Drivers may add additional endorsements to their CDL to be able to operate more than one class of vehicles such as adding a designation to allow them to be able to transport hazardous materials. CDL holders can take written exams to qualify for some endorsements. Other types of endorsements require drivers to take specific skills test. The truck driver training you receive will be crucial in giving you the knowledge and helping you with the skills you need to pass these exams.
Endorsements and Restrictions
Although, this is a knowledge test, drivers should have knowledge of the proper placement of the heaviest trailer as well as how to assemble and hook up the units. Drivers should also be aware of the handling and stability characteristics (such as braking, rollover in steady turns and off (tracking.) Also, how to handle possible problems in traffic operations (like splash or spray impacts and view blockages.
P: Passenger (Knowledge and Skills)
To obtain a (P) endorsement drivers must have knowledge of the following:
1. Loading and unloading passengers
2. Proper braking procedures
3. Proper procedures at railroad crossing and drawbridges
4. Proper use of emergency exits including push out windows
5. Knowing how to respond to emergency situations such as fires, accidents, unrully passengers, etc.
To obtain a passenger endorsement applicable to a specific vehicle group, an applicant must past a skills test in a passenger vehicle satisfying the requirements of that specific vehicle group.
N: Tank Vehicles (Knowledge Test only)
Although, this is a knowledge test, drivers must possess knowledge in the proper braking methods, proper use of emergency systems, as well as the differences in tank vehicle type and construction.
H: Hazardous Materials (Knowledge Test and TSA Threat Assessment)
The Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HazMat) is possibly the most complex of all. Before an “H” or “X” endorsement will be added to your CDL, you must complete the HazMat written test and receive approval by TSA. This involves successfully completing the TSA assessment process which includes a fingerprint and criminal background check. TSA approval must be obtained prior to issuance of a CDL with a HazMat endorsement. New drivers may be issued a temporary CDL without a HazMat endorsement, pending the background checks.
Each time you renew a HazMat endorsement, you must pass the HazMat written test. You are required to complete the background check at least every five years.
X: Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials
This endorsement requires knowledge of both the Tank Vehicle requirements and the Hazardous materials requirements.
S: School Bus (Knowledge and Skills Test)
This endorsement requires a certificate issued by a physican and an optometrist or ophthalmologist of proof of a satisfactory physical and vision examination. The test will also include knowledge of danger zones, use of mirrors, loading and unloading, railroad-highway crossings, emergency exit, student management, antilock braking systems and other special safety considerations.
If a driver either fails the air brake component of the general knowledge test or performs the skills test in a vehicle not equipped with air brakes, the driver is issued an air brake restriction, restricting the driver from operating a CMV equipped with air brakes.
Federal policy requires states to issue CDL Licenses according to license classifications. The Class designations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are as follows:
Class A – Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of
the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Class B – Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a
vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
Class C – Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.