For professional truck drivers, their commercial driver’s license or CDL is their most prized possession. Their careers and livelihood depend heavily on it. If you want to keep going on the open road, protect your CDL at all costs. Never give the authorities any reason to revoke it. That means taking good care of your vehicle and being mindful of your behavior on the road.
If you want to stay in the trucking business, here are some tips to help you safeguard your CDL. When you follow these, you can preserve your right to drive and continue growing your trucking career.
Don’t Accumulate Points on Your CDL
The best way to protect your CDL is to keep your points to a minimum. Avoid committing violations because each one assigns points to your CDL. Once you hit a certain amount, the authorities will suspend your license, and you can’t drive your truck for a while.
The maximum points you can accumulate before license suspension differs per state. But typically, accumulating 15 points within three years is grounds for CDL suspension. You can’t get on the road for up to 120 days. Or worse, you lose your job.
It’s best to familiarize yourself with the violations that can lead to a CDL suspension. Here are the most common offenses to avoid:
- Expired documents
- Exceeding weight, height, or length limit
- Logbook omissions and errors
- Speeding or parking tickets
- Defective lights
- Equipment failure
If you don’t think you violated any laws and don’t deserve your tickets, you can try contesting them. It can be worth paying the legal fees if it means avoiding additional points and getting to keep your CDL.
Don’t Drive a Faulty Truck
Driving around in a faulty truck is one of the fastest ways to lose your CDL. Authorities will see you as a massive threat to other motorists and won’t hesitate to revoke your license. The same applies if your truck doesn’t fit within the maximum height, length, and weight limits.
Some companies force truck drivers to use faulty vehicles or ones that don’t fit the prescribed dimensions. That’s where your judgment comes in. You can either agree and risk your CDL or refuse and make your employer angry. The latter might be the better decision in the long run. At least you’re safe, your CDL is intact, and you can find a new job. It shouldn’t take too long because truck drivers are in high demand.
Perform Circle Checks and Get Regular Maintenance
Always conduct a circle check on your truck before you start any journey. A circle check is an audible and visual inspection that truck drivers use to spot issues. If they find any, they must report it to their company and refrain from using the vehicle until the problem’s solved. That way, they can stay safe and protect their CDL. However, it’s not enough to depend solely on circle checks. Some issues aren’t obvious and need a mechanic’s expertise.
Aside from circle checks, truck drivers must bring their vehicles in for regular maintenance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) requires a yearly maintenance inspection for all commercial trucks. Be sure to follow the prescribed schedule to reduce risk on the road.
The Bottom Line
The best way to protect your CDL is to be a mindful and responsible truck driver. Follow commercial driving regulations and keep your vehicle in good shape. In addition, fight for your rights if you know you did nothing wrong.
As always, here at FCC, we strive to be your number one choice in trucking! Consider driving for FCC today!