In the United States, it is illegal to drive a commercial vehicle without a commercial driver’s license (CDL.) Instead of there being a single license for all commercial vehicles, CDLs are divided into classes, which can restrict the types of vehicles driven. The standards may vary a bit from one state to another, but according to the federal guideline, the Class A truck driver is one who can drive a combination vehicle that exceeds 26,001 pounds (11,794 kg).
Those who share the road with a Class A truck driver can assume three things. He can read. He can drive. And, he is at least 21 years old. Without meeting these requirements it would not be possible for him to have a Class A CDL.
One of the greatest differences between the CDL classes is the amount of weight associated with each. The Class A truck driver can operate any combination of vehicles he chooses. Those vehicles can have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 26,001 pounds if the GVWR of whatever he is towing is in excess of 10,000 pounds (4535.9 kg).
To be a Class A truck driver, a person must pass written exams. The person must also pass a skills test, often called the road exam. This test requires the driver to demonstrate a high degree of knowledge about procedures that must be undertaken before entering the vehicle and while on the road. He must demonstrate these skills with a Class A vehicle.
The first test normally taken is the general knowledge test. This covers basics that every commercial driver is required to know, including night driving, mountain driving, and accident procedures. The Class A driver has passed an air brakes test. This test covers the usage of air brakes, the parts of the air brake system, and proper inspection.
He also had to pass a combination vehicles test. This allows him to drive vehicles that are composed of multiple units, such as tractor and a trailer or a tractor with triple trailers. Passing this test means that the Class A driver should have good knowledge of driving combination vehicles, of combination air brake systems, and of coupling and uncoupling.
The Class A truck driver may also have extra endorsements. These are privileges granted as a result of passing optional tests. For example, the N endorsement allows the driver to haul a tank. Without this endorsement, he would be prohibited from doing so even if the standards for weight and units were met.