A Comprehensive Look at CDL Classifications

A Comprehensive Look at CDL Classifications, cdl classification

What is a Class A CDL?

A Class A commercial driver’s license is required to operate vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, as long as the towed vehicle is heavier than 10,000 pounds. With a Class A CDL and the proper endorsements, you may drive the following types of vehicles:

  • Tractor-trailers
  • Truck and trailer combinations
  • Tank vehicles
  • Livestock carriers
  • Flatbeds

What is a Class B CDL?

A Class B commercial driver’s license is required to operate a single vehicle with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, or tow a vehicle not heavier than 10,000 pounds. With a Class B CDL and the appropriate endorsements, you may drive the following types of vehicles:

  • Straight trucks
  • Large passenger buses
  • Segmented buses
  • Box trucks
  • Dump trucks with small trailers

What is a Class C CDL?

A Class C commercial driver’s license is required to operate a vehicle that is designed to transport 16 or more occupants (including you, the driver) or transport hazardous materials (HazMat), materials that are classified as hazardous under federal law. With a Class C CDL and the proper endorsements, you may drive the following types of vehicles:

  • Small HazMat vehicles
  • Passenger vans
  • Combination vehicles not covered by Classes A or B

What is a Commercial Driver’s License?

A Commercial Driver’s License is required to drive commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) such as tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, dump trucks, and passenger buses. If you long for a career on the road rather than in an office, you’ll most likely need a CDL. There are three classes of CDLs that determine the kinds of vehicles you’re permitted to drive: Class A, Class B, and Class C. CDL classification is also determined by the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and other specific requirements. It takes highly specialized knowledge and skills to operate a commercial motor vehicle. But prior to 1986, many states allowed anyone with an automobile driver license to operate a CMV. As a result, many drivers throughout the country were driving CMVs without proper training. On October 27, 1986, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was signed into law. This law made it mandatory for all drivers of commercial vehicles to have a CDL. By ensuring that bus drivers and operators of large trucks are highly trained and qualified, this law has improved highway safety significantly.

What is a Commercial Learner’s Permit?

A commercial learner’s permit (CLP) is a permit given by your state that authorizes you to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle. Obtaining a CLP is the first step towards earning a commercial driver’s license.

How can I get my Commercial Driver’s License?

The minimum age to apply for a CDL is typically 21. However, some states allow drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to apply for a single-state CDL. A single-state CDL allows the driver to only operate a commercial vehicle within the driver’s state of residence (intrastate driving). When the driver turns 21, that restriction is automatically removed. You can apply for a CDL at a local DMV office. There are strict federal guidelines for obtaining a CDL, and each state has its own requirements that need to be also met. You must pass both a written knowledge exam and a driving skills test, which are designed by your state.

Compliance with the new Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule is quickly approaching. Beginning February 7, 2022, drivers will have to successfully complete a specific program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction provided by a school or other entity on FMCSA’s new Training Provider Registry (TPR).

SAGE Truck Driving School offers a wide variety of driving and CDL training programs across the country to meet the needs of new drivers and employers. SAGE’s basic CDL training programs are designed based upon the entry-level driver training (ELDT) standards set by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  The programs are continually improved and updated by the schools’ program advisory committee, comprised of a broad base of the trucking industry.  For more information on how you can get started, we suggest you find the SAGE school closest to you and contact them directly.  For a complete list of all our SAGE Truck Driving Schools, visit www.sageschools.com/locations 

How long does it typically take to obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)?

  • The time it takes to obtain a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP) can vary by state due to different processing times and individual preparation for the required tests. Typically, after submitting an application and passing the necessary written exams, a CLP can be issued. The process could take from a few days to a few weeks. Applicants need to study the commercial driving manual and meet any other state-specific requirements, such as medical examinations, before taking the test.

Are there any medical or physical requirements for obtaining a CDL?

  • Yes, there are specific medical and physical requirements for obtaining a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Applicants must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination conducted by a certified medical examiner. This examination assesses an individual’s physical ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely and includes vision and hearing tests, blood pressure measurement, and evaluation of any medical conditions that could impair driving ability. The results are documented on a DOT Medical Examiner’s Certificate, which must be renewed periodically.

Can individuals with a CDL from one state operate a commercial vehicle in another state, or are there restrictions?

  • CDL holders are generally allowed to operate a commercial vehicle in states other than where the license was issued, thanks to the nationwide recognition of CDLs across the United States. This means that a CDL obtained in one state is valid for driving commercial vehicles in all other states, subject to any restrictions or endorsements on the license. However, drivers must comply with the specific traffic laws and regulations of each state they operate in. It’s important to note that while the license is widely recognized, certain endorsements or requirements, especially for specialized cargo like hazardous materials, may vary slightly by state.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is based on the data available as of its writing and is meant to inform and guide prospective CDL trainees. For the most current information and specifics about CDL training programs, please contact SAGE Truck Driving Schools directly.