In New York, like every other state, drivers must obtain a commercial driver’s license to legally operate certain vehicles, including tractor-trailers and buses. Going through proper training and acquiring a license helps ensure safety for the driver and others on the road and decreases truck accidents.

What Is a Commercial Driver’s License, and Why Do You Need One?

A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is a special type of license required to operate large, heavy vehicles. Certain knowledge and skill is required to successfully drive large commercial vehicles, and the process of obtaining a CDL helps prepare drivers. 

There are multiple types of commercial driver’s licenses, depending on the type of vehicle the driver intends to operate. Depending on the kind of CDL a driver acquires, they’re limited to driving the types of vehicles allowed under that particular license. 

New York Commercial Driver’s Licenses

New York requires drivers to obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate large vehicles, including, but not limited to, trucks, buses, and stretch limos. The different types of CDLs offered in New York are as follows. 

Class A CDL

A class A commercial driver’s license is the least restrictive, allowing drivers to operate a wide variety of vehicles. With a class A driver’s license, a driver can operate vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 or more pounds as long as the trailer weighs over 10,000 pounds. 

A class A CDL allows for the operation of any of the following vehicles:

  • Tractor trailers
  • Flatbeds
  • Livestock carriers
  • Tank vehicles

Getting a class A commercial driver’s license also allows you to operate some of the class B and class C vehicles. In New York, drivers must be at least 21 to obtain a class A driver’s license. 

Class B CDL

A class B CDL authorizes you to drive a single vehicle with a GVWR in excess of 26,001 pounds or a trailer weight of 10,000 pounds or less. 

With a class B, drivers can operate:

  • Box trucks
  • Dump trucks with small trailers
  • Straight trailers
  • Passenger buses

With certain endorsements, a class B license allows drivers to operate some class C vehicles as well. In New York, drivers must be at least 18 to get a class B license.

Class C CDL

A class C CDL allows drivers to drive vehicles transporting 16 or more occupants. Additionally, class C drivers can operate commercial vehicles weighing less than 26,000 pounds and transport hazardous materials. 

New York also requires a class C license to operate stretch limos. Applicants of class C licenses must be at least 18.

License Endorsements

In addition to the different types of licenses, drivers can obtain endorsements. An endorsement gives special permission to operate certain kinds of vehicles or transport specific items. 

Endorsements include:

  • H: Hazardous materials
  • M: Metal coil vehicles
  • N: Tank vehicles
  • P: Passenger vehicles
  • S: School bus
  • W: Tow trucks
  • X: Hazardous materials in tank trucks

Every endorsement requires additional criteria, training, or testing. 

The Importance of Getting a Commercial Driver’s License

States don’t impose licensing requirements to make it more difficult for commercial drivers to work and earn a living. Instead, licensing requirements are intended to promote safety on the road and help minimize risk and the possibility of accidents and injury.

One of the most common causes of truck accidents is inadequate driving training or inexperience. By going through the proper channels to obtain a CDL, drivers must adhere to requirements, including taking courses and getting trained, before getting their license and hitting the road. While accidents aren’t entirely avoidable, licensing and training aim to help limit the frequency of serious trucking collisions.

Contact Our Truck Accident Law Firm in New York City

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Manhattan, NY, and need legal help, contact our New York City truck accident lawyers at Rosenbaum Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.

Rosenbaum Personal Injury Lawyers
100 Wall St 15th Floor
New York, NY 10005
(212) 514-5007