What New Truck Drivers Need To Know About CDL Endorsements
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.