Anderson Injury Lawyers | September 26, 2023 | Truck Accident
If you want to be a truck driver, you’ll need more than just a regular driver’s license. Federal regulations dictate that drivers of trucks over a certain weight or those who haul certain materials must go through additional training to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Obtaining a CDL is more complicated than it might seem at first glance. There are different types of CDLs you can receive and many additional endorsements you might need to add to your license.
What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?
A commercial driver’s license is the specific type of qualification you need to legally operate certain types of trucks. These special licenses are considered to be “commercial” because most large trucks are driven for work or business purposes rather than personal use.
Similar to a regular driver’s license, a driver wanting to earn their CDL license must study the material and pass two evaluations: a written knowledge test and a practical driving skills exam. You might also be subject to additional requirements. For example, certain types of felonies can disqualify you from obtaining a CDL.
What Are the Main Types of Commercial Driver’s Licenses?
There are three primary types of commercial driver’s licenses. For each type, a would-be CDL holder needs to learn special rules and driving skills.
Class A CDL
Class A CDLs are required to operate the largest types of commercial motor vehicles.
Vehicles that require a Class A CDL qualification include:
- Flatbed trucks
- Livestock trailers
Commercial driver’s license classes are separated based on the weight of the vehicle or trailer. Class A CDLs cover vehicles that typically weigh over 26,000 pounds or that pull a trailer weighing over 10,000 lbs.
Class B CDL
A Class B CDL is required to operate a vehicle that weighs up to 26,000 pounds or that tows one weighing up to 10,000 lbs.
Examples of commercial motor vehicles that usually require a Class B CDL to operate are:
- Box trucks
- City buses
- Tourist buses
- Passenger buses with over 15 passengers
- End dumps (dump trucks with trailers)
Most Class A CDL holders can legally operate these vehicles unless there are special restrictions or additional requirements in place.
Class C CDL
A Class C CDL only allows holders to operate a select number of vehicles. These include:
- School buses
- Passenger buses that hold under 15 passengers
- Hazmat trucks
Class C CDL holders are usually subject to additional regulations. For example, school bus drivers must pass both criminal and driver background checks.
Commercial Driver’s License Endorsements
Simply holding a commercial driver’s license doesn’t necessarily mean you’re legally qualified to drive a certain vehicle. A number of additional endorsements can be added to a CDL, and these are often required for certain jobs.
Some common commercial driver’s license endorsements drivers can obtain are:
- N: For vehicles carrying hazardous material
- X: For tanker trucks hauling hazardous material
- S: For school buses
- T: For towing double or triple trailers
- P: For vehicles with 16 or more passengers
- H: For tankers carrying liquids or gas
Before getting behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, drivers should make sure they have the correct CDL class and any additional necessary endorsements.
Keeping Texas Roads Safe
CDL requirements and endorsements provide truck drivers with the specialized training they need to safely operate large vehicles. However, truck accidents still regularly lead to serious injuries and death for other drivers on the road. Protecting your future as a truck driver and the safety of others means always making sure you’re certified to operate the vehicle you’re driving.