CDL stands for commercial driver’s license. Commercial vehicles are a significant responsibility, and licensed commercial drivers have to demonstrate special skills and knowledge. There are many misconceptions associated with CDL licenses, and here, we’ll tackle the six most common.
1. It Is a Big Investment
The most common misconception is that it costs a lot of money to get your CDL and begin trucking, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It can cost a lot if you want your own rig, but most commercial drivers do not start out that way. General licensing fees are not much more expensive than other license types. Some training is required, but this can be financed and is a lot less expensive than people tend to think.
2. It Is Hard to Get Full-Time Employment
This myth persists because it was once very true. A couple of decades ago, trucking was way more competitive, and newcomers had to pay their dues with part-time work and unfavorable jobs. This is no longer the case, and many employers will pay for your CDL training.
3. The Income Isn’t Worth the Trouble
First-year salaries average about $45,000 a year. That is even true among 18-year-olds who are confined to the state in which they were licensed. Not bad for someone so young. The high end of average salaries is about $65,000, and that is for drivers who do not own their own rigs. For non-rig-owners, the best salaries are generally held by tandems who are able to share the workload.
4. CDL Violations Can Be Plead Down
This used to be the case, but federal law was changed so that non-moving DOT violations cannot be pled down. They must either stand or be dismissed. CDL drivers generally do not have the option to go to traffic school either.
5. 21 Is the Minimum Age
Many people think the age requirement is 21, but you can get your CDL at 18. The caveat is that you are limited to driving within the state or states in which you are licensed. Age 21 is when you can cross state lines into states that have not specifically licensed you.
6. CDL A Covers Everything
Many people think the A means that highest level of license and thus covers everything. A covers 18-wheelers and the like as well as construction trucks, such as dump trucks. It does not, however, cover buses, and you must maintain a second license if you want to drive both.
Another misconception is that all vehicles covered by a CDL use air brakes. While this was once the case, it no longer is. A school bus is a common example of an exception.