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Commercial Drivers License (CDL) Information
Prior to the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986, anyone in any state with a standard-issue driver’s license could also operate a large, commercial-size vehicle such as a tractor-trailer or bus. However, this presented a large problem in terms of safety for the driver and for those around them on streets and highways. Many people otherwise unqualified, nonetheless, got behind the wheel and hauled tons of cargo and even people without any of today’s CDL training in handling such vehicles in regular and emergency situations.
CDL Training Signed Into Law
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act was signed into law on October 27, 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. The goal of the Act was to provide bus and truck driver training and improve highway safety by removing unsafe and unqualified drivers from the highways. Although the act was signed as a Federal Law, each state still oversees the issuance of the CDL according to established minimum national standards which are enforced on a Federal level.
Classes of CDL Licenses:
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drivers need CDL training if they are in interstate, intrastate, or foreign commerce and drive a vehicle that meets one of the following definitions of a Commercial Vehicle (CMV) according to the following license classifications: Class A -- Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. Class B -- Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR. Class C -- Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials. Although every State develops its own CDL training school tests according to Federal standards, other States, employers, training facilities, governmental departments and agencies, and private institutions can serve as third party skills testers for the State. However, they must meet the following criteria:
Tests must be the same as those given by the State.
Examiners must meet the same qualifications as State examiners.
States must conduct an on-site inspection at least once a year.
At least annually, State employees must evaluate the programs by taking third party tests as if they were test applicants, or by testing a sample of drivers tested by the third party and then comparing pass/fail rates.
The State's agreement with the third party skills tester must allow the FHWA and the State to conduct random examinations, inspections, and audits without prior notice.
Although it may seem like CDL training is a long and arduous process, in the end it’s very similar to standard vehicle training, except on a much larger scale. And, like the vehicles themselves, the rewards—and the paychecks—for completing truck driver training and getting a CDL are huge.
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