Class A versus Class B CDL: What’s the Difference?
Class A Versus Class B CDL: What’s the Difference?
When choosing which CDL to pursue it can be helpful to know the difference in training, knowledge and vehicle specifications required for each class of CDL. This often begins with deciding the kind of vehicle you wish to drive, which is an important decision that may determine which commercial driver’s license (CDL) you may want to train for.
There are three kinds of CDL:
- Class A
- Class B
- Class C
A class A license is considered the “universal” CDL, providing the opportunities for driving several different types of commercial trucks and tractor trailers. A class B license also allows operation of different types vehicles such as straight trucks and dump trucks, but it is more limiting than a class A CDL. The differences between the types of CDLs relates to the types of vehicles and the weight of the vehicles, particularly the load that the vehicles will be towing.
What is a Class A CDL?
A class A CDL is required for operation of a combination of vehicles (such as a tractor connected to a trailer) with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and a towing capacity of more than 10,000 pounds. This is the more inclusive CDL, allowing for the operation of what most people refer to as big-rigs or 18-wheelers. A class A CDL with the correct endorsements should allow for the operation of most commercial motor vehicles, including class B and class C vehicles.
What Is the Training for a Class A CDL?
Training for a class A CDL can vary depending on which program you pursue, and may include hands-on and behind-the-wheel training, vehicle maintenance, federal and state regulations training, and other components that can teach students to safely drive and operate a class A vehicle. The class A CDL can be a choice for a driver interested in driving different types of commercial motor vehicles.
New England Tractor Trailer Training School (NETTTS) offers several different class A CDL training options, for drivers of all experience levels.
What Is a Class B CDL?
A class B CDL is required for the operation of a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and a towing capacity of no more than 10,000 pounds. Class B vehicles do not typically have a trailer. With the correct endorsements, a Class B CDL allows for the operation of vehicles including straight trucks, buses, garbage trucks, dump trucks, delivery trucks, and cement mixers.
The correct endorsements with a Class B CDL can also be used to drive Class C vehicles. A class C CDL can be used for operating small hazmat vehicles, passenger vans of 16 people or combination vehicles not described in class A or B, for example a small truck towing a trailer.
What Is the Training for a Class B CDL?
Training for a class B CDL is typically also a combination of classroom and behind-the-wheel training. Courses will vary depending on program, but may include general knowledge, training requirements, vehicle maneuvering, writing trip reports, exam preparation, and practice driving on the range and over-the-road. Additional course work and training could consist of vehicle inspections, railroad crossings, transporting cargo, and general CDL and vehicle knowledge.
NETTTS offers the Class B Commercial Heavy Straight Truck Training (CDLB 80) license program, which is 80 hours of classroom and behind-the-wheel courses.
What Are CDL Endorsements?
Endorsements are available for each type of CDL license and are required for drivers to operate certain vehicles, or transport certain types of cargo. Drivers must pass endorsement tests to drive these specific types of commercial vehicles: double or triple tractor trailers, school buses, passenger vehicles carrying 16 people or more, hazmat, and tankers. Endorsements can offer more opportunities for CDL drivers to haul a larger variety of goods in different types of vehicles.
Making the Best Choice of CDL
Thinking about which class of CDL can be a first step for aspiring truck drivers. From there they can decide how to put together a path and reach their goals.
NETTTS is here to help you understand your options and can help you figure out your next steps. Contact NETTTS to learn about the various programs for class A and class B training.
Mike Demars is a 28-year trucking veteran, as well as a graduate of New England Tractor Trailer Training School with well over a million miles logged on the road. Prior to being the Regional Director of Safety & Training for our Connecticut locations, Mike spent over a decade on the road as an owner/operator of a long haul transportation company and previously managed drivers as a Driver Manager and Safety Director. He has achieved the level of Master Instructor and holds his certificate in Collision Avoidance, and is often sought as an industry expert to discuss practices within the field and to testify in transportation and trucking matters.