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Tips to safely drive your RV, 5th Wheel, Travel Trailer, Mobile Clinic

The Non-Commercial Class B License Experience

tip non commercial 2016So you’ve purchased the 43 foot motor home of your dreams and now you find out you are required to get a new driver’s license, something called a non-commercial Class B license. To confuse things even more, here in California we call it a Housecar license. What to do? Call RV Basic Training LLC!

In California if your motor home is over 40 feet, you must have a Housecar license. The caveat being that your vehicle is used strictly for recreational and other non-commercial functions. In other States the threshold is the weight of the vehicle, which is any vehicle, or combination of vehicles over 26,000 lbs.

Commercial Driver's Licenses are administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)

FMCSA defines minimum requirements that all states must meet when issuing CDL's States are free to define more stringent CDL rules FMCSA regulations only address commercial motor vehicles (CMV) RV's used strictly for recreational and other non-commercial functions do not meet the FMCSA definition of a CMV

FMCSA defines several CDL classes based on vehicle weight, type, and cargo. While most states do not require a CDL for driving large RV's, some do require special non-commercial licenses structured after the federal classification. The two classes applicable to RV's are A & B, which are defined below:

  • Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.

To find out the requirements in your State for either a motor home or combination truck and trailer. There are a number of commonalities all States share:

  1. You will be required to write a knowledge test
  2. You will be required to demonstrate competency of the four basic driving skills
  3. If Air Brake equipped, you may be required to do an In-Cab Air Check, (COLA check)
  4. You will be required to do a pre-trip inspection
  5. You will be required to do the basic control skills test
  6. You will be required to do a drive test

A failure on the pre-trip or basic control skills will result in you having to repeat the process on another day. You will not get out of the testing lot. Drive Test The major difference between a full Class A or B license and the non-commercial Class A or B is the pre-trip. For a full Class A or B, the pre-trip is VERY detailed and as many as 30% of new commercial drivers don’t even leave the test lot.

Once the pre-trip and basic driving skills are completed, it is out on the road to show the examiner that you know how to make right turns, left turns, and lane changes. You will also drive on the freeway and in urban traffic.