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The function 49 CFR 383 is to reduce or prevent truck and bus accidents the resulting injuries and deaths by requiring drivers of certain vehicles to obtain a single commercial motor vehicle driver's license and by disqualifying drivers who operate commercial motor vehicles in an unsafe manner.
With a few exceptions, drivers must have a CDL if they:
49 CFR §383.21: LICENSE REQUIREMENT
The driver of any commercial motor vehicle can only have one license issued by the state where he lives-a CDL (commercial driver's license).
49 CFR §383.31-§383.33: NOTIFICATION OF CONVICTIONS FOR DRIVER VIOLATIONS
If a driver is convicted of any motor vehicle violation besides a parking violation he must inform both his employer and the state that issued his CDL in writing within 30 days of the conviction. He must also inform his employer in writing of a suspended or revoked license before the end of the first business day post-conviction.
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49 CFR §383.35: NOTIFICATION OF PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT
During the application process for any employment involving the use of a CDL the potential driver is required to produce his employment history for the prior 10 years he operated a commercial vehicle.
49 CFR §383.71: LICENSING PROCEDURES
If a CDL is to be issued to an individual he must pass a knowledge and driving skills test in a motor vehicle comparable to the type of vehicle he will be driving. He must also certify that he has no suspensions, disqualifications, or licenses from other states.
49 CFR §383.91: VEHICLE GROUPS AND ENDORSEMENTS
The various types of commercial motor vehicles are divided into three groups: combination vehicles, heavy straight vehicles, and small vehicles. Combination vehicles have a combined weight of more than 26,000 pounds if the weight of the vehicle being towed is more than 10,000 pounds. Heavy straight vehicles include any single vehicle weighing more than 26,000 pounds or a vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds towing a vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds or less. Small vehicles are any single vehicle or combination of vehicles that do not fall into the other groups but are used to either transport a placarded amount of material or transport 16 or more passengers including the driver.
There are some endorsements that are required on a license. Each endorsement requires both a knowledge and behind-the-wheel test if, for example, a driver will be driving a vehicle equipped with air brakes.
49 CFR §383.110: REQUIRED KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
All drivers must be well-versed in the various procedures that ensure safe vehicle operation and be informed of the ill effects of being fatigued while driving, having poor vision, using alcohol and drugs, and improperly using the lights, horn, mirrors, and other emergency equipment. Drivers must have knowledge of all driver-related elements of the regulations contained in parts 391, 392, 393, 395, 396 and 397.
Drivers must also have a basic grasp of all factors involved in actually driving the vehicle-shifting, backing, space management, etc.-and are required to demonstrate both driving and inspection skills for whatever type of vehicle they intend to operate.
49 CFR §383.131: TEST PROCEDURES
All tests within the state must be standardized, and those administering the tests must first be trained to do so. States must have available manuals lending information including the procedures, requirements, and skills needed to obtain and CDL, and information on the actual test.
Click here to view the text of 49 CFR 383 in its entirety.
Next federal trucking law: 49 CFR 391: Qualifications of Drivers