What Is a Commercial Driver?

Do you have what it takes to become a commercial driver? It’s not as easy as you may think

Commercial drivers may work for a company or be self-employed. It’s estimated that out of the 8 million Americans employed in the trucking industry in the U.S., over 3.6 million are drivers.

There are many requirements and qualifications that you must meet to obtain your commercial driver’s license (CDL). In this blog post, we will discuss what is a commercial driver and what are the necessary steps to becoming one!

What Is a Commercial Driver?

A commercial driver is a professional driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). A CMV is any vehicle used for business purposes that weighs 26,001 pounds or more. This can include trucks, buses, vans, and commercial cars.

They are responsible for transporting goods and materials from one location to another. They may also be responsible for loading and unloading the vehicle and conducting vehicle maintenance in some cases.

A commercial driver must have a valid CDL to operate a CMV. They are also required to adhere to strict regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation (DOT). These regulations include hours of service, drug and alcohol testing, and vehicle inspection.

Qualifications for Becoming a Commercial Driver

There are many qualifications that you must meet to become a commercial driver. Some of these qualifications include:

Be of Legal Age

If you want to become a commercial driver, you must be at least 18 years to drive in your state. However, operating a CMV from one state to another requires you to be 21 years old.

But depending on the type of CMV you wish to operate and the company you work for, the age requirement may be different. For instance, if you want to transport hazardous materials, you must be 21 years old. On the other hand, the minimum age requirement is 25 years old if you want to drive a bus.

So be sure to check with your state’s requirements and the company you wish to work for to see what the minimum age requirement is.

Have a Valid Driver’s License

It goes without saying that you must have a valid driver’s license to become a commercial driver. But not just any driver’s license will do. You must obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.

Remember, the type of license you need will depend on the type of CMV you wish to operate.  For example, if you want to operate a tractor-trailer, you need a Class A license. But if you only want to operate a smaller truck, such as a delivery truck, you will only need a Class C license.

There are also different endorsements that you can add to your CDL that will allow you to operate certain vehicles or transport certain materials. For instance, if you want to transport hazardous materials, you will need a hazmat endorsement on your CDL.

To obtain your CDL, you will need to pass a written CDL Practice Test and a skills test. The written exam will test your knowledge of the DOT regulations. On the other hand, the skills test will test your ability to operate the CMV. 

Proof of State Residency

You will need to provide the DMV with two documents that confirm your state residency. These can be a rental or mortgage agreement, utility bills, or bank statements.

You will also need to bring your out-of-state driver’s license and have it surrendered to the DMV. This is so they can issue you a new license with your current address.

If you have a valid out-of-state commercial driver’s license (CDL), you may be able to transfer it to your state. You can do this by passing a vision test, a written exam, and a skills test.

Pass a DOT Physical Examination

The Department of Transportation (DOT) oversees the safety of all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) on US roads. To ensure that drivers are physically and mentally capable of operating a CMV, the DOT requires drivers to pass a physical examination every two years.

The examination includes a vision test, hearing test, blood pressure check, and urine test. Drivers must also disclose any medical conditions that could potentially impair their ability to drive safely.

Once a driver has passed the examination, they will be issued a DOT medical card which must be kept up-to-date to continue driving commercially. Although the DOT physical examination may seem like an inconvenience, it is important for keeping our roads safe.

Clean Driving Record

If you’ve ever been pulled over for a speeding ticket, you know that it can lead to an increase in your insurance rates. But for commercial drivers, a speeding ticket can have even greater consequences.

That’s because commercial drivers are held to a higher standard when it comes to their driving records. To obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you must have a clean driving record.

Otherwise, you will likely be denied the license, and without a CDL, you won’t be able to operate a commercial vehicle.

Pass a Background Check

In addition to having a clean driving record, you must also pass a background check to obtain a CDL. The background check will include a review of your criminal history, as well as your employment history.

If you have any felonies on your record or you’ve been fired from a previous job, you may not be eligible for a CDL. That’s because commercial drivers are trusted to transport goods and passengers and keep them safe. So, companies want to make sure that they hire a commercial driver with a history of good behavior.

Become a Commercial Driver Today

So, what is a commercial driver, and how can you become one? Reading our guide above and learning more about the requirements is a great first step.

Then, once you’ve met all of the requirements, you can begin the process of applying for your CDL. Once you have your CDL, you’ll be able to operate a commercial vehicle and start your new career.

Did you like this article? Check out other posts on our site for more career tips.

Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.