What Are CDL Restrictions?

If you want to drive a commercial vehicle, the first step is earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL). In addition to the standard license, there are endorsements you can add that increase the types of vehicles you can operate. There are also CDL restrictions that limit what you can drive or the conditions you can drive in. Understanding what these restrictions are is important to ensure you have the most opportunities available to you after graduating trucking school.

Some CDL restrictions to know:

K Restriction

In order to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) across state lines, you will need to be 21 years of age or older. This is part of federal CDL requirements, so it doesn’t matter what state you earn your license in. However, it is still possible to drive a CMV within your state of residence, as long as you are 18 or older. If you earn your license while under 21, you will have a K restriction, which indicates that your CDL is only valid for intrastate use.

E Restriction

Most passenger vehicles use automatic transmissions, but this is not the case for semi-trucks. Although there are some newer automatic vehicles, most use manual transmissions. Knowing how to switch gears correctly is an important part of safely driving a semi-truck, so you will need to demonstrate this during your CDL test if you plan to drive a manual vehicle. If you take the skills test with an automatic truck, you will have an E restriction on your license. This can severely limit your ability to find a trucking job.

O Restriction

If you take your CDL skills test in a truck with a non-fifth wheel connection or pintle hook, you will have the O restriction placed on your license. This means you cannot operate a tractor-trailer.

Air Brake CDL Restrictions

Traditional hydraulic braking systems use fluid to stop a vehicle, whereas air brakes use compressed air. Air brakes are more effective for stopping larger vehicles, so they are common for semi-trucks and other types of CMVs.

There are not one, but two air brake restrictions. Having either one on your CDL can limit the jobs you can pursue with your license.

The air brake restrictions are:

L Restriction

The L restriction will prohibit you from operating any vehicle with air brakes, whether this is a full or partial system. You will have this restriction if you fail either the written air brakes test or the air brake inspection portion of the CDL skills test. Additionally, you will have an L restriction if you take your skills test with a vehicle that does not use air brakes.

Z Restriction

This restriction prevents you from operating a vehicle with a full air brake system. You will still be able to operate a vehicle with a partial system. If you take the skills test with a vehicle that only has a partial system, the Z restriction will be placed on your license.

Earn Your CDL in Phoenix, AZ

At Phoenix Truck Driving Institute, our skilled instructors will help you prepare for the CDL test. Our programs cover material that helps you avoid CDL restrictions, increasing the number of jobs you can apply for after graduation. We also have a job placement assistance team to get you on the road and earning as soon as possible.

To learn more about our CDL training program, contact us today.

Tips for Rookie Truck Drivers

After earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you’ll be ready to hit the road for your first truck driving job. You’ll continue to learn and grow throughout your career and the first year after graduation is an opportunity to build a strong foundation. Rookie truck drivers who start good habits when they are first on the road set themselves up for success.

Some tips for new drivers:

1. Make Safety a Priority

Safety should always be your top priority on the road and it’s important to keep this in mind from the start of your career. Driving a semi-truck is a big responsibility and you need to make sure you are not putting yourself or others on the road at risk.

More so than focusing on the number of miles, make it a goal to stay accident-free for your first year. Trying to fit in more miles may seem like a good idea, but you should never sacrifice safety. A clean driving record and a solid reputation will increase your earning potential more in the long term.

Safety tips:

  • Slow down if you need to. A tractor-trailer takes a long time to stop and the faster you are going, the more dangerous this can be. Keep in mind that the posted speed limit may be too fast depending on the conditions.
  • Get enough rest. Fatigued driving is comparable to drunk driving in terms of risk. Always follow hours of service (HOS) rules and set a consistent sleep routine to make it easier to get the rest you need.
  • Get out and look (GOAL) when backing. You may not be able to see everything from inside your cab.
  • Drive defensively. Stay alert and adjust to changing conditions.

2. Practice Good Communication

Communication is a key skill for truckers to possess. This can be surprising at first since many people consider trucking a solitary job. While it is true that you’ll spend a lot of time alone behind the wheel, you will also need to communicate with your dispatcher as well as customers during pick-ups and drop-offs. Be polite, stay positive, and keep everyone up to date if there are any issues on the road.

3. Build Healthy Habits

There are many benefits to the trucking lifestyle, such as seeing more of the country and the potential to earn high pay. However, there are also unique challenges, and your first year as a rookie truck driver is a great time to create habits that help you address those challenges.

It’s easier to eat healthy on the road if you are used to this from the beginning. Try meal planning and choose healthier options when you eat at restaurants or truck stops. You may even be able to cook in your truck with small appliances like a slow cooker or hot plate.

An exercise routine is also important for your health. There are many exercises you can do in a truck and you can also run or walk around truck stops. Find what works best for you and stick with it.

4. Have A Positive Mindset

Trucking is a career that rewards those who work hard and keep improving. If you come into it with a positive mindset and a drive to succeed, it can make your first year and every year after that a lot easier. When challenges arise, think about what you can learn from them instead of focusing on the negative aspects. Keep in mind that the more time you spend the road, the more you’ll learn and the easier it will be.

Start Your Trucking Career With High-Quality Training

If you are interested in becoming a truck driver, Phoenix Truck Driving Institute can help. You can earn your commercial driver’s license (CDL) in as little as four weeks and we offer job placement assistance.

To learn more about our CDL training program, contact us today.