Do You Need A CDL To Drive A 24 ft Box Truck?

Not sure if you need a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) to drive a 24 ft. box truck?

If your answer is yes, then read. In this section, you will find out whether you need this special driving license to drive a box truck.

The answer to whether you need a CDL to drive a box truck depends on the GVWR of the box truck you want to drive.

Generally, a CDL is needed if you want to drive a flatbed truck or a tractor-trailer. In contrast, because box trucks exist in so many sizes, you may need or not need a CDL based on the GVWR of the box truck you want to drive.

What is GVWR? This is an abbreviation of the term Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. Essentially, what GVWR indicates is the maximum operating weight of the vehicle.

In other words, the empty weight of a vehicle plus the maximum payload it can safely carry. The bigger the GVWR of a truck, the harder it is to drive and hence the need for a special driving license, CDL, to drive it.

In many jurisdictions, you do not need a CDL to drive a box truck with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less.

So if your 24 ft. box truck has a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or less, you can drive it in many jurisdictions without a CDL. Do you know your truck’s GVWR? If you do, good for you. If you do not, check with the manufacturer of the vehicle.

Read on below to discover more about driving box trucks and the need for a CDL in the United States.

Box truck defined

To fully understand the driving requirements for box truck drivers, it is important to understand what a box truck is.

A box truck is a truck that has a stretched frame/chassis on which a cargo box is bolted. The cargo box is the reason why box trucks are called box trucks.

The box is distinct from the driver’s cab hence cannot be accessed through the cab. Most box trucks have a roll-up door opening to their cargo boxes.

Most people have seen and know what semi-trailers look like. Box trucks are not semi-trailers. Because semi-trailers are two pieces of equipment joined together. Semi-trailers are also generally much bigger in size than box trucks.

Because semi-trailers are big and heavy vehicles, they are harder to drive than most box trucks. Therefore, drivers typically need a special license to drive them.

In contrast, most box trucks are light in weight compared to semi-trailers. Some are so light that you are not required by law to have a license to drive them.

Do You Need A CDL To Drive A 24 ft Box Truck?
Mr.choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Who is allowed by law to drive a box truck?

Box trucks are available in multiple sizes. Some are so heavy that you need a special license to drive them, while others are light enough not to need a special driving license. So by law, any competent driver can drive a box truck if it is light enough.

If it is heavy, one will require a special license (a CDL) to drive a box truck. How heavy does a box truck need to be to require a driving license? Well, any box truck with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds requires a CDL.

Most box trucks are used as service trucks, delivery trucks, moving trucks, and rental trucks. Without them, tons of businesses would not exist as we know them today.

While regular box trucks are small and do not require advanced driving skills to be driven safely, long and big ones typically require advanced driving skills to be driven safely. This is the reason why companies hiring box truck drivers usually insist that they must have a CDL or an equivalent license.

How to know the GVWR of a box truck

To know if you must have a CDL to drive a 24 ft. box truck, you should find out its GVWR (Gross Weight Vehicle Rating).

As mentioned earlier, GVWR refers to the empty weight plus the maximum payload of a vehicle. To find out the GVWR of your truck, you simply have to check the sticker on its door jamb.

The sticker will most likely have two GARW (Gross Axle Weight Rating) figures for the front and the rear axles. By adding these two figures, you will get the GVWR of your box truck.

Alternatively, you could simply search online for the GVWR of your box truck and you will probably find the answer in seconds.

What to know before taking a box truck to the highway

Even if your box truck is not heavy enough to require a special license, there are several things you need to know before driving your box truck.

First, you need to know that box trucks are not pickup trucks. They are longer and heavier. Therefore, you need to maneuver them more cautiously and to watch out especially on the road or when negotiating tight corners.

Second, you need to check your side mirrors before you start your engine. This is because box trucks do not have a rearview mirror or window that you can use to look at the back.

Most of them also do not have a rearview camera. Therefore, to know what’s coming from the back you will have to use your side mirrors extensively, so make sure you set them right.

Lastly, when driving your box truck for the first time, you should avoid speeding as the truck can become difficult for you to bring to a stop in case of an emergency.