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How to Obtain Class B Commercial Driver License (CDL) Certification

Higher Education Articles December 4, 2012

Currently, there are no certification program to help drivers get themselves a Class B commercial driver license (CDL). However, there are CDL training programs drivers can join that will help them prepare for the relevant licensing exam. In these programs, classroom teaching are combined with coaching given from behind the wheel.

The implication of Class B CDL

Once a driver obtained a Class B CDL; a driver can embark on operation of commercial trucks weighing in excess of 26,000 pounds; the weight refers to a combination of a cargo area and an attached cab. The Class B CDL will entitle the licensed driver to operate a truck weighing below 10,000 pounds; such truck can have a detached cargo vehicle towed behind it.

These vehicles — that a Class B CDL license allow drivers to operate — can include utility trucks, delivery trucks, dump trucks, and tow trucks.  However, the license will not be sufficient to allow the driver to operate some special-purpose vehicles, such as fire engines, specific farm vehicles, commercial buses and school buses. To operate these vehicles, there are standard requirements that drivers need to complete.

The federal government has laid out minimum requirements that a driver have to meet in order to receive a CDL license. The requirements may vary state-wise, but they are likely to be at least as stringent as the federal rules. The state may conduct testing for a CDL or it may be done through an authorized training program or school.

How the Training Program Works

Community colleges and vocational schools offer Class B CDL training programs that impart the knowledge and skills required by drivers in order to take the state CDL examination. The length of the program could differ depending on the school that conducts it, but it could take up to four weeks at most. During the initial phase of the program, students learn about related trucking and traffic laws; these appear in federal safety regulations and the relevant state’s CDL manual. Students will be taught about the applicable federal rules relating to cargo and truck transportation as well as the process of completing relevant paperwork relating to freight transportation.

In the latter phase, students are given outdoor training where they are taught how to inspect a truck and its freight before a trip. A great deal of time are allotted to training imparted behind the wheel. During this phase, truck driving skills are practiced by drivers undergoing training through the supervision of an accompanied driver who has already earned a CDL.

The training program covers a multitude of skills including defensive driving, city and highway driving, unloading and loading, docking, parking and backing, and vehicle control including gear shifting.

Standard Requirements

All applicants who enroll into CDL training programs are required to possess a Class B CDL learner’s permit; to obtain the permit, the Class B CDL applicants need to take a test. Additionally; they need to be at least eighteen years of age, though in some states the minimum eligible age is twenty-one. They have to possess a valid driver’s license free of any violation and need to complete a drug and medical examination.

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