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CDL Endorsements and Restrictions

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2016

What New Drivers Need To Know About CDL Endorsements and Restrictions:

Pulling different types of freight and trailers may require truck drivers to pass additional tests to get specific CDL endorsements, in addition to their license.

Certain circumstances will require specific restrictions to be placed on a drivers CDL.

Endorsements and restrictions will be indicated with a letter code on your CDL.

Individual states may have additional testing requirements, endorsements and-or restrictions for CDL holders. It is important to review the CDL manual for your specific state for endorsement requirements.

Each trucking company may also have it's own specific training and certification programs, above and beyond CDL endorsement requirements.

See Also: State CDL Manuals Download.

What are the different CDL endorsements?

  • Hazardous Materials (H):

    Required to transport hazardous materials, defined as "any substance or material that could adversely affect the safety of the public, handlers or carriers during transportation".

    A Hazmat endorsement will be indicated with an 'H' on the CDL.

  • Tank Vehicles (Tankers) (N):

    A tank vehicle endorsement is required to transport freight in tanker trailers. It will also be required for transporting over 1,000 gallons of liquid, regardless of container.

    The tank endorsement will be indicated with an 'N' on the CDL.

  • Hazardous and Tank Combined (X):

    CDL driver who will be transporting hazardous materials inside tank trailers will require BOTH Hazmat and Tank Vehicle endorsements.

    Hazardous Materials and Tanker Combo endorsements will be indicated with an 'X' on the CDL.

  • Double, Triple, Combo (T):

    A Double/Triple Endorsement is required to pull double or triple trailers.

    The Double/Triple Endorsement will be indicated with a 'T' on the CDL.

  • Passenger (P):

    To drive any vehicle transporting 16 or more people (including the driver), CDL holders will need to have a passenger endorsement. The test will include loading and unloading procedures, railway crossing rules, and emergency exit use.

    The Passenger Endorsement will be indicated with a 'P' on the CDL.

  • School Bus (S):

    School bus drivers must have a "passenger" (P) endorsement, as well as a separate "school bus" endorsement. The guidelines include specific loading and unloading procedures, emergency exit procedures, student management, and railroad crossing guidelines.

    The School Bus Endorsement will be identified with an 'S' on the CDL.

  • Metal Coil Endorsement (New York State only) (M):

    Specific to New York State, a Metal Coil Endorsement is required for NYS-licensed drivers who will be transporting metal coils.

    The Metal Coil Endorsement will be identified by an 'M' on the CDL.

    New York State Driver's Manual For The Safe Securement Of Metal Coils And Other Cargo

Types of CDL Restrictions:

  • Medical Variance (V):

    The FMCSA will notify the State if a CDL driver is issued a medical variance. This could include diabetes or vision exemptions, or a restriction due to hypertension.

    A medical variance will be indicated with a 'V' on the CDL.

  • No Full Air Brakes Restriction (L):

    Applies if the driver does not pass the Air Brakes Knowledge Test, does not properly conduct an air brake systems check, does not correctly identify the air brake system components, or does not take the Skills test in a vehicle with a full air brake system.

    A "no full air brakes" restriction will be indicated by an 'L' on a drivers CDL.

  • No Full Air Brakes Restriction (Z):

    A "Z" no full air brakes restriction is applied when the driver takes the test in a vehicle with an air over hydraulic brake system.

    In this case, a "no full air brakes" restriction will be indicated with a 'Z' on the CDL. In either case, with a "Z" or "L" restriction, the driver is not authorized to operate a CMV equipped with full air brakes.

  • No Manual Transmission (E):

    Drivers who take their Skills Test in a truck with an automatic transmission, a "no manual transmission" restriction is placed on the CDL.

    A No Manual Transmission restriction will be indicated with an 'E' on the CDL.

  • No Fifth Wheel Restriction (O):

    Applies if the driver takes the Skills Test in a Class A vehicle that has a pintle hook or other non-fifth wheel connection. It restricts them from driving any Class A vehicle with a fifth wheel connection.

    A no fifth wheel restriction will be indicated with an "O" on the drivers license.

  • School Bus and Passenger Restriction (M):

    A driver who has a Class A CDL and obtains their school bus or passenger endorsement in a Class B vehicle is only allowed to operate Class B or C passenger vehicles or school buses.

    This will be indicated with an "M" on the CDL.

  • School Bus and Passenger Restriction (N):

    A driver who has a Class B CDL and obtains their school bus or passenger endorsement in a Class C vehicle is only allowed to operate Class C passenger vehicles or school buses.

    This will be indicated with an "N" on the CDL.

See Also: FMCSA CDL Endorsements and Restrictions. States may have a more restrictive category for a class of license, or have additional codes for endorsements or restrictions on CDLs that are not mentioned in the Federal regulations, as long as these items are fully explained on the license document.

Always check your specific states requirements regarding endorsements and restrictions.

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.

HAZMAT:

Hazardous Materials

Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts of especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under HAZMAT regulations

CSA:

Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle

FMCSA:

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing

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.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

Hypertension:

Abnormally high blood pressure.

Doubles:

Refers to pulling two trailers at the same time, otherwise known as "pups" or "pup trailers" because they're only about 28 feet long. However there are some states that allow doubles that are each 48 feet in length.

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.

Fm:

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.

DMV:

Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.

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