Curious about whether you need a CDL to drive a box truck? The answer is no, for the most part. However, the longer answer is a bit more complex and varies depending on the size and Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck you are driving. A commercial driver’s license (CDL) is required for a number of different vehicles, including tractor trailers, flatbed trucks, and more. However, the CDL requirements for a box truck are actually based on the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), which can change from truck to truck. Box trucks that have a GVWR of less than 26,000 pounds do not require a CDL holder to drive them. Of course, it’s critical to check what your box truck’s GVWR is before you drive it to make sure you are in compliance with your state’s laws.
Read on to learn more about box trucks, who can drive them, and how they’re used in the commercial driving industry.
What Is a Box Truck?
Before we dive too deep into the CDL requirements of box truck drivers and some of the technical jargon in the commercial driving industry, let’s first define and examine box trucks so we know we are all on the same page.
A box truck is a category of truck defined by a few key characteristics:
- Box trucks have a stretched frame with a cargo box bolted to the chassis.
- The cargo box is totally separate from the cab and can’t be accessed from the cab area.
- Most box trucks have a rear roll-up door.
Unlike semi-trailers, box trucks are one solid piece of equipment. Semis are larger trucks with far more wheels to carry larger loads of cargo. They also have cabs that are totally separate from the trailers that they carry so that new cargo loads can simply attach and detach at shipment points.
Box trucks and semis usually serve completely different purposes and have totally different licensing requirements.
Who Can Drive a Box Truck?
As previously mentioned, box trucks are defined by a few characteristics, but that doesn’t mean they can necessarily be regarded as just one thing. Box trucks come in all shapes and sizes and the answer to who can drive them actually depends on their specific GVWR.
Most box trucks are under the threshold of needing an auxiliary license to drive them. So when you think of the typical box truck, you probably think of things like:
- Moving trucks
- Delivery trucks
- Service trucks
- Rental business trucks
Tons of businesses use box trucks because they drive very similarly to large vehicles that people are used to and can be used without much training or practice.
However, in reality, box trucks take some skill to drive and accidents happen all the time when inexperienced drivers move their furniture or belongings in large trucks they can’t handle or control on the road.
So the question should really be, “Who should drive a box truck?”. The answer is someone with sufficient expertise who understands the truck’s capabilities, braking power, and shortcomings should something go wrong.
Do You Need a CDL to Drive a Box Truck?
For the most part, you do not need a CDL to drive a box truck. The typical rental box truck driver wouldn’t even consider this question in the first place. You may have seen moving trucks up and down streets carrying peoples’ furniture. If you can walk into a rental shop and pick out that truck, you definitely do not need a CDL to drive it.
The parameters for whether or not you need a CDL to drive a box truck are actually quite simple. If the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is above 26,000 pounds, you need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate it.
One very important thing to note is that GVWR does not actually refer to how much the truck currently weighs. It wouldn’t make sense to have the licensing requirement differ based on the weight of the contents in the truck. In fact, the GVWR actually refers to how much weight the vehicle is rated to carry, which is just another way of saying how large the truck is.
To find the GVWR, you simply have to look inside the door jam of the truck. The inside sticker lists the Gross Axle Weight Rating (GARW) for both the front and rear axles. Add those two numbers together and that equals your GVWR.
What You Need to Know Before Driving a Box Truck
Before you get behind the wheel of a box truck (even if you don’t need a CDL), it’s important to follow basic safety precautions.
These vehicles operate nothing like a sedan or even a pickup truck and need to be treated with a bit more caution and respect than smaller vehicles on the road.
Remember to inspect your mirrors before you get going. Because you won’t be able to look out the rear window, your mirrors are one of the most critical tools in the truck. Make wide turns and signal early so you can let cars behind you, and especially bicycles and small vehicles, know your intentions far ahead of time.
Finally, if it’s your first time driving a box truck, do not attempt tricky maneuvers like parallel parking unless you have a trusted spotter who can guide you along the way.
Get Your Box Truck CDL at Truck Driver Institute.
Although most box trucks don’t require a CDL to operate, the larger ones do. So, what do you do next? To get your commercial driver’s license, there’s no better place than Truck Driver Institute. For nearly 50 years TDI has provided high-quality driver training from expert instructors.
- Metro busses
- School busses
- Tour busses
- Passenger vans
- Delivery trucks
- Dump trucks
- Cement mixers
- Box trucks
- Straight trucks
- Tilt beds
- …and more!
With a Class A CDL, you can drive even larger vehicles such as semis and other long-haul and industrial equipment.
Truck Driver Institute has 11 locations across the country and there is a national shortage of qualified drivers in nearly every commercial driving field. Sign up for Truck Driver Institute today and get rolling!