Obtaining a commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a big investment in both time and money, so it’s important to get it right the first time. Imagine undertaking the training then completing the requirements for your CDL only to find the license itself a useful document when you receive it. It can happen. In fact, it does happen on a regular basis. Why? Because the individual didn’t plan their CDL-A skills tests.
When you are issued a CDL, the testing authority will add endorsements based on a variety of criteria. Some of these endorsements are beneficial — for example, a HazMat endorsement, which allows you to transport hazardous materials. Some endorsements are not beneficial; in fact, some endorsements may make it difficult to find employment, either now or at some stage in the future. Consider these endorsements:
- “L” – this endorsement restricts the holder to driving trucks that DO NOT have air brakes. The “L” endorsement is added if the individual completes the skills test in a truck that is not fitted with air brakes.
- “Z” – this endorsement is similar to the air brake endorsement and is added if the the driver takes the test in a vehicle with an air over hydraulic brake system. With this endorsement, the holder CANNOT drive a truck that is fitted with air brakes.
- “E” – this endorsement restricts the driver to trucks with automatic transmissions. Holders CANNOT operate trucks with manual or semi-automatic gear boxes. This endorsement is added if the individual completes the skills test in a vehicle that is fitted with an automatic gear box.
- “O” – this endorsement is added if the driver completes the skills test in a truck that has a pintle hook or other non-fifth wheel connection. This endorsement restricts the individual from driving any Class A vehicle with a fifth wheel connection.
If you complete your CDL skills test in a vehicle fitted with an automatic gear box with no air brakes, and without a fifth wheel, you will have the “L-E-O” endorsements added to your license. This will severely restrict your future employment. Unfortunately, individuals can only have one CDL license, so you would need to cancel your limiting CDL and go through the whole process again if you wanted an unrestricted license. The easier course is to select a truck driver training school that will ensure you complete your skills test driving a vehicle that is best suited to your career options. Don’t be caught short with limiting endorsements simply because you failed to plan well, or chose the wrong truck driver training school.