The idea of driving a great big shiny truck and trailer down the highway is an appealing one to many young men and women. After all, being a professional truck driver is a great way to see the country. The only thing better than seeing the country is getting paid to do it. However, there is a little more to being a driver than just hopping in the truck and taking off.
The first step is to acquire your Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. A CDL is required to operate several different categories of vehicles within the United States. For this article we will be looking at Class A CDL’s, which is the most expansive type of the licenses available.
Class A CDL
The Class A CDL will allow the holder to operate any type of vehicle that requires a CDL license. However, the driver must also have the correct endorsements for the vehicle. For instance, a Class B CDL is all that is required to operate a school bus. But, the driver must have a passenger endorsement. Therefore, a Class A license holder with a passenger endorsement could operate the bus legally.
Class A CDLs are required to operate combination vehicles, or trucks with trailers, that are over 26,000 pounds gross weight. These vehicles are considered to be commercial vehicles when the weight extends beyond 26,000 pounds.
You also may be considering becoming a hot shot truck driver, more of a freelance truck driver. Even a hot shot trucker, you’ll need to get your CDL.
When a truck driver applies for a Class A CDL there are several tests he may be given. The first test will be the combination vehicle test. This test is aimed at checking the knowledge of the future truck driver in regards to trailers and their operation. It will contain questions regarding how a trailer should be inspected and what it might do in certain situations. There will be other tests as well, in addition to the combination vehicle test.
Another common test for Class A CDL drivers is the airbrakes endorsement test. This one is popular because most big rigs are equipped with air brakes, and it is important that a truck driver knows how the system works. The questions on this test involve inspecting the brake system and preventing the failure of components by knowing when to replace them.
If a Class A CDL truck driver is going to be required to haul hazardous materials in his rig, then he will need to complete the haz-mat tests. These tests will be aimed at examining truck driver knowledge on proper handling of hazardous materials. It will also contain questions regarding how they should be stored and hauled. On top of taking a written or computer based test, the driver will also have to undergo a federal background check. It is important to note that certain criminal histories can disqualify you from hauling haz-mat.
So, before you make up your mind to become a professional truck driver, be sure to study the license requirements for the job you want to do. Knowing ahead of time what tests your state will require you to take could save you time and money.