What is a Class A license?
A Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is a type of driver’s license required to operate any combination of vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more if the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle or vehicles towed exceeds 10,000 pounds. This includes vehicles such as tractor-trailers, buses, and some motorhomes.
Every state has its own rules and regulations in regard to commercial vehicles. It’s important to understand these rules not only for your home state but any state that you are driving a commercial vehicle in.
There Are 3 Types Of Class A Licenses
There is a class A, class B, and a class C commercial license. Each license serves a different purpose. Most commercial tractor-trailer drivers operate under a Class A license.
- Class A: This license authorizes drivers to operate vehicles with a gross weight exceeding 26,000 pounds, along with a towed vehicle rated over 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: This license permits drivers to operate vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds that do not have a trailer exceeding 10,000 pounds.
- Class C: This license is designated for drivers of vehicles transporting 16 or more passengers, including the driver, and for the transportation of hazardous materials.
There are various steps you must take in order to receive your Class A license. Let’s take a look at what needs to be done in order to receive a Class A license.
Meet the Eligibility Requirements:
- Age: You must be at least 21 years old.
- Valid Driver’s License: Possess a valid driver’s license from your state of residence.
- Medical Examination: Pass a Department of Transportation (DOT)-mandated physical exam to ensure you meet the health standards for commercial driving.
- Background Check: Pass a background check to demonstrate your driving record and criminal history meet the standards for CDL holders.
Enroll in a CDL Training Program:
- Schooling: Select a CDL training program accredited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and recognized by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- Training Options: Options include online courses, community college programs, and private trucking schools. Each offers varying schedules, durations, and costs.
- Coursework: The training program should cover essential topics like commercial vehicle operation, safety regulations, pre-trip inspections, and maneuvering techniques.
Prepare for the CDL Knowledge Test:
Study Materials: Utilize study guides, practice tests, and online resources provided by your training program or approved by the FMCSA.
Test Content: The knowledge test assesses your understanding of general trucking knowledge, including air brakes, cargo handling, accident procedures, and federal and state regulations.
Test Format: The multiple-choice test typically consists of 50 questions with a time limit of one hour.
Practice Driving Skills:
Behind-the-Wheel Training: Your CDL training program should provide ample hands-on training under the guidance of experienced instructors.
Skill Development: Focus on developing essential skills like pre-trip inspections, maneuvering in tight spaces, handling different road conditions, and operating the vehicle safely and efficiently.
Schedule the CDL Skills Test:
Eligibility: You must possess a valid learner’s permit and complete the required training hours before scheduling the skills test.
Test Appointment: Contact your state’s DMV or authorized testing center to schedule an appointment for the skills test. There will be a road test and a written test. The written test is roughly 50 questions, but some can be tricky! Make sure you study!
The Road Test: The skills test (road test) assesses your ability to operate the commercial vehicle safely and perform various maneuvers like backing up, coupling, and driving in different traffic conditions.
Obtain Your Class A CDL:
Passing Requirements: Pass both the knowledge and skills tests to be eligible for a Class A CDL.
Apply: Apply for your Class A CDL at your state’s DMV or authorized licensing center. Submit the required documents, including your learner’s permit, passing test results, and applicable fees.
Get Your Class A: Upon successful application, you will receive your Class A CDL, authorizing you to operate vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
What Can I Do With My Class A License?
With a Class A CDL, you have the ability to start a successful career in the transportation industry. Truck drivers make the country run smoothly. Without Class A CDL license holders, many hard goods and foods would be unavailable throughout the country.