All About Fleet Vehicle Classifications
Commercial vehicles may all look the same to those who don’t normally drive them, but to those who work in the fleet/trucking industry, we know that they are all very different. How? Because of gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This is the maximum loaded weight of the truck – which includes the weight of the vehicle itself, cargo/passengers, fuel, and trailer (if applicable). GVWR is broken down into eight classes (1-8), with 1-3 being light duty, 4-6 being medium duty, and 6-8 being heavy duty.
Light-duty trucks and vehicles weigh anywhere from 0 to 6,000 lbs total. These are your typical pick-up trucks, cargo vans, and SUVs. They tend to not only be used for light commercial purposes but personal use as well, and are appropriate for hauling small to moderate sized items and equipment. You don’t need a CDL to operate these vehicles. These are typically non-commercial vehicles and the regulations/laws surrounding these types of vehicles aren’t as rigid as heavier-duty vehicles.
Medium-duty vehicles include bigger full-size trucks and the weight range is anywhere from 10,000 to 26,000 lbs. This is the most versatile class as this includes vehicles like basic box trucks for deliveries and moving, small dump trucks, small buses, and more.
Class 4 vehicles range from 14-16,000 lbs. Some examples of vehicles in this class are Ford 450 super-duty trucks, city delivery trucks, and some box trucks.
Class 5 contains 16-19,000 lb vehicles like larger delivery and box trucks.
When you get up to a Class 6 (19,500-26,00 lbs), this is the point in classification where you’ll find vehicles such as school buses and single-axle trucks, and also – where a CDL may be required. Additionally, if your vehicle is over 10,000 lbs, you are required to have a DOT number and stop at weigh stations.
Lastly, heavy-duty vehicles is where you’ll find big rigs and semi-trucks.
Class 7 is 26,000 to 33,000 lbs (think of street sweeper trucks, larger garbage trucks, bigger city buses, and big furniture/delivery haulers).
Class 8 is anything over 33,000 lbs (Peterbilts, Freightliners, and Kenworths are popular models in this category).
You will definitely need a CDL A, B, or C license to operate these fleet vehicles. Check with your state’s CDL requirements to see what you’ll need. In addition, if you drive a vehicle over Class 8, you may not be able to navigate certain interstate highways due to size – which may require you to carry a “oversized load” designation and travel specifically designated routes. There are a lot more regulations and rules you may have to follow under this classification as well.
Truck classifications are essential to the transportation industry. Fleet owners and drivers alike should be aware of what classes their vehicles fall under, their limitations, and the rules and regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Department of Transportation (DOT), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – so that they can operate their vehicles safely and legally.
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