Let’s Start With The Basics | What is a CDL?
“CDL” is an abbreviation for commercial driver’s license. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is the driver’s license required to operate large, heavy, or placarded hazardous material vehicles for commercial purposes anywhere in the United States. Several types of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) require a driver to hold a valid CDL.
The driver may also be required to earn one or more special endorsements, such as Air Brakes, Hazardous Materials (Hazmat), Tankers, or Passenger Vehicles to drive a vehicle equipped with air brakes, a truck with a tank, a truck carrying hazardous materials, or a passenger vehicle respectively. Each type of CDL and endorsement requires that you pass a written test, and some also require a skills test. Some types of CDL endorsements have additional requirements. Types of endorsements include Class A CDL, B, and C classes, depending on the vehicle type.
How Do You Get your CDL Prior to Any Endorsements?
To get your CDL:
- You must be at least 21 years of age or at least 18 years of age to drive intrastate
- Submit your state’s CDL Application and pay the application fee
- Provide identity and Social Security number verification (Varies by state)
- Provide proof of residency for state and US
- Submit your Medical Examination Report Form and Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form
- Pass your vision test
- Pass a written CDL knowledge exam
- After passing, be issued your Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP)
- Wait at least 14 days before you can schedule a CDL road skills examination
- Pass the pre-trip inspection
- Pass the road skills and driving examination (bring your own vehicle)
- After passing, pay the necessary fees for your new CDL
For your information, if you are a military veteran with experience driving military buses or military trucks, your state may allow you to waive any or all of the following written tests: CDL General Knowledge, Passenger, Tanker, or Hazmat, with proof of relevant military experience.
In most states, acceptable documents include your social security card, a Medicare ID card, a current ID card from any of the US Armed Forces, or a military separation document, otherwise known as a DD-214. Some states may accept other forms of social security number proof, so check with your local department before you go to your exam.
The list of documents accepted as proof of your identity also varies by state. Some of the most commonly accepted include a US birth certificate or certified copy of the certificate, valid US passport, USCIS American Indian Card, valid military ID card, certificate of either Citizenship or Naturalization, Permanent Resident Card, or Temporary Resident ID Card.
In all likelihood, your state probably accepts other documents as proof of identity, so it’s best to check your state CDL manual or BMV/DMV website for the latest information. Proof of residency requirements will vary by state as well. You may only need to provide a copy of a single utility bill depending on your state of residence like in states, such as Alabama, while others like California may require two or three different documents from a list of up to eighteen different options. Be aware the address on the documents must match the address on your CDL application.
A simple portion of this process consists of a vision exam, which you will take with the rest of your CDL exams, but the more in-depth portion involves submitting required medical reports. As of 2021, due to a new law, whether you drive intrastate or interstate, you must supply two forms to your state commercial driver’s licensing agency: the Medical Examination Report Form and the Medical Examiner’s Certificate Form. If you are going to drive interstate, you must use a specific medical examiner listed on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to fill out your forms. If these forms are a required part of your job, then your employer must pay for them.
When Do You Need a Class A CDL?
If you are a commercial driver and you are seeking the most comprehensive certification endorsement, a Class A CDL is for you. A Class A endorsement encompasses everything in the traditional CDL, as well as all the lower-weight vehicle endorsements.
You need to get a Class A CDL License if you are driving a combination of vehicles with a weight over 26,000 pounds, and the vehicle that is being towed is over 10,000 pounds. For most states, this would include commercial vehicles that have trailers or semi-trailers with two or more axles.
How to Get Your Class A CDL Endorsement
To get your Class A CDL license, you need to complete all the steps to get your CDL and also pass the written test. First things first, you need to bring a class A vehicle to your driving skills test. Depending on your particular vehicle or the type of employment you will be seeking, you may need to take extra endorsement exams, such as the Double Triple endorsement exam, which allows you to drive with double or triple trailers.
If your vehicle has air brakes, you will also be required to pass the air brakes exam. Once you’ve filled out all the required paperwork, filed all necessary documentation, passed your written and driving tests, you’ll have your new class A CDL. To summarize:
- Pass general CDL knowledge test and Combination Vehicles knowledge test
- Bring a class A vehicle to your road skills test apply for recommended class A CDL endorsements (such as double-triple)
How Can I Prepare For a Class A CDL Exam?
For more than 30 years, the safety experts at the Transit & Paratransit Company have designed commercial driver training programs to reduce accidents and improve the safety of bus drivers, truck drivers, and passengers. Over 450 agencies and almost every major contractor use the TAPTCO training courses at any and every location.
All of TAPTCO‘s training courses are video-based and delivered by professional narrators. They demonstrate the desired behaviors, and there are many techniques to maintain trainee attention such as driver pop-ups, alternative views, and many stops to provoke discussion. These courses have been professionally created involving industry experts, industrial psychologists, and learning strategists, and far exceed any training materials created by a location itself.
If you’re looking for expert preparation to get your Class A CDL, go with the best. Trust Taptco’s high standards and bring the safety culture to the road. Visit https://taptco.com/ for more information.