance system. For more information, contact Washington DOT at 1-888-877-8567. Who do I call if I have problems?
If you need help in Oregon, contact the Green Light team:
David Fifer, Intelligent Transportation Systems Specialist, 503-378-6054 David.A.Fifer@odot.state.or.us
Susan Coffey - Green Light Administration, 503-373-7052 Susan.Y.Coffey@odot.state.or.us Troubleshooting Why do I get a red light on my Green Light transponder?
There are several reasons you may get a red light ordering you to pull into a Green Light weigh station. The Green Light system checks truck size, weight, and height, as well as your company´s safety records, registration status, and highway-use tax account status. A problem with any one of those checks will lead to the system sending a red light and forcing you to pull into the station. Even if everything is in order, you could get a red light signal if you don´t squarely cross the weigh-in-motion scales, or if you don´t maintain a steady speed across the scales. You could get a red light if another truck or car is following you too closely as you cross the scales, or you´re following too closely a vehicle ahead of you. Also, a truck´s tarp flapping in the wind could trip the over-height detector and lead to a red light signal to pull into the weigh station. Green Light Checks:
- As you cross the weigh-in-motion scales, you pass a pole with a device on top that emits a laser beam across the roadway. If your truck breaks the beam, it is higher than the legal limit and the Green Light system is programmed to send a red light signal to your transponder. Even a truck operating within height limits could get a red light signal if its tarp were loose and flapping in the wind because a flapping tarp can break the beam and make the system think the truck is over-height. Weight
- The weigh-in-motion scales are set to err on the side of caution. If your truck is under the legal limit, but very close to that limit, the system may send a red light signal to your transponder and require that you check your weight on the weigh station static scales. Safety
- A truck will get a red light signal on its transponder if the trucking company has an unsatisfactory safety rating. Green Light will also not preclear trucks operated by a company that is participating in the PRISM safety improvement program. Registration and Tax
- A truck will get a red light signal on its transponder if the trucking company´s registration account is suspended for failing to meet some regulatory requirement. This can include failing to pay highway-use taxes or other fees. Why do I get a red light on my PrePass transponder?
The identification number that your PrePass transponder transmits is not entered in the Oregon computer that runs the Green Light system. The vehicle identification system is receiving the signal from your transponder, but it has no computer record linked to it. The people who run the PrePass program, HELP, Inc., will not allow Oregon to enter the transponder number in the Green Light database and use their transponder for weigh station preclearance here. If you have questions about that policy, please contact PrePass at 1-800-PrePass. Can I carry both a Green Light and a PrePass transponder in my truck?
You can, but neither one will work very well. The problem is that each of the transponders constantly emits its identifying signal. Even if you´re traveling in Oregon with your Green Light transponder mounted correctly on the windshield and your PrePass transponder stored away in the glove box or stashed under the seat, the on-highway transponder reader at the next Green Light weigh station can pick up the PrePass transponder´s signal and spoil the chance to preclear the station. You may get lucky sometimes so that in Oregon the transponder readers pick up the Green Light signal and in California the readers pick up the PrePass signal, but odds are neither transponder will work. For truckers with both transponders, the solution is simple: Use just the Oregon Green Light transponder. Return the other transponder and ask PrePass to enroll your Green Light transponder identification number in the PrePass preclearance system (call 1-800-PrePass). Then that one device will work in both Oregon and other states.