A commercial driver's license is a driver's license required to operate large or heavy vehicles.
1. The first step is to decide what type of vehicle and what kind of driving you want to get the CDL for. Refer to the classes of CDL licenses below.
2. Second, you need to obtain a copy of your state’s CDL manual and begin studying
3. Third you will need to take the CDL written test to obtain your CDL permit.
4. Fourth, you will need to get a D.O.T. physical
5. Fifth, you will need to obtain the proper training so that you can pass the practical portion of the CDL test
6. Sixth, you will take the CDL practical exam given by a licensing examiner in your state
Class A: Any combination of vehicles which has a gross combination weight rating or gross combination weight of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) whichever is greater. - See more at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/drivers#sthash.Ssv8bZvM.dpuf
Class B: Any single vehicle which has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more), or any such vehicle towing a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight that does not exceed 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds). - See more at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/drivers#sthash.Ssv8bZvM.dpuf
Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is transporting material that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 CFR Part 172 or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR Part 73. - See more at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/drivers#sthash.Ssv8bZvM.dpuf
We just happen to have a clickable map of the US. Find your state and click it to receive a free copy of your state’s CDL handbook. Alternatively there are clickable links below the map. It is the perfect CDL study guide. Go here to obtain your copy.
The CDL knowledge (written) test for Class A, B, and C, typically is comprised of:
· General Knowledge (Introduction, Driving safely, Transporting Cargo Safely)
· Air Brakes (If you plan on operating a vehicle equipped with them)
· Pre-trip Inspection
· Basic Control Skills (Explanation of scoring and exercise)
· On-Road Driving (Explanation of how you will be tested)
· Additionally CDL Class A applicants must take the written portion on Combination Vehicles.
· Endorsements may be required depending on what type of driving you are planning to do. (See next question).
The endorsement portions of the written test are for applicants who seek to have them added to their license for current or future needs. They are:
· Double/Triple (Trailers attached to Tractor)
· Hazardous Materials
· Tanker Vehicles
· Passenger Vehicles
· School Bus
A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical examination must be conducted by a licensed "medical examiner" listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry. The term includes, but is not limited to, doctors of medicine (MD), doctors of osteopathy (DO), physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nurses (APN), and doctors of chiropractic (DC).
Follow this link to find a medical examiner that is certified by the FMCSA to perform DOT physical exams: https://nationalregistry.fmcsa.dot.gov/NRPublicUI/Drivers.seam
The exam consists of the following items:
· Health history
· Vision exam
· Hearing exam
· Blood Pressure/Pulse rate
· Lab testing (Urinalysis required)
· Physical Exam
See this copy of the Official D.O.T. Medical Examination report so you will know more details: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/Medical_Examination_Report_for_Commercial_Driver_Fitness_Determination_0.pdf
A DOT physical exam is valid for up to 24 months. The medical examiner may also issue a medical examiner's certificate for less than 24 months when it is desirable to monitor a condition, such as high blood pressure.
We have an in depth comprehensive guide to CDL school that you can review. In addition look for our upcoming listing of truck driving schools.
First is the pre-trip inspection. This is where you are showing the examiner that you inspect the vehicle and that it is safe to drive. The inspection is conducted outside the vehicle and inside the vehicle. In addition you are also conducting the air brake test as well. You can see this additional post for further details and information.
The next portion of the test is basic vehicle control consisting of:
· Straight Line Backing
· Offset backing (Left/Right)
· Parallel Parking (Driver side/Conventional)
· Alley dock (90 degree – Driver side or Blind side)
The last portion is the on-road test consisting of driving through various road conditions and areas such as urban, expressway, intersections, railroad crossings, bridges, etc.
You are evaluated on your abilities to drive and control the vehicle checking your skills in the following areas:
Turning the vehicle, changing lanes, going around curves, stopping and starting, steering, following road rules, using your turn signals, proper shifting and clutch usage (double clutching), lane usage, mirror usage, checking traffic and obeying traffic rules and regulations.
Not all states test exactly the same, but the general principles apply. See your state’s CDL manual for details on testing procedures and measurements. In addition, your school will usually have a third party examiner come out to the school and you will be tested on equipment you have used and roadways and areas you have trained at.
To apply for a CDL you must have a valid non-commercial driver's license and in most states be at least 18 years old with one or two years of driving experience depending on the state. To drive interstate, you must be at least 21 years old.
Usually after your receive your CDL permit, you must wait a minimum of 14 days before you can Test. CDL school usually takes between three and seven weeks to complete.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask below. We will add them to the knowledge base to help future drivers out as well.