What Types of Trucks Do You Need a CDL to Drive?
November 1st, 2021|
Since 1992 drivers have been required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate certain commercial vehicles. These include vehicles like semi-trailers, tanker trucks, and buses.
California requires truck drivers to have a CDL if they drive any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. You also need a CDL if you drive vehicles with a combined weight exceeding 26,000 pounds; the requirement also applies to those driving tractor-trailers.
A commercial driver’s license is important because these are heavy vehicles that require extra training and skill to operate. You must be appropriately licensed and certified, but even the most experienced and careful truck drivers get into accidents.
The size and weight of trucks make them harder to control and bring to a stop in heavy or fast-moving traffic. This makes large trucks more likely to get into crashes and collisions than passenger cars.
If you get into an accident involving a commercial truck and are injured, you’ll need an attorney specializing in truck accident cases. Consider hiring an experienced California truck accident lawyer.
Make sure before you get behind the wheel of any truck that you have the proper licenses. Learn if you need a Class A, Class B, or Class C license to operate a vehicle.
How are Trucks Classified?
Trucks are classified by gross vehicle weight (GVWR) and gross combination weight (GCWR). The type of CDL drivers need depends on the type of vehicle they will be driving.
● Class A License
You will need a Class A license to drive vehicles that possess a gross combined weight (GCWR) of 26,0001 lbs. or more. Any towed vehicle in this class weighs more than 10,000 lbs.
The most common Class A trucks are tractor-trailers, also known as semis or 18-wheelers; these vehicles have a truck cab and a towed trailer.
Other vehicles in this class include tanker trucks, livestock carriers, and flatbed trucks.
Having a Class A license lets you operate most Class B and C vehicles.
● Class B License
You need a Class B license to operate any single vehicle that is not hitched to a trailer. Typically, this is any commercial truck where the cab is attached to the cargo area. In this class, the combined weight of the cab and cargo exceeds 26,001 pounds.
Some of the most common Class B vehicles include box trucks, buses, and straight trucks. This license is also for trucks with a detached towed cargo trailer when the trailer weighs less than 10,000 pounds, such as a small trailer for a dump truck.
Drivers with a Class B license can operate some vehicles requiring a Class C license.
● Class C License
Vehicles that do not fall into Class A or B are designated as Class C. Class C licenses are for passenger vans and buses. Any vehicle that can transport 16 or more people, including the driver, qualifies as Class C.
You will also need a Class C license if you transport hazardous material, as defined by the federal government.
Obtaining a CDL in California
Drivers in California must meet specific state requirements to qualify for a CDL. First, you must have a state driver’s license in good standing.
You must be 18 years of age or older and drive a commercial vehicle within state lines. If you’re driving a commercial vehicle over state lines, transporting passengers, or carrying any hazardous materials, you must be at least 21 years of age. You also have to be a resident of California and have permission to work in the United States.
You must pass written exams before you obtain a CDL. You will undergo a hearing and vision exam and additional medical tests. These requirements are for your safety and those on the road around you.
According to the National Safety Council, trucks make up 4% of the vehicles on the road but account for 10% of all fatal accidents, meaning truck drivers are more likely to get into a severe accident than the average driver.
Ensure that if you’re operating a large motor vehicle, you have the correct license and training to do so. If you hold a CDL and are in an accident where you or someone else becomes injured, seek legal counsel from a reputable law firm.
Truck Companies Can Be Held Liable for Unlicensed Drivers
Some trucking companies will hire drivers who are not licensed to drive a commercial vehicle or have the wrong type of license for the truck they will be driving, because they can pay the inexperienced or underqualified driver less money than they would an experienced and qualified driver. This is irresponsible and dangerous for both the driver of the truck and the drivers of the vehicles who have to share the road with that truck.
If you’ve been involved in an accident with a driver who was not legally qualified to operate that vehicle, you may be able to sue the trucking company for your injuries and other damages.
Our Law Firm Wants to Help
If you’re involved in a truck accident, contact the team at Berg Injury Lawyers today. Our skilled truck accident lawyers are on standby 24/7 to help with your case. Whether you were the victim of an auto accident or were injured on the job, we can ensure you understand your rights and are well-informed when pursuing legal action.