People are often confused when it comes to drivers licenses and truck driving. You don’t need a commercial drivers license (CDL) just because you drive a truck. You only need a commercial drivers license if the trucks you are driving meet certain conditions.
For most states, if a truck and trailer combination weighs more than 26,000 pounds, then you will need a commercial drivers license. The weight used to determine this is not the actual weight, but the manufacturer’s weight rating. This is known as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).
There are several different classes of a commercial drivers license and each has its own requirements. A Class A CDL is for those driving trucks where the total GVWR is in excess of 26,000 pounds and the trailer component is in excess of 10,000 pounds. For a Class B CDL, the combined total is still in excess of 26,000 pounds, however, the trailer must have a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds.
In some states, if you are carrying hazardous materials, then you must have a CDL with the hazardous materials endorsement irrespective of GVWR. What is interesting is that if you are legally entitled to drive a truck without a CDL in your home state, then you can continue to do so in a neighboring state, even if their rules are different.
If you are considering working as a truck driver, you have a choice. You can limit your options by not undertaking the training and testing for a CDL, or you can open up your range of driving options by obtaining a commercial drivers license with the full range of endorsements available. Looks can be deceiving – you can have two trucks side-by-side that look the same, yet they can have totally different manufacturers ratings – hop in the wrong one and you could face huge fines for driving a truck without a CDL.
Truck driving is a job that requires real skills and road knowledge. If you’re considering a career as truck driver, then open up your options by undertaking truck driver training and gaining your commercial drivers license.