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FAQ CDL: Frequently Asked Questions About Commercial Driver's Licenses

September 01, 2017 12:00 PM
By: Jackie O'Brien DeTrano

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​​Have questions about getting a Commercial Driver's License? For example, what types of vehicles require that you hold a CDL to drive them? What does the Commercial Driver Skills Test entail? Look no further – your questions will be answered here!

Commercial Driver's License

Who needs to get a Commercial Driver's License? A person that drives a motor vehicle that is:

  • A combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the vehicle being towed is more than 10,000 pounds.

  • A single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,001 or more pounds.

  • A vehicle designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver; a school bus; or any vehicle that is transporting hazardous materials and is required to be placarded in accordance with State and Federal regulations.
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    CLASSIFICATIONS

    With the implementation of the Commercial Driver Licensing Program, Pennsylvania adopted the Federal classification system. CDL classifications include:
    CLASS A
    A Class A license is issued to those persons 18 years of age or older who have demonstrated their qualifications to operate any combination of vehicles with a GvWR of 26,001 pounds or more, provided the GvWR of the vehicle or vehicles being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds. The holder of a Class A license is qualified to operate vehicles for which a Class B or Class C license is issued. Where required, appropriate endorsements must be obtained.
    CLASS B
    A Class B license is issued to those persons 18 years of age or older who have demonstrated their qualifications to operate any single vehicle with a GvWR of 26,001 pounds or more or any such vehicle towing a vehicle having a vWR of not more than 10,000 pounds. The holder of a Class B license is qualified to operate vehicles for which a Class C license is issued. Where required, appropriate endorsements must be obtained.
    CLASS C
    A Class C license is issued to those persons 18 years of age or older who have demonstrated their qualifications to operate any single vehicle with a GvWR of not more than 26,000 pounds or any combination of vehicles, except combination vehicles involving motorcycles, not meeting the definition of a Class A or Class B vehicle. Where required, appropriate endorsements must be obtained.

    NOTE: You must be 21 years of age or older to operate a Commercial motor vehicle interstate. This applies to ALL classes.

    Commercial Driver's Knowledge Test

    CSL-manual-cover-line.jpgHow do I prepare to take the Commercial Drivers Knowledge Test? You will need to pass the Knowledge Tests that are required for the class of license, restriction, and endorsements you wish to possess. A general knowledge test for the Class A or Class B and C license must be successfully completed by all CDL applicants. The information needed to pass these tests is contained in the CDL driver's manual. This manual is available on PennDOT's website. Please read and study this manual carefully.

    Commercial Driver's Skills Test

    What does the Commercial Driver's Skills Test entail? PennDOT has phased in requirements for Commercial Driver Skills Test (CDST) as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration. PennDOT testing centers began using the new test the week of June 15, 2015. To complete the test, you must pass three parts in the following order; Vehicle Inspection, Basic Controls Skills Test, and On the Road Skills Test.

    The Vehicle Inspection
    During the Vehicle inspection, you must show that the vehicle is safe to drive. You must walk around the vehicle and point to or touch each item and explain to the examiner what you are checking and why. You will NOT have to crawl under the hood or under the vehicle

    The Basic Controls Skills Test
    Your basic control skills could be tested using one or more of the following exercises off-road or somewhere on the street during the road test: Straight line backing. Offset back/right Offset back/left Parallel park (driver side). Parallel park (conventional). Alley dock.

    The On The Road Skills Test
    You will drive over a test route that has a variety of traffic situations. At all times during the test, you must drive in a safe and responsible manner; and you must: Wear your safety belt. Obey all traffic signs, signals, and laws. Complete the test without an accident or moving violation.

    Job Opportunities

    Already have your CDL and looking for a job? PennDOT is hiring for full and part-time seasonal CDL Drivers throughout Pennsylvania. Click here to view openings.

    For more PennDOT information, visit www.penndot.gov. Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #CDL. Follow PennDOT on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


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