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Chapter 1: Introduction

Scan Purpose and Scope

Significant growth in domestic and international commerce, coupled with ever-increasing traffic congestion and delay on surface transportation networks, challenges the ability of industry to move freight economically without the use of larger and heavier loads. This trend also challenges limited enforcement resources tasked with monitoring vehicle size and weight compliance in the interest of infrastructure preservation. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' (AASHTO) Technology Implementation Group has identified the weigh-in-motion (WIM) concept and its capabilities as a focus technology for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of vehicle size and weight enforcement in the United States.

The potential benefits of technology-based vehicle size and weight enforcement extend beyond infrastructure preservation to include:

  1. Improved delivery of enforcement services by enhancing effectiveness and efficiency
  2. Improved commercial motor vehicle productivity (i.e., supply chain velocity) by reducing the number of vehicles required to stop for enforcement purposes
  3. Fewer emissions by reducing unnecessary deceleration, idling, and acceleration of compliant vehicles
  4. Higher commercial and general motor vehicle safety levels by controlling the operation of nonpermitted, noncompliant (i.e., overweight or oversize) vehicles
  5. Better data quantity and quality to support pavement design, traffic engineering, and transportation planning efforts, as well as ongoing performance monitoring and evaluation of vehicle size and weight enforcement programs.

In pursuit of these benefits, the scanning study on commercial motor vehicle size and weight (VSW) enforcement included a review and evaluation of contemporary European procedures and technologies for enforcing commercial motor vehicle size and weight laws and regulations. Specifically, the scanning study considered the following, as applied in Europe:

Intrinsic benefits related to infrastructure preservation, enforcement efficiency and effectiveness, commercial motor vehicle productivity, emissions, safety, and data quantity and quality were considered concurrently in this investigation.

Scan Team Members

The scanning study was conducted by a team of experts in commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement. The 10-member team included three representatives from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), five from State departments of transportation (DOTs), one from law enforcement, and one from academia. Scan team members and affiliations are listed below:

Jeff Honefanger (AASHTO cochair)
Manager, Special Hauling Permits Section
Ohio Department of Transportation

Julie Strawhorn (FHWA cochair)
Office of Freight Management and Operations
Federal Highway Administration

Jodi L. Carson (report facilitator)
Associate Research Engineer
Texas Transportation Institute

Ric Athey
Assistant Director, Motor Vehicle Division
Arizona Department of Transportation

George Conner
Assistant State Maintenance Engineer–Bridges
Alabama Department of Transportation

David Jones
Office of Policy
Federal Highway Administration

Tom Kearney
Statewide Planner, New York Division
Federal Highway Administration

John Nicholas
Program Manager, Commercial Vehicle Division
Washington State Patrol

Pam Thurber
Bridge Management and Inspection Engineer
Vermont Agency of Transportation

Randy Woolley
Division of Research and Innovation
California Department of Transportation

Jeff Honefanger and Julie Strawhorn, acting as AASHTO and FHWA cochairs respectively, led the scan team. In addition to breadth across agency types, the team had expertise in commercial motor vehicle size and weight technologies, procedures, data applications, public-private involvement, and harmonization.

Scanning Study Site Selection

Sites for inclusion in the scanning study were determined using information from four primary sources:

  1. Reports on prior related scanning studies
  2. Published literature
  3. Various Internet sites
  4. U.S. and European experts in the field.

Past scan reports and published literature provided a historic chronology of vehicle size and weight enforcement research and development. Internet sites provided information on more recent developments in vehicle size and weight activities, including ongoing projects and points of contact. Countries that exhibited a long history of enforcement technology or program development and led current research and development efforts ranked highest for potential scanning study site visits. These recommendations were confirmed through discussions with U.S. and European experts, many of whom had been directly involved in vehicle size and weight enforcement efforts in Europe. More specific information provided by these sources is described below.

Prior Scanning Studies

A review of scanning study reports (available at www.international.fhwa.dot.gov) revealed six prior scan topics related to this investigation (see table 1):

Table 1: Prior related scan tour reports.

Austria Belgium Denmark France Germany Italy The Netherlands Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
Freight Transportation: The European Market (2002)   X     X X X   X  
European Traffic-Monitoring Programs and Technologies (1997       X X   X   X X
Advanced Transportation Technology (1994)     X X X   X      
Highway/Commercial Vehicle Interaction: North America and Europe (1996)   X   X X   X X   X
Commercial Vehicle Safety: Technology and Practice in Europe (2000)       X X   X X    
Emerging Models for Delivering Transportation Programs and Services: A Report of the Transportation Agency Organization and Management Scan Tour (1999)               X   X
Literature Review

To supplement the review of scan tour reports, a review of related published literature was conducted with particular emphasis on recent (since 1997) publications.

To accomplish this review, researchers relied largely on the Transportation Research Information Services (TRIS) Online and Transport databases. TRIS Online, the bibliographic database of transportation research information produced by the Transportation Research Board, provides useful links to full-reference texts, but lacks comprehensive references from Europe. Transport is derived from TRIS, but includes references from Europe contributed by the International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) database. The larger ITRD database has transportation research from 23 countries, including most of Europe, Australia, Latin America, Canada, China, and Japan, and contains abstracts in one of four languages: English, French, German, or Spanish.

Nearly all of the recent findings on commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement in Europe were discovered and published under the auspices of two significant pan-European studies coordinated by the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussees in France:

  1. COST 323, Weigh-in-motion of Road Vehicles, conducted from 1993 to 1998 and involving 19 European countries (1)
  2. WAVE, Weigh-in-motion of Axles and Vehicles for Europe, conducted from 1996 to 1999 and involving 10 European countries. (8)

The scope and results of these studies are in the Notable Historic Pan-European Projects section of this chapter.

These seminal studies also resulted in more than 100 conference proceedings and journal articles in publication venues, including the First, Second, Third, and Fourth International Conferences on Weigh-in-Motion; the National Traffic Data Acquisition Conference; the World Congress on Intelligent Transportation Systems; Traffic Technology International; and International Journal of Heavy Vehicle Systems. These more narrowly focused publications address WIM system topics related to user perspectives, bridge and pavement applications, field tests, technology developments, enforcement applications, data applications, calibration, standards, and specifications. An abbreviated list of publications is in the Bibliography section, with a focus on enforcement and data applications. Key findings from this review are described in this report.

Internet Review

The Internet proved a useful tool in selecting scanning study sites, supporting the review of prior scan reports and published literature and the identification of U.S. and international experts. In addition, numerous Web sites provided a broad range of information on Europe and the European Union, government and academic organizations, transportation-related statistics, private industry product vendors, and technical conferences and activities.

One Web site, the "European Weigh-in-motion pages" (wim.zag.si), was particularly useful. This site was developed to support information exchange among participating countries during the COST 323 Project and the subsequent WAVE Project. The site provides general WIM technology information, detailed descriptions for the COST 323 and WAVE Projects (including links to completed deliverables and points of contact), the European WIM specification, a multilingual glossary of WIM terms, historic and forthcoming WIM events, an e-mail network (wimusers.free.fr) of more than 300 WIM users or experts from 50 countries, a list of WIM vendors, and a library of WIM-related documents. A drawback of the site is that it lacks substantive information following completion of the COST 323 and WAVE Projects (from 1999 to the present).

More recent online information on WIM-based commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement in Europe was obtained through a review of recent International Conference on Weigh-in-Motion (ICWIM) programs ( www.ctre.iastate.edu/ icwim/index.cfm and wimusers.free.fr/icwim4/index.cfm). The 2008 conference, jointly organized with the Tenth International Symposium on Heavy Vehicle Weights and Dimensions, will be in Paris, France (hvparis2008.free.fr). Other information came from a review of various WIM vendor Web sites, including Golden River Traffic–Europe™, IRD™, Central Weighing™, ECM™, Kistler™, and Cestel, d.o.o. Cestel provided the most information on its Web site (www.siwim.com/index.cfm) about recent WIM implementations, predominantly in Slovenia but also in Sweden.

This information, combined with advice from U.S. and European experts, helped the team finalize the recommendations for scanning study site visits.

U.S. and European Expert Advice

U.S. and European experts in commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement in Europe were identified based on:

  1. The reporter's knowledge
  2. Recommendations from other noted experts in the field
  3. Recent publication records and participation in COST 323 or WAVE activities, related e-mail networks, related conference-organizing committees (e.g., ICWIM).

Table 2 provides a list of individuals contacted, via e-mail, to support identification and selection of scanning study sites. Highlighted individuals provided feedback. This list is not comprehensive; knowledgeable individuals identified later in the scanning study are not listed here.

Table 2: U.S. and international experts.
Austria Blab, Ronald TU-Wien, Technische Universitat Wien rblab@istu.tuwien.ac.at
Belgium Jehaes, Sophie BRRC, Belgian Road Research Centre crr@skypro.be
Czech Republic Doupal, Emil Transport Research Centre doupal@cdv.cz
France Jacob, Bernard LCPC, Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussees jacob@lcpc.fr
France Dolcemascolo, Victor LCPC, Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussees victor.dolcemascolo@lcpc.fr
Germany Meschede, Ralph BASt, Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen meschede@bast.de
Ireland O'Brien, Eugene UCD, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Dublin eugene.obrien@ucd.ie
Slovenia Znidaric, Ales Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute ales.znidaric@zag.si
Spain Leal, Jesús CEDEX, Centro de Estudios y Experimentación de Obras Públicas jleal@cedex.es
Switzerland Caprez, Markus ETH, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology caprez@igt.baug.ethz.ch
Switzerland Poulikakos, Lily Empa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research lily.poulikakos@empa.ch
The Netherlands Henny, Ronald DWW, Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute r.j.henny@dww.rws.minvenw.nl
The Netherlands Van Loo, Hans DWW, Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute F.J.vLoo@dww.rws.minvenw.nl
United Kingdom Newton, W. H. Transportation Research Laboratory wnewton@trl.co.uk
United States Hallenbeck, Mark Washington State Transportation Center tracmark@u.washington.edu
United States McCall, Bill Center for Transportation Research and Education, Iowa State University billmccall@aol.com
Site Selection

Table 3 assimilates the information gathered from related scanning study reports, published literature, Internet sites, and U.S. and European experts. Factors viewed favorably in the decision on which sites to visit in the scanning study included:

  1. Active participation in pan-European research efforts
  2. Recent related research and advancements in the topic area
  3. Direct attention to one or more of the five topics of interest identified for the scanning study
  4. Sufficient WIM deployments to support observation and experience
  5. Expert recommendation.

Participation in prior scanning studies was viewed less favorably.

Table 3: Summary of site recommendation factors.

Austria Belgium Czech Republic Denmark France Germany Ireland The Netherlands Slovenia Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
Pan-European projects                        
COST 323 X X X X X X X X X X X X
WAVE   X     X X X X X X X X
TOP TRIAL           X   X     X  
REMOVE         X X   X       X
Recent research                        
MS-WIM         X X   X        
Bridge WIM         X   X   X X    
Automated enforcement         X     X        
VSW scanning study topics of interest                        
Enforcement technologies   X   X X X   X X X X X
Enforcement procedures   X X   X     X X   X  
Data applications         X       X   X  
Public-private funding X             X        
Harmonization                     X  
WIM deployment (limited or extensive) L L L L E E L L E L L E
Expert recommendation         X     X X      
Prior scanning studies                        
Freight Transportation (2002)   X       X   X     X  
Traffic Monitoring (1997)         X X   X     X X
Transportation Technology (1994)       X X X   X        
Highway/Vehicle Interaction (1996)   X     X X   X   X    
Commercial Vehicle Safety (2000)         X X   X   X    
Emerging Models for Delivering Transportation Programs and Services (1999)                   X   X

Based on these decision factors, the following sites, in order of preference, were recommended as part of the scanning tour:

In addition to these five sites, it was recommended that the scan team meet with members of the European Union Transport and Tourism Committee in Brussels, Belgium, to gain additional perspective on efforts to harmonize VSW enforcement activities among different countries.

Scanning Study Site Visits


Figure 1: Slovenia: proximity and road network.

Map of road network in Slovenia and bordering countries.

Slovenia, bordered by Austria, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, and the Adriatic Sea, is 20,273 square kilometers in size (slightly smaller than New Jersey) with just over 2 million in population. The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, is geographically centered. Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004 and is generally governed by a prime minister and other ministers responsible for oversight of finance, the interior (home affairs), foreign affairs, justice, defense, labor, family and social affairs, the economy, agriculture, forestry and food, culture, environment and spatial planning, transport, education and sport, higher education, science and technology, health, and public administration. For this investigation, commercial vehicle size and weight enforcement is affected primarily by actions and activities of the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of the Interior.

Despite its small size, Slovenia controls some of Europe's major transportation routes (see figure 1). The European Transport Corridor V provides access from the Slovenian Port of Koper northward. The European Transport Corridor X provides east-west travel through the country. Slovenia's national road network compromises 6,349 kilometers (km), of which 5,892 km are managed by the Directorate of the Republic of Slovenia for Roads (Direkcija Republike Slovenije za Ceste) under the Ministry of Transport and 457 km are managed by the Motorway Company in the Republic of Slovenia (Drušba za avtoceste v Republiki Sloveniji, DARS). These roadways are more specifically classified according to function as motorways, expressways, main roads (category I or II), regional roads (category I, II, or III), regional tourist roads, and interchanges. An additional 32,172 km of municipal roads (local roads and public paths) are the responsibility of the municipalities. Most directly related to this investigation, the Directorate for Roads is responsible for overseeing the issuing of licenses to perform road transport and allocation of permits for international road transport of goods, ensuring adequate training and qualifications for transport companies and drivers, and developing relations with other countries in the area of road transport (the country has 42 bilateral agreements on road transport).

The Ministry of the Interior provides public safety and security, which is attained through preventive rather than repressive actions of the law enforcement agencies. The ministry is also responsible for the coordination of European affairs and international cooperation in the field of security. The police, an autonomous body within the Ministry of the Interior, perform tasks at three levels: state, regional, and local. Under the Uniformed Police Directorate, the Traffic Enforcement Section is responsible for controlling and regulating traffic (including commercial motor vehicles) on public roads and noncategorized roads used for public traffic, protecting the state border, and performing border control, among other duties.

Supporting the efforts of the Ministry of Transport and the Interior, Slovenia's National Building and Civil Engineering Institute (Zavod za gradbenistvo Slovenije, ZAG) conducts related research and development activities, operating as a government-owned, nonprofit public research institute. Formerly the Institute for Testing and Research in Materials and Structures, ZAG focuses on the following activities:

Related to this investigation, ZAG (in partnership with Cestel, a private manufacturing company) has developed a bridge WIM system, SiWIM™, which is showing high accuracy in recent European installations. The SiWIM system also touts a wide range of applications, including:

  1. Capture of traffic- loading data to support planning, maintenance, or special studies
  2. Weight data to support preselection or automated enforcement
  3. Weight and volume data to support structural bridge analysis.

As part of this scanning study, the scan team visited the SiWIM production facilities at Cestel and a SiWIM installation at Postojna, southwest of Ljubljana. In addition, the scan team heard presentations by representatives from ZAG, the Ministry of Transport, the Directorate for Roads of the Road Maintenance Sector, and the Ministry of the Interior's Traffic Police Section.


Switzerland, bordered by Austria, France, Italy, Lichtenstein, and Germany, is 41,290 square kilometers in size (slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey) with more than 7.5 million in population. Bern is the capital of Switzerland. While not an EU member, Switzerland does participate as a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and has recently brought its economic practices largely into conformity with the European Union's to enhance its international competitiveness.

Switzerland has 71,220 km of roadways, including 1,706 km of national roads and 2,300 km trunk roads (see figure 2). The roadways are classified as national roads, main roads, and municipal/local roads. The mountainous topography in Switzerland required the construction of 2,976 bridges and 244 tunnels totaling 338 km in length. The main north-south and east-west routes carry up to 75,000 vehicles per day. The Swiss philosophy is aimed at coordinating an optimum use of capacity for different modes of transport, seeking an appropriate balance between truck and rail transport of freight. For trucks, weight limitations, nighttime travel restrictions, and strict requirements on drivers' rest periods result in reduced heavy vehicle traffic passing through Switzerland.

Figure 2: Switzerland: proximity and road network.

Map of road network in Switzerland and bordering countries.

The Swiss Federal Roads Authority (FEDRO), under the Department of Transportation, Communication, and Energy (one of seven federal departments), is responsible for the Swiss national roadway system, although the actual owners and operators of the network are the 26 cantons (equivalent to U.S. States) in which the roads are located.(4) Under FEDRO and related to this investigation, the Road Traffic Management Information System (MISTRA), in cooperation with the cantons, operates an eight-station network of WIM systems on the Swiss national roads. MISTRA is responsible for central data acquisition and processing and operational maintenance, while the respective cantons are responsible for construction maintenance.

Traffic enforcement, including commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement, is the responsibility of the 26 cantons, each of which has its own police department. Canton police are responsible for enforcing federal law as well as additional laws at the canton level. Canton laws cannot be more restrictive than federal laws. Funding for commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement is provided through general taxes directed to the cantons. Local communes also provide limited police resources. At all levels, resource constraints result in increased breadth and scope of officer duties (e.g., a single officer may be responsible for traffic safety, criminal investigations, etc.).

Supporting the efforts of FEDRO and the cantonal police, Empa conducts related research and development activities. Empa is one of four independent federal research institutions under the ETH domain (which also includes two Federal Institutes of Technology, ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne). Empa is organized into five research and engineering departments, supported by 27 laboratories, and cross-linked within five strategic research programs to foster interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. Empa focuses primarily on applied research, interfacing science and its real-life applications.

As part of the scanning study, the team visited two field sites:

  1. A demonstration site in Schafisheim (northeast of Bern) for the Eureka Logchain Footprint Project, which aims to deliver the scientific basis for a heavy goods vehicle surcharge similar to that already in force in Switzerland
  2. An overloading enforcement center near Winterthur.

In addition, the team heard presentations by representatives from FEDRO and Empa.


Germany is Europe's largest economy and most populous nation, with more than 82 million people. It is 357,021 square kilometers in size (slightly smaller than Montana) and is bordered by Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland. Germany is divided into 13 läender (similar to U.S. States) and three free läender. Berlin is the capital of Germany, which is an EU member.

The country is generally governed by a chancellor and various federal ministers responsible for oversight of labor and social affairs; foreign affairs; interior; justice; finance; economics and technology; food, agriculture, and consumer protection; defense; family affairs, senior citizens, women, and youth; health; transportation, building, and urban affairs; environment, nature conservation, and nuclear safety; education and research; and economic cooperation and development.

Germany has 231,581 km of roadways, including 12,037 km of expressways (see figure 3). The roadway system is more specifically categorized as federal autobahns, nonurban federal highways, läender (state) highways, district roads, and local jurisdiction (municipal) roads.

Figure 3: Germany: proximity and road network.

Map of road network in Germany and bordering countries.

Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs is responsible for the autobahn and national road networks, including financing, design and planning, and provision of legal and technical supervision of their construction and operation. The actual construction, operation, and administration of these roads are performed by the Bundeslande on behalf of and with funding from the national government.(4) Commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement is provided by traditional police forces, while the German Federal Office for Transport of Goods (BAG), under the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs, provides enforcement for the Toll Collect system.

Technical support, analysis, and research are provided by the Federal Highway Research Institute (Bundesanstalt fur Strassenwesen, BASt) under the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs. A focal point of BASt's work results from the role it plays in formulating specifications and standards applying to all highway-related fields. These tasks are undertaken in close collaboration with the Road and Transportation Research Association (Forschungsgesellschaft für Straßen- und Verkehrswesen), the German Institute for Standardisation (Deutsches Institut für Normung, DIN), the German Institute for Construction Technology (Deutsches Institut für Bautechnik), the German Road Safety Council, (Deutscher Verkehrssicherheitsrat), competent läender highway authorities, universities, associations, and the highway industry.

As part of a public-private partnership (PPP) program, Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs recently partnered with Toll Collect to initiate a distance-based tolling system for heavy vehicles. Toll Collect is a consortium formed by Daimler-Chrysler, Deutsche Telecom, and Cofiroute. As part of this scanning study, the team visited a gantry and downstream enforcement site that support the distance-based toll program. In addition, the team heard presentations by representatives from Toll Collect, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs, and BASt.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands, bordered by Belgium, Germany, and the North Sea, is 41,526 square kilometers in size (slightly less than twice the size of New Jersey) with about 16.5 million in population. Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands, which is an EU member. The Port of Rotterdam is one of the busiest in the world. As such, the Netherlands experiences significant freight movement to and through the country.

Figure 4: The Netherlands: proximity and road network.

Map of road network in the Netherlands and bordering countries.

The road system, comprising 104,850 km of paved roads, is divided into three organizational levels: national, provincial, and municipal (see figure 4). The national road network is constructed, operated, and maintained by the Ministry of Transport through eight regional administrations. All road miles in the national system are freeways, with funding provided by the national government. Provincial and municipal roads are the responsibility of local governments. The national government does not allocate funds to local government for construction, repair, or maintenance of roads.(4)

Commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement is primarily the responsibility of the Netherlands National Police Agency (Korps Landelijke Politiediensten, KLPD) and the Inspectorate of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management (Inspectie Verkeer en Waterstaat, IVW) in the Transport Division of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management (Ministerie van Verkeer en Waterstaat). The Transport Inspectorate oversees the transport of persons and goods on the road and supervises the transport of dangerous goods in aviation, shipping, and inland shipping and over roads and railways. Supervision involves vehicles, cargos, drivers, and businesses.

Technical assistance is provided by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management's Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute (DWW) and Transport Research Center (AVV). Duties of the DWW and AVV include providing policy recommendations, acting as knowledge transfer points, and providing information and basic data on traffic and transport to the ministry.(4)

As part of the scanning study, the team visited an overloading enforcement center near Delft and observed a specially designed calibration vehicle capable of relating dynamic load measurements to true dynamic (rather than static) loads. In addition, the team heard presentations by representatives from the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works, and Water Management; Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute; and the Dutch National Police Agency's Traffic Police Department.


Belgium, bordered by France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the North Sea, is 30,528 square kilometers in size (about the size of Maryland) with nearly 10.5 million in population. Brussels is the capital of Belgium, which is an EU member.

Figure 5: Belgium: proximity and road network.

Map of road network in Belgium and bordering countries.

The road system in Belgium comprises 150,567 km of paved roadways, including 1,747 km of expressways/motorways, 12,531 km of regional roads, 1,349 km of provincial roads, and 134,940 km of municipal roads (see figure 5). Seven international expressways connect the country to the French, German, and Dutch motorways. Because of this connectivity, Belgium experiences high volumes of transit traffic passing through the country.

Belgium is administratively divided into three regions (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels), 10 provinces, and 589 communes. The decisionmaking power in Belgium is distributed between the federal and regional governments. In general, the design, construction, management, and maintenance of the road network, including national roads and motorways, are the responsibility of the regions. The federal government harmonizes these activities with the Highway Code, vehicle regulations, traffic safety, etc. Decisions affecting local road networks are made by local authorities.

Commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement is the primary responsibility of the Belgian Federal Police Services and the regional road administrations. In 2001, the three principal police forces in Belgium—the municipal police, the state police (Gendarmerie), and the judicial police (assigned to the offices of the public prosecutors)—gave way to an integrated police service structured on two levels (a federal level and a local level). A general commissioner heads the organization. His role is to coordinate the work of five general police directorates: administrative, judicial, operational support, logistics, and human resources. Moreover, the general commissioner has a number of departments reporting directly to him that are responsible for communication with the local police, international cooperation, integrated police operations, and the coordination of external communication. The Federal Police is basically charged with executing particular missions (including those overlapping more than one locality) of administrative and judicial police, as well as providing specialized support to the local police and the Federal Police itself. The Federal Police limits vehicle size and weight enforcement activities to the national roads and motorways.

Highway inspectors, employed by the regional road administrations and jointly responsible for commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement, possess the same judiciary powers as the Federal Police.

The efforts of the Belgian Federal Police Services and the regional road administrations are supported by the Belgian Road Research Center (BRRC), a public utility research institute aimed at promoting research in industry. BRRC provides impartial and progressive research on road design, construction, and maintenance and has extended its expertise to road safety, mobility, and environment-friendly road construction. Recently, technical committees have been formed to enhance dialogue with various transportation industry stakeholders. Historically, the focus of such committees has been on construction. Recent committees, however, will focus on a broader set of topics, including traveler mobility, traffic safety, environmental issues and recycling, concrete and asphalt roads, and road asset management.

As part of the scanning study, the team heard presentations by representatives from the Federal Police Services, the Flemish (Flanders Region) Road Administration, and BRRC. In addition, the team met with representatives from the European Union and the Forum of European National Highway Research Laboratories (FEHRL).


France, bordered by Andorra, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Spain, Switzerland, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea, is 547,030 square kilometers in size (slightly less than twice the size of Colorado) with nearly 61 million in population. Paris is the capital of France, which is an EU member.

Figure 6: France: proximity and road network.

Map of road network in France and bordering countries.

France has four levels of government: the national government, 22 regions, 100 departments (equivalent to U.S. counties), and 36,400 communities. These levels are generally grouped as federal and local (encompassing all three lower levels of government) when considering responsibilities. In addition, there are eight tollway authorities.

The road system in France comprises 891,290 km of paved roadways (see figure 6). French roadways fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport, which has seven administrations. The Surface Transportation Administration is the agency primarily concerned with freight movement, including driver hours of service, establishing and enforcing weight laws, and ensuring fair competition in freight transportation. Despite the Surface Transportation Administration's interest in freight movement, a different administration, the Traffic and Safety Administration, is primarily responsible for heavy vehicle data collection.

These administrations are aided by several government-supported technical institutes and laboratories. The Central Laboratory for Bridges and Roads (Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussees, LCPC) has been most involved with commercial vehicle size and weight enforcement-related research. The Infrastructure Technical Research Institute East Laboratory (Centre d'Etudes Techniques de l'Equipement de l'Est, CETE Est) has also become involved. In addition to research, these organizations conduct a significant amount of data collection, analysis, and reporting for the national government.(4) Efforts are also supported by seven governmental regional information centers that support not only the Ministry of Transportation, but also the Ministry of Police and the Ministry of Defense.

As part of this scanning study, the team visited overloading enforcement centers along motorway A31 near Fays, Lesmenil, and Autreville. In addition, the team heard presentations by representatives from the CETE East Laboratory in Metz and the LCPC in Paris.

Notable Historic Pan-European Projects

Like the United States, Europe has seen a rapid increase in commercial motor vehicle traffic on its roads in recent decades. Europe is similarly challenged in its efforts to efficiently enforce the size and weight of commercial motor vehicles. Related technology development has been ongoing for the past 20 years, with France and the United Kingdom leading early European research on and deployment of WIM systems.(3) Limited advances in WIM system accuracy, cost efficiency, and durability resulted in restricted deployment outside of France and the United Kingdom; only six or seven European countries were using WIM systems by the late 1980s. By the late 1990s, more than 20 European countries were using WIM systems. This evolution is largely attributable to two pan-European projects:

More recent pan-European projects, including the TOP TRIAL and REMOVE Projects, furthered these seminal efforts.

COST 323

In 1992, the Forum of National Highway Research Laboratories (FEHRL) proposed a program of strategic research—COST 323, Weigh-in-Motion of Road Vehicles—to the Directorate General of Transport of the European Commission (DGVII). The action was coordinated by the French LCPC (cordis.europa.eu/cost-transport/src/cost-323.cfm). The main objectives of this program were the following:

Nineteen countries participated in the COST 323 Project, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, and the output of the action is reported in a comprehensive 538-page book.(1)

In direct response to the predefined project objectives, key products of the COST 323 Project included the following:

The European WIM specification provides comprehensive guidance on the following:

Table 4: Allowable tolerances by accuracy class.
CRITERIA (Type of measurement) DOMAIN OF USE ACCURACY OF CLASS: Confidence interval width ä(%)
A(5) B+(7) B(10) C(15) D+(20) D(25) E
Gross weight >3.5 tonnes 5 7 10 15 20 25 >25
Axle load >1 tonnes              
Group of axles   7 10 13 18 23 28 >28
Single axle   8 11 15 20 25 30 >30
Axle of a group   10 14 20 25 30 35 >35
Speed >30 km/h1 2 3 4 6 8 10 >10
Interaxle distance   2 3 4 6 8 10 >10
Total flow   1 1 1 3 4 5 >5

1 This condition applies only for sensors/systems that do not work statically or at very low speed.

SOURCE: Weigh-in-Motion of Road Vehicles—Final Report of the COST 323 Action

Table 5: Accuracy class requirements by application.
Accuracy Class Application
A(5) Legal purposes such as enforcement of legal weight limits and other particular needs; and to provide reference weight values for in-service checks, if the classes B(10), C(15), D+(20), or D(25) are required for all of the traffic flow vehicles (assuming that it is not possible to weigh in static such a large population)
B+(7) Enforcement of legal weight limits in particular cases, if the class A requirements may not be satisfied and with a special agreement of the legal authorities; efficient preselection of overloaded axles or vehicles; and to provide reference values for in-service checks, if the classes C(15), D+(20) or D(25) are required for all the traffic flow vehicles (assuming that it is not possible to weigh in static such a large population)
B(10) Accurate knowledge of weights by axles or axle groups and gross weights for infrastructure (pavement and bridge) design, maintenance, or evaluation, such as aggressiveness evaluation, fatigue damage and lifetime calculations; preselection of overloaded axles of vehicles; and vehicle identification based on the loads
C(15) or D+(20) Detailed statistical studies, determination of load histograms with class width of one or two tonnes, and accurate classification of vehicles based on the loads; infrastructure studies and fatigue assessments
D(25) Weight indications required for statistical purposes, economical and technical studies, and standard classification of vehicles according to wide weight classes (e.g., by 5 tonnes)
E Indications about traffic composition and the load distribution and frequency.

SOURCE: Weigh-in-Motion of Road Vehicles— Final Report of the Cost 323 Action


Concurrently with the COST 323 Project, the more comprehensive WAVE (Weighing-in-Motion of Axles and Vehicles for Europe) Project began in 1996, also coordinated by the LCPC, with the following objectives:

The WAVE Project concluded with an international workshop in May 1999 in Paris, France.(12)

At the close of the COST 323 and WAVE Projects, WIM system use for commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement had high importance but required additional research to improve the WIM system accuracy up to Class A(5) in the European specification. Additional work was also required to solve some legal aspects of enforcement (e.g., to allow nonstatic weighing for this purpose) (wim.zag.si).


Beginning in 2000, the 2-year TOP TRIAL Project was initiated under the Fifth Framework Program of the European Union. TOP TRIAL involved four participating countries (Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland) and was intended to:

  1. Improve the accuracy of weight measurement of truck loads to cover future regulation aspects
  2. Recommend future European standards as a basis for enforcement.

A test site was established along the motorway A9 near Bavaria using staggered multiple-sensor WIM systems (www.cordis.lu/data/MSS_PROJ_PT_FP5_NEW/ACTIONeqDndSESSIONeq25096200595ndDOCeq6ndTBLeqEN_PROJ.cfm) .

Key recommendations from the TOP TRIAL Project related to the following:

The project concluded with two international workshops in March 2002 in Delft, Netherlands, and in September 2002 in Munich, Germany.


Most recently (initiated in 2004 and completed in 2006), the REMOVE (Requirements for Enforcement of Overloaded Vehicles in Europe) Project, led by a consortium of enforcement agencies, transportation agencies, technical experts from the research community, and transport industry from 15 countries, departed from previous studies by focusing on technology application rather than technology performance. The objective of the REMOVE Project was to provide a legal framework in which both new and existing WIM systems and technologies can operate at strategic and tactical levels across the European community, with the intention of reducing the danger and damage caused by overloaded vehicles.(13)

The project recognized an evolution in the use of technology in commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement, beginning with manual selection and the use of size and weight data for planning and statistical purposes only to preselection and problem solving to direct enforcement and intelligence (see figures 7 and 8). Researchers characterized the current situation as controlling less than 5 percent of the trucks, incidental use of WIM technology, and a focus on enforcement. Near full evolution, the target situation is characterized as controlling 95 percent of the trucks, intelligent enforcement mix, and a focus on both prevention and enforcement. This evolutionary process will be challenged by various legal, technical, operational, and cost-benefit issues. A 12-year timeline is estimated for overcoming these challenges and achieving full implementation of direct enforcement.(13)

Figure 7: Dual enforcement/prevention approach.

Prevention and Enforcement Diagram

Figure 8: Lego approach to enhancing enforcement efficiency through technology.

Diagram of an approach to enhancing enforcement efficiency through technology.

Specific challenges and observations noted through this investigation are as follows:

In response to these challenges and observations, a number of recommendations have been tasked to the European Commission:

Combined, these recommendations reflect the state of the practice for commercial motor vehicle size and weight enforcement in Europe at the time of this investigation.

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