Commercial Driving Laws: How Are They Different?

A driver behind the wheel.

The definition of commercial driving is expanding. There are roughly 2 million heavy-duty truck and tractor-trailer drivers in the US, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But there are countless other people who drive as part of their job – and that number has spiked in recent years.

While driving laws apply to everyone, there are some differences to keep in mind if your job requires driving outside of your commute.

Who is a Commercial Driver? Ask an Auto Insurer.

You may need a commercial policy if you transport goods for cash, accrue lots of miles performing your job, or transport equipment. While each situation is different, you may need a commercial policy that includes these types of coverage:

  • Comprehensive and collision
  • Uninsured motorist
  • Liability
  • Medical

Someone driving a sedan for work doesn’t need to follow the same licensing regulations as a trucker who transports hazardous material. The main legal implications kick in if you get into an accident or some other event happens that requires insurance coverage.

Rules of the Road Can Vary for Certain Commercial Drivers

Most rules and laws will be the same. But any time you’re shifting to a different type of vehicle you may need to make adjustments to ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of those around you. For instance, tailgating reportedly causes over 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year. Heavier vehicles that have more difficulty stopping need to take extra measures to avoid an accident if traffic suddenly stops in front of them.

The formula will depend on what vehicle you plan to drive, but here are some things you’ll need to know:

  • Stopping Distance. The distance it takes for your vehicle to come to a complete stop based on the current speed that you are traveling and your reaction time.
  • Reaction Distance. The distance your vehicle travels from the time you decide to apply your brakes to when you push the brake pedal down.
  • Braking Distance. The distance your vehicle travels from when you apply the brakes until it comes to a complete stop will depend on several factors, including your speed, the type of vehicle you’re driving, the condition of your brakes and tires and road conditions.

Some Arizona Regulations Depend on the Vehicle

If you drive professionally, there may be some different rules and regulations depending on the type of vehicle you use. For example, a combination vehicle (truck and trailer) of a particular combined weight or more will require getting a Class A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). Arizona defines a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) as any vehicle that is more than 26,000 pounds, carries 8 or more passengers, or transports hazardous materials (details may vary).

Who Can Be a Commercial Driver in Arizona?

Some rules that usually apply include:

  • You are at least 21.
  • You live in Arizona.
  • You have proof of citizenship or lawful permanent residency, and possibly other qualifying documentation.
  • You may need to pass a separate driving test.

Regarding Commercial Auto Insurance: Liability May Shift to Your Employer

Anyone can get into an accident. But if you’re driving for work purposes, the business could be subject to liability laws if there is an accident. Talk to an auto insurance provider about what type of insurance you need. Be prepared to answer specific questions about what you’ll be driving, whether you’ll have passengers, where you’ll drive, and other work-related details. Insurance is complicated, and you want to be sure you have the proper collision coverage, liability coverage, and a full range of protections.

Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (ADOT): Commercial Driving and Driver’s License Information

You may need to use separate commercial driver’s license services, for example when seeking license duplicates or having a new address. You may need to fill in gaps if you’re considering becoming a commercial driver, or aren’t sure if you fill the definition of one. The best source of information on such matters is the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (ADOT). If you will cross the border into another state, you may need an intra-state vehicle registration, fuel tax license, or may need to follow other special rules.

The ADOT website outlines the steps on how to acquire a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or Commercial Learner Permit (CLP) if you’ll be working and driving in the state of Arizona. Since details regarding title, registration and operator license requirements can change, they advise checking the Motor Vehicle Division and What’s New pages at for updates.

Still have some questions? Call AZ Auto for a FREE insurance quote today, and to get your commercial auto insurance questions answered.