Ready to dive into the world of trucking? First things first, you will need to obtain your CDL license, and depending on what type of vehicle you will be using, you will need to either obtain a commercial drivers license (CDL) class A or B.
Commercial Drivers License Class A: when you want to operate a combination of two vehicles and the tractor weighs in excess of 26,001 pounds and the trailer that weighs in excess of 10,001 pounds, you will need a Class A CDL. A commercial license is required when the potential weight of the vehicle can exceed the numbers noted above, also known as the Gross Vehicle weight Rating (GVWR).
Commercial Drivers License Class B: when you want to operate a straight (single) vehicle that weighs in excess of 26,001 pounds you will need a Class B CDL. A Class B CDL license will allow you to also tow a trailer (vehicle) that weighs equal-to-or-less-than 10,000 pounds. A commercial license is required when the potential weight of the vehicle can exceed the numbers noted above, also known as the Gross Vehicle weight Rating (GVWR).
NEW ENTRY-LEVEL DRIVER TRAINING MANDATE
As of February 7th 2022, to obtain a commercial drivers license (CDL), you will need to attend a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved truck driving school offering the mandated Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) curriculum. This curriculum is intended to ensure new drivers are given the proper knowledge and skills to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle.
Once you have chosen a trucking school, Commercial Driver Training at truck driving school will tend to be standardized across the nation, with a few exceptions. How the curriculum is delivered and who delivers it (CDL Instructors) is up to the individual institution. Drivers will usually undergo some classroom instruction, touching on federal regulations and topics related to obtaining your CDL permit, also known as the Commercial Learners Permit (CLP). The CLP will require student to pass a total of four (4) knowledge exams at their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). These exams include the General Knowledge exam, Air Brake exam, Combination Vehicle exam, and Class C renewal exam. Each test must be passed with a minimum score of 80%.
COMMERCIAL LEARNERS PERMIT
After obtaining a CLP, student drivers will then be introduced to the Pre-Trip Inspection. within the pre-trip inspection, student drivers will need to identify and examine the external and internal components of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). The components are determined by the state's commercial motor vehicle training handbook.
CDL SKILLS EXAM
Student drivers will also be introduced to a variety of backing and driving skills in preparation for their state administered commercial drivers license road exam. Backing skills include the straight-line back, offset back left and right, parallel parking driver-side and passenger-side, and ally dock backing. Student drivers will also need to be proficient and safe drivers on the public road-ways and highways.
STATE ADMINISTERED CDL ROAD EXAM
Some states allow for third party testing, which means the school you are attending may offer you the opportunity to take the State's CDL exam in-house. States, like California, currently do not offer this option, which means all truck driving school students must attend the State administered CDL road exam at a designated DMV location. Regardless of where the exam is administered, it should follow the same testing criteria.