Unlocking the Road: Do You Need a CDL for a Box Truck?

On the roadways, box trucks are a frequent sight. Because box trucks, also known as “straight trucks” or “cube trucks,” typically do not require a commercial driver’s license (or CDL) to operate, businesses may prefer using them to deliver freight. 

Even if using a box truck to move merchandise could be more affordable, it’s crucial to remember that these vehicles must be driven carefully to prevent mishaps and other hazardous circumstances.

Over 500,000 big trucks and buses were involved in collisions in 2019, according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Box trucks were involved in little over 4,000 of those incidents.

Even though they make up fewer than 1% of all truck accidents annually, box truck collisions can result in human severe injuries or even fatalities. For this reason, drivers must be aware of the rules and legislation pertaining to operating box trucks and the safest driving techniques.

Commercial Driver’s License: What Is It?

Commercial truck driving involves ability, skill, and training. To guarantee that truckers adhere to specific safety requirements, the Department of Motor Vehicles (D.M.V.) mandates that commercial truck drivers obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). States may grant CDLs to drivers based on the following licensing classifications according to federal standards:

Category A: “Any combination of vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds), whichever is greater, inclusive of a towed unit(s) with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 11,794 kilograms (26,001 pounds or more) whichever is greater.”

Class B: “Any vehicle towing another vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight not exceeding 4,536 kilograms (10,000 pounds) or any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 11,794 or more kilograms (26,001 pounds or more).”

Class C: “Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B but is either intended to transport sixteen or more passengers. It, includes the driver, or is transporting any quantity of a material listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 C.F.R. Part 73, or that has been designated as hazardous under 49 U.S.C. 5103 and is required to be placarded under subpart F of 49 C.F.R. Part 172.”

Describe a box truck.

A box truck is a business vehicle with only one frame connecting each axle. These trucks come in different lengths and are unique because the cargo is conveyed onto a separate vessel resembling a box. Box trucks can carry up to 8,000 pounds and usually are 22, 24, or 26 feet long.

What Size Truck Can You Operate Without a CDL?

The maximum weight that non-CDL truck drivers are permitted to drive is 26,000 pounds. Thus, the heaviest truck you can go without a CDL must weigh less than that amount. 

Furthermore, a truck driver without a CDL may tow a single-axle trailer with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 10,000 pounds. Here is more information about CDL exemptions and FMCSA regulations.

Understanding When a Truck Requires a CDL for Operation

You must first earn a CDL if you plan to operate any of the following vehicles:

any single car that weighs at least 26,001 pounds (GVWR).

Any one vehicle used to transport more than ten persons (including the driver) and having a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 26,000 lbs.

A combination vehicle is if the vehicle(s) being towed has a gross combined weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more.

Any car with a gross weight rating (GVWR) of at least 10,001 pounds.

Any vehicle capable of towing a trailer bus or many cars.

Any size vehicle carrying materials specified as a select agent or toxin in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), Title 42, Part 73, or requiring hazardous material placards.

Also Read: How Much Do School Bus Drivers Get Paid in US?

Is It Possible to Operate a U-Haul Without a CDL?

No, a CDL is not necessary to operate a U-Haul. This is because U-Haul trucks are not regarded as business automobiles. To rent a truck or trailer from the company, you must still have a valid driver’s license from the government. Kindly remember that we do not accept digital permits.

Box Truck Accidents: Determining Liability

A box truck accident may result in liability for several parties, including any one or more of the following:

Driver of a Truck

If the truck driver violates the law or is careless, they could be held accountable for any damages.

A truck driver may be held accountable for an accident caused by drug or alcohol use, speeding, driving while fatigued, breaking hours-of-service rules, and other causes.

Transport Company

If a trucking firm fails to provide proper training for its drivers, sets unreasonable goals that push them beyond reasonable, or conducts an insufficient inspection, it may be held liable for any losses incurred.

Who Owns the Truck?

Typically, it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the truck is examined correctly, that the engine is checked, that the tires are maintained, and that the internal workings of the vehicle are in working condition.

The truck’s owner is also responsible for maintaining the vehicle’s essential components, such as the tires, brakes, automotive fluids, and electronic system.

Packing Loaders

A cargo loader may be held accountable if goods fall off the truck and injure others if they neglect to thoroughly inspect the vehicle and ensure all cargo is loaded and securely fastened.

Manufacturer(s) of Parts

If an accident results from a flaw the truck’s manufacturer(s) allowed, they can be liable for damages. For example, the manufacturer(s) of the part(s) may be responsible for damages if the item malfunctions and causes an accident.


As we wrap up our journey into the world of box trucks and CDL requirements, it’s clear that the key to unlocking the road is sometimes more complicated than it seems. Whether you’re considering a career change or just curious about the rules of the road, understanding the need for a CDL when driving a box truck is crucial. 

Remember, it’s not just about the license; it’s about safety, responsibility, and ensuring that our journeys on the road are smooth and secure. So, the next time you find yourself behind the wheel of a box truck or contemplating the idea, keep these insights in mind and drive on with confidence!

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