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What Standards Must a Truck Driver Pass to Receive a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)?

What Standards Must a Truck Driver Pass to Receive a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)?

Part 2 in an 8-Part Summary of Trucking Regulations…  

FMCSA Regs. Parts 383 and 391 re commercial drivers license (CDL) standards and qualifications of drivers

The federal government readily acknowledges that operating a over the road tractor and trailer is inherently more dangerous endeavor than the operation of a normal vehicle. Therefore, the federal regulations set the bar appropriately high for receiving a commercial drivers license, known in the industry as a “CDL”.

Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Regulation 391 an applicant for a CDL must satisfy several general requirements, including the following:

First, the driver must pass a driving or skills test that tests the essential skills, as outlined in the regulation, for operating a motor vehicle of the type the driver expects to operate. That skill test includes at least the following items within the expected class of motor vehicle:

  • The pre-trip inspection required by FMCSA regulation;
  • Coupling and uncoupling of combination units, if the equipment he/she may drive includes combination units;
  • Placing the commercial motor vehicle in operation;
  • Use of the commercial motor vehicle’s controls and emergency equipment;
  • Operating the commercial motor vehicle in traffic and while passing other motor vehicles;
  • Turning the commercial motor vehicle;
  • Braking, and slowing the commercial motor vehicle by means other than braking; and
  • Backing and parking the commercial motor vehicle.

In addition, the applicant for a CDL must certify that he/she is not subject to any disqualification under the regulations, such as a deficient standard state driver’s license.

Further, before a motor carrier can hire a driver as an employee they must verify that the driver is a qualified driver under the regulations. In order to be a qualified driver a
driver must:

  • At least 21 years old;
  • Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to adequately understand all traffic signs and to interact with the public and regulatory officials;
  • Can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of commercial motor vehicle he/she drives;
  • Is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with the qualifications set out in the regulations;
  • Has a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued only by one State or jurisdiction;
  • Is not disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the regulations; and
  • Has completed a driver’s road test and has been issued a certificate of driver’s road test in accordance with regulation standards.

The purpose of these requirements and qualifications is to create a general layer of safety that ensures the overall quality of commercial trucking operation. However, the system is not infallible. Therefore, when dealing with trucking litigation it is imperative to examine the certification of the driver involved in the accident to verify that their certification status was fully complete and up to date at the time of the accident.

Read Part 3 of Trucking Regulations… 

Are commercial trucks required to have minimum insurance coverage?

– Back to Part 1

Starr Austen and Miller, specialized truck accident lawyers in Indiana, focus on representing individuals and their family members in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, such as those often involved in Indiana truck accidents. If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident you can contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.