Federal law requires each state to establish minimum requirements for the licensing of commercial drivers.
Anyone interested in getting a commercial drivers license can download a copy of his or her state’s Commercial Driver’s License Manual (also known as a CDL Manual), or visit the local satellite office of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and ask for a print copy of the commercial driver handbook.
When You Need a CDL
You must obtain a CDL in order to operate:
- A vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds.
- Any combination of vehicles with a total weight of 26,000 pounds or more.
- Any vehicle designed to transport more than fifteen passengers, including the driver.
- A school bus.
- Any size vehicle transporting hazardous materials.
Additionally, all CDL holders must have medical certification in order to drive one of these vehicles.
Information in the CDL Manual
Within the commercial drivers manual, you’ll find information about:
- Driver’s Safety: The basics of vehicle inspection and control, shifting gears, managing space, seeing hazards, driving in hazardous weather conditions and in hazardous locales.
- Safe Cargo Transportation: How to inspect cargo, the basics of weight displacement and balance, and handling cargo requiring special attention.
- Passenger Safety: Loading passengers, prohibited practices, and how to use brake-door interlocks.
- Air Brakes: The parts of an air brake system, dual air brakes, and how to use air brakes.
- Combination Vehicles: How to drive combination vehicles safely, how to brake combination vehicles, and coupling and uncoupling.
- Doubles and Triples: The ins and outs of pulling double and triple trailers, coupling and uncoupling, and how to brake double and triple vehicles.
- Tank Vehicles: Inspecting and driving tank vehicles.
- Carrying Hazardous Materials: Loading and unloading hazardous materials, driving and parking regulations, emergencies.
- School Bus Operation: Danger zones, use of mirrors, loading and unloading passengers, railroad crossings, student management.
Will you be studying the CDL handbook soon?