While a commercial drivers license gives you the authority to drive a truck, there are some vehicles that can only be driven if you have a special endorsement that signifies your training and testing to drive these vehicles. There are also some materials that cannot be transported without a specific endorsement; again, this signifies your training and testing about transporting these materials. When it comes to truck driving, there are four common endorsements that you will need to consider including on your commercial drivers license.
T – Double/Triple Trailers Endorsement (Knowledge Test only):
This involves knowledge of the procedures for assembly and hookup of trailers; the proper placement of trailers; the handling and stability characteristics off trailers under a variety of situations; and the potential problems in traffic of driving with multiple trailers.
N – Tank Vehicle Endorsement (Knowledge Test only):
Tank vehicles are those that carry liquids such as water, petroleum products, and milk for example along with non liquid products such as grains. Drivers are tested in areas such as their knowledge of the causes, prevention, and effects of cargo surge on the handling of a tanker; proper braking procedures for a tanker when it is empty, full and partially full; and the differences in handling of baffled/compartmental tank interiors versus non baffled tankers.
H – Hazardous Materials Endorsement (Knowledge Test only):
The hazardous materials endorsement is a little more complicated now. Applicants are assessed under the Homeland Security Act to determine whether or not they should be granted the endorsement. Applicants are tested in areas related to the safe handling of hazardous materials, and the action required should there be an accident of any description involving the vehicle carrying hazardous materials.
X – Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials Endorsement:
The combination endorsement follows the parameters set out under each of the above individual endorsements. This is an endorsement that would be required by drivers of tankers carrying liquid gas or petroleum based products.
While you may not see an immediate need for any or all of these endorsements, if you have the opportunity to add them then you will increase your employment opportunities. If you attend a quality truck driver training program, then some, if not all of these endorsements should be included in your training. Ask if you are unsure.