Okay so you went out and did what you wanted to do over the last few decades, you pledged your house, your kids, your cat and your neighbors and bought the Recreational Vehicle (RV) that you looked at the local dealer.
Not your average vehicle
What type of vehicle did you buy? Chances are good it's not your average RV. If you have waited and accumulated savings for the vehicle, it is likely that it will be one of the monsters built on a bus chassis and is actually a bus in anything but name. Believe it or not, as it is considered an RV, it is exempt from special license terms, whether or not you drive this type of rig. So there is no federal requirement and at state level it seems like a patchwork of some states that do not require anything but a standard license and still others that require one or two special inscriptions for your shiny bus / RV.
It is at least what you will find under the shiny RV exterior and the lovely and very home interior with its driveway, living room, dining room and dining area – a very large bus chassis. Running a vehicle so large seems to require special training sessions, but it is not a requirement.
Here it is a little messy. The Federal Motor Carrier Bureau, the people who oversee the Commercial Driver License (CDL) program, has some very specific guidelines for when you need to acquire a CDL to run a large vehicle.
According to the federal program, if a vehicle Gross Vehicle Weight Ratio (GVWR) on the rear axle is more than 26,000 pounds, then it is an automatic. You need to get a CDL to run your RV. This would be especially true if you are running a 38-foot or longer converted bus chassis. The same applies if you use a fifth wheel RV – a fifth wheel is the long trailer that has an overhang and requires a special pickup bed mounted trailer. If your truck can take pounding – you will probably need at least three quarts or larger pickups, probably with a tandem rear axle – and the five-wheeler meets the 26,000 pound requirements, then a CDL is required.
It's true that you can play with the characters so the GVWR on the rear axle is less than 26,000 pounds, but here's where the states get you. There are special requirements that you do not need to obtain a CDL to be able to use your RV or five wheel, but you still have to meet.
The states go into law
Here is a list of some of the requirements that you have to face in some states to run your RV or five wheel:
- California: If the vehicle is longer than 40 meters but less than 45 meters, you need a Class B state approval for your license
- Wisconsin: A CDL is required if your RV is longer than 45 feet
- Texas: A special approval is required if your five-wheel trailer GVWR is £ 10,000
- South Carolina: Requires a Class E or F license approval if the vehicle is more than 26,000 pounds GVWR
- New York: A special R approval is required for your license.
- Nevada: A special J license approval is required if you vehicle less than 10,000 pounds GVWR on the rear axle
- New Mexico: A special class E approval is required.
- Maryland: A special class A or B inscription is required.
- Kansas: Requires a special class A or B approval for your license
- Illinois: A special A, B or C approval is required for vehicles over 10,000 pounds GVWR
- Hawaii: A special Class 4 approval is required to drive a vehicle over £ 15,000
- Florida: A special class E approval is required.
- Connecticut: A special Class 2 approval is required for vehicles over 10,000 pounds GVWR
From this list, it is evident that CDL is not required by most states for R-V or fifth wheel below the 26,000-pound rule, but states themselves have introduced their own limits and requirements. The reason, quite frankly, motorized safety authorities claims that driving ability varies across the map.
CDL is the federal government's attempt to create uniform security standards for large rigs across the country. For example, if you regularly run double bottoms (tandem cars), you need to take a special test for it. And there are other requirements for drivers who regularly carry hazmat materials.
But even if CDL is available, it still does not cover drivers with different abilities. For example, there are drivers on the road that hardly can maneuver a tractor with a tractor that now has to handle double bottom and there are five-wheeled RV drivers that can hardly handle the standard yard. Standardized tests like CDL – it consists of two parts, written and running – try to get any order out of this chance, but it is almost impossible to follow millions of trailers and large rig drivers.
States have, in an effort to promote security, introduced their own requirements for professional drivers, but states like Rhode Island have exempted RVL drivers from CDL or special approval requirements. All you need is a standard class D license and you are on your way.
So the short answer suggested for this story is that the requirements for R Vs and five-wheeled trailers vary across the country for non-professional drivers, while professionals are required to obtain government-funded CDL (Certified Drivers License).
Here is a proposal that few will like but that will improve road safety across the country. Make the CDL standard if you are a pro or an RV driver. At least, the playing field will be smooth in the beginning and, who knows, the RV driver can learn one thing or two about safety vehicle handling, loading, braking and driving.