Last updated on October 3, 2022
Commercial motor vehicles are divided into 3 different classes according to their weight and size. Heavy vehicles require higher skill and knowledge to operate than do Class C vehicles. These vehicles have a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds and must be operated by a qualified driver.
For instance, a combination vehicle with a GVWR of 36,000 pounds is considered a Group A vehicle. Its GVWR includes the semitrailer and a trailer. The trailer has a GVWR of 6,000 pounds, and the combined weight of the two towed units is over 10,000 pounds.
Certain drivers of CMVs must have CDLs in order to operate the vehicles. These CMV drivers must undergo tests administered by the State to determine if they meet certain requirements. Some types of CMVs require a CDL, while others do not. If you are looking to get a CDL, read this article carefully.
Heavy vehicles can also be required to carry hazardous materials. Drivers of these vehicles must pass specialized tests before they are allowed to drive these vehicles.
The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act requires these vehicles to carry placards that state the materials they transport.
When a person applies for a CDL, that person must pass the knowledge and skills tests for the commercial motor vehicle groups they wish to be licensed to operate.
Commercial Motor Vehicle Groups
Group A – Combination Vehicle
Any combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.49CFR383.91(1)
Examples: tractor with trailer (combination vehicle), tractor with double/triple trailers
Group B – Heavy Straight Vehicle
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.49CFR383.91(2)
Group C – Small Vehicle
Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Group A or Group B as defined above, but that either is designated to transport 16 or more passengers including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.49CFR383.91(3)
Examples: passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUV’s, RV’s
When a CDL applicant takes the driving test, that person must take the driving test using a vehicle that is representative of the CMV that meets the definition of that vehicle group. For example, if a person is taking a driving test for a Class A CDL, that person must take the driving test using a vehicle defined in Group A.
Relationship Between Commercial Motor Vehicle Groups
CDL driver applicants who wish to operate a different commercial motor vehicle than the one they are currently licensed to operate must take and pass all related tests required for that commercial motor vehicle group. The exceptions to this regulation are as follows:
Holders of a Group A license may, with any appropriate endorsements, operate all vehicles within Groups B and C.49CFR383.91(c)(1)
Holders of a Group B license may, with any appropriate endorsements, operate all vehicles within Group C.49CFR383.91(c)(2)