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1.4 Special Requirements for Certain Vehicles

To operate the following vehicles, a driver must meet special requirements established by other governmental agencies:

  • School buses (individuals should contact their local school districts).
  • Religious organization buses.
  • Child care vehicles.
  • Vehicles used in for-profit ride sharing programs.
  • Vehicles used for senior citizen transportation.

A driver should check with his/her employer or the local Driver Services facility to obtain the special requirements for operating these types of vehicles.

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 establishes a uniform national classification system.

1.5 Driver's License Classifications

  • Class A - Combination vehicles - GCWR* of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR** of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B - Single vehicle with a GVWR** of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C - Single vehicle with a GVWR** of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D - Single vehicle with a GVWR** of less than 16,001 pounds.

1.6 Special Endorsements for Certain Vehicles

There are seven special CDL endorsements and one restriction that require testing, which are summarized below. In addition, drivers who do not pass the air brake portion of the exams are restricted to driving vehicles without air brakes.

Type of Vehicle (Endorsement/Restriction)
Knowledge Exam
Skills/Driving Exam
Charter Bus Endorsement (C)
x
x
Combination Tank and Hazardous Materials (X)
x
Double/Triple Trailers (T)
x
Passenger Vehicles (P)
x
x
School Bus Endorsement (S)
x
x
Tank Vehicles (N)
x
Vehicles Carrying Hazardous Materials (H)
x
Vehicles Without Air Brakes (L-RESTRICTION)
x
x

1.7 Commercial Driver's License Exams

In addition to the vision screening required for all drivers, all CDL applicants are required to pass a written exam, and most are required to pass a skills and driving exam.

Computerized Written Knowledge Exam

The computerized written knowledge exam consists of standardized multiple-choice questions. In addition, specialized exams are added if you wish to operate any of the following vehicles: vehicles with air brakes (also requires a skills and road test), combination vehicles, double or triple trailers, vehicles carrying hazardous materials, passenger-carrying vehicles, school buses or tanker vehicles.

Third-Time Fail Rule

CDL applicants who fail any CDL exam(s) three (3) times are required to wait 30 days from the date of the third failed exam. Three additional failures (6 total failures) of the same exam(s) will result in a 90-day waiting period. Three additional failures (9 total failures) of the same exam(s) after the 90-day waiting period will result in a one year waiting period from the date of the last failed exam. The waiting periods apply only to the exam(s) failed three times. Applicants are allowed three attempts to pass per fee. After failing any test three (3, 6, 9) times, an appropriate fee will be required to re-take the exam.

Skills and Driving Exam

After passing the written exam, some drivers are required to pass a skills and driving exam. The exam is divided into three parts:

  • The pre-trip inspection is conducted to determine whether the applicant knows how to inspect the vehicle to see if it is safe to drive. Drivers are asked to conduct a pre-trip inspection. The driver must explain to the examiner what is being inspected and why. Section 2.1 and Section 10 of this study guide explain the pre-trip inspection.
  • The basic control skills exam evaluates a driverʼs ability to use basic skills to control the vehicle. Applicants complete exercises on a course marked by lines, traffic cones or similar boundaries. The exercises test the driverʼs ability to move the vehicle forward, backward and through turning movements. Drivers are scored on how well they stay within the boundaries.
  • The driving exam tests the driverʼs ability to drive safely in a variety of on-road situations. The road test route may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, upgrades, downgrades, rural or semi-rural routes, multi-lane city streets and/or expressway driving.

Any person found cheating on any portion of a written exam will fail that portion of the exam. In addition, the person is prohibited from retaking the exam for a period of 30 days. “Cheating” is defined as receiving or using unauthorized assistance in the taking of any portion of an exam, including, but not limited to, the use of notes, books or written information.

Any person convicted of offering a bribe to anyone authorized by law to provide driving instructions or administer driverʼs license exams may have his/her driving privileges suspended or withheld for 120 days. The offense is a Class 2 felony, which carries a three-to seven-year prison sentence and fines of up to $25,000.

1.8 MCSIA Rule

All CDL holders are required by federal law to provide a one-time, 10-year driving history check on renewal or surrender of an out-of-state license to obtain a CDL. CDL holders applying for a corrected or duplicate license also are required to submit to a one-time, 10-year driving history check.

1.9 Documentation Required to Obtain a CDL

As is required for any driverʼs license, CDL applicants are required to show documentation verifying their identity, date of birth, residency, signature and Social Security number.

Most operators of commercial vehicles with a gross motor vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more are required to carry a Medical Examiner’s Certificate with them at all times while operating a second division vehicle. In addition, these drivers are required to maintain a file that contains a written exam verification, driving exam verification and other records.

In addition, commercial vehicle drivers must:

  • Be at least age 21 to drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines, carry hazardous materials or transport any passengers.
  • Certify that they do not have more than one driver’s license, and that their driving privileges are not suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified.
  • Certify that they meet the medical requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations or that they are not subject to the regulations.

Do I Need a DOT Medical Card?

You will need to carry a medical card with you if:

  • Operate a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise (private or for hire); or
  • Operate a passenger carrying vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver; or
  • Operate any vehicle transporting hazardous materials of a quantity that would require placarding.
There is a high probability of being asked a question or two about the different CDL classes. Make sure you memorize how each class differs, paying special attention to the weight limits of each. You should also memorize the meaning and differences between GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating) and GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) - see previous page.
Familiarize yourself with the different endorsements required and which tests must be taken for each.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.

Commercial Motor Vehicle:

A commercial motor vehicle is any vehicle used in commerce to transport passengers or property with either:

  • A gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more
  • A gross combination weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more which includes a towed unit with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds
  • DOT:

    Department Of Transportation

    A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

    State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

    GVWR:

    Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

    GVWR is the maximum operating weight of a vehicle as specified by the manufacturer, minus any trailers.

    GCWR:

    Gross Combined Weight Rating

    The GCWR refers to the total weight of a vehicle, including all trailers.

    BMI:

    Body mass index (BMI)

    BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

    • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
    • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

    It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

    Dm:

    Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

    The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

    OWI:

    Operating While Intoxicated

Review Questions - Click On The Picture To Begin...

Who must pass a DOT medical exam and carry a valid Medical Examiner's Certificate at all times while operating a commercial vehicle?
  • An operator of any vehicle transporting hazardous materials of a quantity that would require placarding
  • An operator of a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more (both private and for hire)
  • An operator of a passenger carrying vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver
  • All of these require a DOT medical card

Quote From The CDL Manual:

You will need to carry a medical card with you if:

  • Operate a commercial vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more in the furtherance of a commercial enterprise (private or for hire); or
  • Operate a passenger carrying vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver; or
  • Operate any vehicle transporting hazardous materials of a quantity that would require placarding.
Next
How many CDL endorsements are there?
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 5

Quote From The CDL Manual:

There are seven special CDL endorsements and one restriction that require testing. In addition, drivers who do not pass the air brake portion of the exams are restricted to driving vehicles without air brakes.

The endorsements are:

  • 1. Charter Bus (C)
  • 2. Combination Tank and Hazardous Materials (X)
  • 3. Double/Triple Trailers (T)
  • 4. Passenger Vehicles (P)
  • 5. School Bus Endorsement (S)
  • 6. Tank Vehicles (N)
  • 7. Vehicles Carrying Hazardous Materials (H)

Restrictions:

    1. Vehicle Without Air Brakes (L-Restriction)

TruckingTruth's Advice:

We highly recommend that everyone get all endorsements available because:

  • You don't want to restrict your opportunities
  • The tests are fairly quick, simple, and inexpensive
  • You're already going through the process of learning the materials anyhow

So make sure you get all of the endorsements.

Prev
Next
Drivers attempting to obtain a Class-A CDL must also take which of the following exams:
  • Basic Control Skills Exam
  • Pre-Trip Inspection Exam
  • All of these exams must be taken
  • Driving Exam

Quote From The CDL Manual:

After passing the written exam, some drivers are required to pass a skills and driving exam. The exam is divided into three parts:

  • 1) The pre-trip inspection is conducted to determine whether the applicant knows how to inspect the vehicle to see if it is safe to drive. Drivers are asked to conduct a pre-trip inspection. The driver must explain to the examiner what is being inspected and why.
  • 2) The basic control skills exam evaluates a driverʼs ability to use basic skills to control the vehicle. Applicants complete exercises on a course marked by lines, traffic cones or similar boundaries. The exercises test the driverʼs ability to move the vehicle forward, backward and through turning movements. Drivers are scored on how well they stay within the boundaries.
  • 3) The driving exam tests the driverʼs ability to drive safely in a variety of on-road situations. The road test route may include left and right turns, intersections, railway crossings, curves, upgrades, downgrades, rural or semi-rural routes, multi-lane city streets and/or expressway driving.

TruckingTruth's Advice:

To obtain a CDL driving permit, all written exams must be passed. At that point, permit holders are able to drive commercial vehicles with the aid of a licensed CDL instructor who will help coach the student to pass the pre-trip, basic control, and driving exams at a later date.

Prev
Next
Which written exams must be taken in order to drive a single-trailer combination vehicle exceeding 26,001 pounds equipped with air brakes?
  • General Knowledge, Air Brakes, Combination Vehicles
  • Air Brakes, General Knowledge, Double/Triple trailers
  • General Knowledge, Passenger, Hazardous Materials
  • Air Brakes, Combination Vehicles, Passenger

Quote From The CDL Manual:

Computerized Written Knowledge Exam - The computerized written knowledge exam consists of standardized multiple-choice questions. In addition, specialized exams are added if you wish to operate any of the following vehicles:

  • Vehicles with air brakes (also requires a skills and road test)
  • Combination vehicles
  • Double or triple trailers
  • Vehicles carrying hazardous materials
  • Passenger-carrying vehicles
  • School buses
  • Tanker vehicles

TruckingTruth's Advice:

For truck drivers, it's most important to be able to pass the General Knowledge, Air Brakes, and Combination Vehicles exams first. Once you are able to pass those exams, it's highly recommended you also take the Tanker, Double/Triple Trailers, Passenger, and Hazardous Materials exams.

Prev
Next
A class B CDL holder can operate any of the following, except:
  • Combination vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds
  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds
  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds
  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of less than 16,001 pound

Quote From The CDL Manual:

  • Class A Combination vehicles GCWR* of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B Single vehicle with a GVWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C Single vehicle with a GVWR* of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D Single vehicle with a GVWR* of less than 16,001 pounds.

*GCWR Gross Combination Weight Rating

*GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Prev
Next
Which of the following requires a class A CDL?
  • Combination vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds
  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds
  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of less than 16,001 pounds
  • Single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds

Quote From The CDL Manual:

  • Class A Combination vehicles GCWR* of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B Single vehicle with a GVWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C Single vehicle with a GVWR* of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D Single vehicle with a GVWR* of less than 16,001 pounds.

*GCWR Gross Combination Weight Rating

*GVWR Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

Prev
Next
There are 4 different classes of CDL licenses. Which of the following is incorrect?
  • Class C - Single vehicle with a GVWR of at least 10,001 pounds but less than 20,001 pounds
  • Class A - Combination vehicles - GCWR of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds
  • Class D - Single vehicle with a GVWR of less than 16,001 pounds
  • Class B - Single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds

Quote From The CDL Manual:

The classes of licenses are as follows:

  • Class A - Combination vehicles - GCWR* of 26,001 or more pounds providing the GVWR of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B - Single vehicle with a GVWR* of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class C - Single vehicle with a GVWR* of at least 16,001 pounds but less than 26,001 pounds.
  • Class D - Single vehicle with a GVWR* of less than 16,001 pounds.

*GCWR - Gross Combination Weight Rating

*GVWR - Gross Vehicle Weight Rating

TruckingTruth's Advice:

Be sure to memorize the different CDL classes, including the various weight limits for each, as at least one question almost always comes up during the state exam.

Prev
Finish
Please select an option
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