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Articles > What is CDL team driving?
What is CDL team driving?

What is CDL team driving?

December 7, 2022

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Today, truckers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be male, female, young, old, and from any background. The days of trucking being a business primarily made up of middle-aged men are a thing of the past – trucking is now an industry enjoyed by all kinds of people. One thing that brings almost every truck operator and carrier in the United States together, though, is licensing.

If you wish to drive a truck in the USA, you need a commercial driver’s license (CDL). This allows you to operate larger and heavy vehicles such as buses, trucks, and trailers. It also allows for the transport of any vehicle that contains 15+ passengers and/or contains hazardous, dangerous materials in transit. Today, if you have a CDL, you are seen as someone who can be trusted to given a chance. What you also get, though, is the ability to operate as part of a team.

Today, CDL team driving is extremely common. Team driving operates on the premise that one of you takes the wheel while the other navigates. Think of it like manning an old ship – someone is navigating, the other is controlling. As the journey progresses, you swap roles and the other takes driving while the other navigates. On long straights and stretches of road where one driver can suffice, the other can rest and catch-up on their much-needed sleep.

To be a team driver, though, you need your CDL. Companies hire team drivers knowing that both can take over both roles. If you do not have a CDL you cannot legally drive a semi-truck. So, you would not be much use as part of a team!

Getting your CDL for team driving

First off, how do you go about landing your CDL? The path is actually quite simple. First off, you will need to get your Commercial Learners’ Permit – CLP – which is the first step towards learning how to control such commercial vehicles. To start learning, though, you need to be a minimum age.

The minimum age for your CDL is the USA is likely to be 18 to 21. In fact, the only state to demand you need to be 21 to get your CDL would be Hawaii – everywhere else, including the District of Columbia, is a minimum age of 18. However, to move hazardous materials or go interstate, you need to be 21 before you can get your CDL for this purpose.

You can get your CDL and stay in-state, but this obviously limits the kind of work that you could take on. Most CDL team driving will involve interstate trips, so that might not be as useful to you until you reach that age. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act means that 18-to-20 year-olds can undergo a supervision training program with a more experienced driver. If they succeed here, they can go interstate under the age of 21.

You also have three forms of CDL – Class C, B, and A. This will determine the maximum level of weight and size you are allowed to control. For example, Class B CDLs permit you to use a gross vehicle weight of 26,001lbs. A Class A, though, would allow you to take a combination of vehicles which weigh that amount, including towed units that exceed 10,000lbs.

It would also be wise to read into CDL codes – these focus on limits, endorsements, and restrictions of what you can and cannot do in certain parts of the USA. Most states have their own limits and restrictions, so you would do well to learn more about these before considering your eligibility for CDL team driving.

Applying for your CDL

To get a CDL, you need only go and apply at your nearest DMV office. You will need to evaluate the state and federal guidelines that exist for you to go through before you can get your CDL, though. Do not expect that you just walk in, fill in a form, and walk out able to drive commercial hardware. You will need to pass practical examinations, written knowledge exams, and more.

This is not a short-term process, but it can open up some fantastic employment opportunities for you now and into the future. If you are serious about getting your CDL, you should think about applying as soon as possible.

Is CDL team driving a career opportunity for you?

CDLs are needed to be part of a team, but team truck driving is an incredibly enjoyable experience. Most people who part in team driving get to enjoy working as part of a unit with others. They get to see themselves as part of a group, and they can build up some fantastic experience. If you want to know more about whether or not team driving is worth it for you, check out our guide to team driving here.

If you are someone who believes that they would enjoy driving a truck as part of a team, you need your CDL. Once you have that, you can apply to companies and take on part of a lesser experienced team member. Most of the time, this means working with a senior carrier who will give you advice, watch your movements, and make sure you are not making (too many) mistakes.

They expect you to grow and improve, and as you do get better so will your pay packet. To begin with, expect your pay split for the job to be significantly in favour of your mentor. Over time, though, you can work towards that 50/50 split. Who knows? Maybe one day you will be the experienced driver passing on the skills needed to the next generation!

Either way, CDL team driving is a gratifying and profitable way to make a living. Once you have that license, you can start applying for work in this sphere. Over time, it can be a great way to build confidence, grow your skills, and generally become more aware of the kind of career you want to build for yourself. CDL team driving is worth considering, then, but not just assume you will click your fingers and be driving as part of an experienced team – it takes time, but in our view that time is a worthwhile investment.

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