Driving commercial vehicles is no easy task. In fact, it requires special licensing. Under the law, any individual who wants to drive large trucks or buses must acquire a commercial driver’s license before hitting the road.
What Is a Commercial Driver’s License?
A commercial driver’s license, also referred to as a CDL, is a special type of license required to drive larger vehicles, including semi-trucks and buses. For individuals who want to make a career out of driving 18-wheeler trucks or buses, a commercial driver’s license is required.
It takes special knowledge and skill to drive large vehicles. Several decades ago, anyone with a regular license could legally operate a commercial vehicle.
However, once it became evident that the lack of regulation contributed to many collisions, the law changed. Since 1992, individuals who want to drive large trucks and buses must possess CDLs.
Acquiring a commercial driver’s license requires several steps, including getting a commercial learner’s permit (CLP), undergoing driver training, and taking a skills test. Once you officially have a CDL, you can legally operate large commercial vehicles.
Commercial Driver’s License Types
There are multiple types of CDLs. The one you get depends on the type of work you’ll be doing and the kind of vehicle you’ll be operating.
Class A CDL
You’re required to have a Class A CDL if you’re operating any vehicle with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 26,001 pounds or more should the vehicle being towed weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds.
When you obtain a Class A commercial driver’s license, you can operate any of the following:
- Tractor trailers
- Livestock carriers
- A combination of truck and trailer
With additional endorsements, you may also be able to drive some of the vehicles listed under Class B and Class C.
Class B CDL
With a Class B CDL, you’re entitled to drive a large vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more or alternatively, tow a vehicle that does not exceed 10,000 pounds.
A Class B commercial driver’s license allows you to drive any of the following:
- Dump trucks
- Straight trucks
- Tractor trailers
- Passenger buses
- City buses
- Tour buses
If you acquire the right endorsements, a Class B CDL also lets you legally operate vehicles you need a Class C CDL to drive.
Class C CDL
You’ll need a Class C commercial driver’s license to drive a large vehicle that is used to transport at least 16 passengers (including the driver) or tow materials considered hazardous (HazMat) under the law.
A Class C CDL allows you to operate passenger vans, small hazardous materials vehicles, or commercial vehicles not listed under Class A or Class B.
Endorsements To Commercial Driver’s Licenses
Endorsements are special types of authorizations drivers can acquire on their licenses with additional tests. They allow drivers to do more without having to go through the process of getting another type of license.
Endorsement codes include the following:
- T: Double/triple trailers
- S: School buses
- P: Passengers
- N: Tank vehicles
- H: Hazardous materials
- X: Combination of tank vehicles and hazardous materials
Depending on the type of endorsement, you might just need to pass a knowledge test, or you may need a skills test as well.
Commercial Driver’s Licenses Can Minimize Motor Vehicle Accidents and Keep Others Safe
One of the main purposes of CDLs is to ensure that drivers have the knowledge to successfully operate large vehicles. Driving large commercial vehicles without a license can mean danger on the roads.
Unfortunately, even with the right licensing and experience, accidents still happen. If you’re involved in a commercial truck or bus accident, it’s best to seek legal advice from a qualified personal injury attorney.
Contact the Minnesota Truck Accident Law Firm of Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys For Help Today
For more information, please contact an experienced truck accident lawyer at Hall Law Personal Injury Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Minnesota, including Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Edina.