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Thread: Air Brakes

  1. Default Air Brakes

    I will be in USA from NZ early Oct to buy an RV for extended travelling in hopefully USA, Canada and Mexico. I have heard that there are certain States in USA and Canada whereby you need an endorsement on your licence to have a vehicle with air brakes. Is this true?

  2. #2

    Default Cdl

    Hi Daisydog,

    This is just a stab at an answer, as driver's license statutes and regs are, as you know, a state-by-state issue. That said, I don't believe my home state of NC requires an endorsement for air brakes per se. What IS required is a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) for the operator of any vehicle which is over 26,000 lbs gross vehicle weight (GVW). The term most often used here is "pusher" which refers to rear-engine bus-style motorcoaches, most of which I would assume are > 26,000 lbs, diesel powered, and employ air brakes. The next size down should be "Class A" which are often gasoline powered, shorter and lighter than a pusher, and < 26,000 lbs, having regular hydraulic-power assist brakes. If there are Class As with air brakes, I am not familiar with them. The sizes get smaller from there and I don't know that I've seen the smaller models with air brakes whatsoever.

    I hope this helps.

    Foy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    10,059

    Default RVs are exempt in all US States

    Unless there has been a change in the last couple of months -- I am unaware of any state that requires any kind of endorsement for driving any kind of RV (no matter what the size and weight of the vehicle). All RV's used for personal use are exempted from CDL requirements. There are some wishy-washy and otherwise murkier conditions for professional drivers driving RV's in support of professional racing teams -- but I believe even those are generally exempt from CDL requirements.

    Mark

  4. #4

    Default Good info, Mark

    It's great to be corrected in an informative, yet gracious, manner.

    It occurred to me there could be exemptions to the CDL rules for recreational operators of RVs but I was puzzled by the normal 26,000 lb CDL breakpoint and was guessing few other than the diesel pusher "bus-style" motorcoaches would approach that weight to begin with.

    Best,

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Default That wasn't gracious?

    I didn't mean that to sound harsh -- traffic laws in the USA are not consistent on this issue -- truthfully, I don't know what the current standards are. All I do know is that I know plenty of diesel-pusher owners and none of them have CDLs. But I welcome any additional tips or information you have on this issue (and I certainly apologize for the tone -- 100% unintended).

    Mark

  6. #6

    Default No offense taken whatsoever

    Mark,

    I was sincere, not sarcastic, in my thanks for the correction, as well as my thanks for the genuinely gracious tone of it. No offense sensed and none taken.

    The one gentleman I know who's operated a diesel pusher for some 20 years happens to be a retired truck driver who kept up his CDL for some time. It makes much sense to me there'd be an exemption for recreational operators, just as it makes sense that the coach drivers for race teams, John Madden, etc aren't engaged in recreational activities and require licensure commensurate with their vehicles and tasks.

    Foy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Las Vegas, Nevada
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    Default I just don't know

    I drove support for a CART team in 1997 -- 34-foot motorhome (it wasn't a pusher, but we were certainly operating fully-laden) -- I can't remember what our scale rate was -- but in any case I didn't have a CDL and it never came up as to whether I needed one.

    So, getting back to the air brakes issue -- someone should look into this for us! {I've asked our two resident RV experts, (Alice and Jamie), for their comments}

    Mark
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 09-11-2008 at 10:35 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
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    3,318

    Default Oh, I so disagree with this

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    It makes much sense to me there'd be an exemption for recreational operators
    Have you seen how some of them drive? I think I've seen more near-miss accidents in the wake of something an RV driver has done, especially those driving the really big Class A's, than any other cause. Quite a few seem to drive with the attitude of "hey, I'm big and I can do what I like". It drives me batty. A highway goes straight through my town and I have seen things that would make you want to stay off the road.

    Of course, I'm not talking about all drivers of bigger RVs....so please don't take personal offense, anybody....but they are out there. Heck, my father-in-law who used to have a 32' Class A would white-knuckle it and be so afraid of what was up ahead that he never turned his head. I rode with him at the wheel once. Never again. He drove his car just fine.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
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    Default Inattentive drivers are vehicle-non-specific

    I have never noticed any higher trend among RV drivers as being any more distracted or dangerous than any other class. I think one has to give extra room to RV rental drivers -- but as rule, in my experience drivers of Class A RVs (the big ones) are more skilled than most drivers in passenger cars. It really comes down to the higher performance any kind of vehicle is the better caliber of driver will be found behind the wheel. Given a choice, I would rather drive down the road with a fleet of Prevosts than a generic mix of inexpensive passenger cars -- based strictly on the skill levels of the drivers.

    Mark

  10. #10
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    Default Yeah, bad drivers can be driving any kind of vehicle

    But the sheer size of the bigger rigs can have a bigger impact. The narrow streets in my town, with lots of turns and lights, just aren't made for the traffic that drives through town, particularly in the summer or during clam tides, so this probably emphasizes the driving skills, or lack thereof, of those in the big RVs. Just the other day, I had one turn left from the right-hand lane just in front of me. I was in the left-hand lane about 20 feet back of him. If I hadn't been paying attention, I could have slammed right into him. I'm glad nobody was close behind me. I could relate far more close encounters like that with RVs than I can with other cars. But, then again, the characteristics of my particular town's roads might be contributing to that. Although I have seen similar elsewhere, too.

    I know I have heard many other people lament that RV drivers aren't required to get a CDL license so it's not just me. I think that it might be good to have some kind of in-between requirement. If people need an endorsement to drive a motorcycle, why not to drive a 30-footer? Makes no sense to me!

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