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Old 03-25-2010, 08:27 PM   #1
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Texas non-CDL requirements for RVs

Thanks again to those who didn't hijack my CHL thread in a different direction after I mentioned that I thought the Texas requirements for non-CDL driver's licenses were an example of bad government. Let's debate that here.

My reasons:
1. The rules in Texas for which licenses apply appear to follow the Federal guidelines which I also think are gobbledygook.
2. Multiple phone calls to the DPS about the rules will get you many different and often very wrong answers as to their application. If the rules were as clear as they should be, the people charged with administering should be able to understand and communicate them. That just isn't the case.
3. The process for dealing with them doesn't make sense. Please follow this example.
- I want to buy a 30K pound MH out of State. How do I get my license without breaking the law? Yes, I know what most people do under these circumstances. That isn't my point. As soon as I turn the ignition switch for the MH in question in any State, I've broken Texas law. Go rent a comparable MH to take the test in advance you say? Fine, where and under what conditions do I learn how to drive it? I'm supposed to know how to safely operate it. By all common sense, no rental agency should rent to me without the proper license. I don't accept that I have to break the law before I comply with it. If it important that I have a different license, I need a legal path to get there.
4. OK. OK. It is a big vehicle and I should do something to learn how to drive it properly. So where is the Texas Handbook for vehicles that size (not OTRs) that tells me what I should know about it? An RV (MH or qualifying 5th wheel/TV) is NOT an OTR.
5. Yep, I know the answer....study the CDL handbook. Let's see....hazardous cargo...... So here I am, an anxious student, left to dig through this CDL pile of information, trying to figure out exactly what parts should apply to me. Weight stations? Log books? Placards?
6. Yep, I know the response to that one, too. "If you cannot figure it out, you shouldn't be driving the RV." To make the comparison, however, that is NOT the case with the CHL. Everything is clearly spelled out - just like it should be.
7. Ok, Charlie. So are you saying that doing nothing is better that the way it is done today? YES! Why? Because if there were nothing, there would be pressure to do something and hopefully that something would be set of required material that was geared toward RVs and actually required that driving skills (besides backing into a loading dock)

Now.
A. My RV does not require anything but a Class C license because if its weight. Can I cause less mayheim that something that only weighs 4,000lbs more?
B. I took and passed the written portion of the CDL the first time without ever studying for it. I shouldn't be able to do that if it were RV specific. Like the CHL, where I'm required to know specific statutes and limitations (that I cannot pass a test about without studying.) an license process whose purpose was to demonstrate RV proficiency should be no different. If you want to require the license because an RV can be a deadly weapon just like a gun, the license should have a similar approach.

One last set of points.
- have you ever heard of anyone who flunked a Class A or B non-CDL test for any valid reason? I don't mean because they couldn't quote 50 items on a pre-trip checklist, I mean because they couldn't handle the driving part of the RV? I do understand that the backing test could scrape off a few applicants but the real RV skills (holding your lane in heavy traffic, turning at a tight intersection, going down a steep hill) aren't part of the test.
- As a class, RV drivers are one of the safest on the road. My insurance co says so. If we weren't my RV insurance wouldn't cost me less per year than my passenger cars - where I declare the same yearly mileage and no back and forth to work. Yes, I do understand that we are a small population and that there are few statistics that show what part of that population is involved in accidents.

Lastly, I believe in limited government. That means that government cannot spend money on protecting everybody from everything. Calculations about where the problems lie need to be made and funds spent for the highest priority items. Today, we ignore the biggest problems and focus on nits like RVs. I think the money being spent on RV licensing should be diverted to something more important - like saving lives. And no, I'm not afraid of taking the test, written or on the road. Bring it on. This isn't about whether I'm afraid of not passing it but that I think it is a waste of time, doesn't address the true problems with RV driving and is just another opportunity for the government to collect additional license fees.

Ok. Let's go.....
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:21 AM   #2
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Actually, I think you can take a written test and get a learners permit for the MH. That allows you to drive the mh. You don't need another person with you while you're driving. When ready, go take the driving test.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:49 AM   #3
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You may be correct but I cannot find any documentation for that in Texas. Perhaps I'm just looking in the wrong places. When we bought our RV, I spent time on the phone with DPS until I confirmed that I didn't need a special license. A learner's permit was never mentioned in those conversations.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:53 AM   #4
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Do it the easy way. Move to Tennessee. They let anyone drive anything.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
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Do it the easy way. Move to Tennessee. They let anyone drive anything.
LOL. And as a result, the crash statistics in TN are twice the national average, right?
NOT!

I'm reminded of a parallel situation. In NJ, motorists are not permitted to pump their own gas. It is for "safety reasons". OK, I get it. Some people are dumb enough to go in and out of their cars during the fueling process (potentially generating static electricity and igniting the fuel vapors) or they might try to fill small gas cans still inside their vehicles. So NJ must be a safer place than the other 48 States (there is at least one more State with similar rules)? I feel so "protected" while fueling in NJ. I learned that my protection doesn't extend to diesel. I cannot pump my own diesel in NJ if I pull into a regular gas station. If I pull into a truck stop, I have to pump my own diesel. Truck drivers are safer at pumping diesel that the rest of the population? How about wanna be truck drivers who own diesel powered RVs and cannot get into the passenger car lanes?

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Old 03-26-2010, 10:27 AM   #6
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I've been following your posts with an inquisitive interest as I live in Texas and was not aware of the requirement for a different license from the one I use to drive my car. My guess is that 99% of us were also unaware. The fact that you took the time to research the topic and try to comply with the rules is commendable. It's too bad that you have to jump through hoops to determine what the laws are, but that's the way it goes, not only here in Texas but many other states. I have never seen a large MH or fiver pulled over in Texas, although I'm sure it happens. I have seen PLENTY of semis pulled over, however. I guess my point is that unless you have an accident or are seriously speeding, your chances of being pulled over in Texas are nearly non-existent. In my case, I have no intention of adding a license that I would probably never need.
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Old 03-26-2010, 01:36 PM   #7
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Golden, you've made another excellent point that I didn't. Thank you for adding it.

Call me stupid (or worse) but I think that people generally try to do what is right. Yes, all of us will push our speed above the posted limits but I believe that the majority of people do not deliberately set out to flaunt all of the rules just to prove that they can.

In another thread, I talked about a nightmare of a building project. The Town held me hostage on approval of the project (so that I could start moving my stuff into) so that I could get the electric meter installed and they could come out and prove that my single GFCI outlet was working properly. What they didn't see it that previous owners of the property had done all kinds of dangerous things (like burying live electric cable 3" deep without conduit) because they didn't want the hassle of dealing with an obnoxiously onerous government. When they make the rules so difficult to follow and understand, they end up achieving the exact opposite of the desired result.

I'd venture a guess that you have a lot of company. It could be as high as 50% but that is purely a guess on my part (that is 50% of those that currently drive a rig which should require a non-CDL Class A or B and don't have it.). And that helps promote safety how????

I know about programs where Texas (and some other States) are comparing insurance company lists of policies by VIN to currently registered vehicles in the State and finding exceptions (registered vehicles where there is no active insurance policy.). I was caught in that because of an error when Texas registered my VIN. It is possible that they could do a similar comparison on vehicles with GVW over 26,000lbs, though exactly where they would get that information and how they would compare it to the driver's license type of registered owners isn't clear. Short of that, I suspect that many more will buy large MHs and drive them. If it ever becomes a real traffic hazard, perhaps a program will deal with it. In the mean time, I think you are right. You are not likely to be even questioned.

On a slightly related story, I was pulled over driving our MH near Rayford Crossing. The officer gave me a thorough tongue lashing about driving a "30K pound vehicle recklessly." I handed him a Class C license. It was obviously more important to berate me than to verify that I even had the proper license for my vehicle. P.S. I didn't get a ticket for my supposed offense but he did tell me to get out of his county immediately. I was only too happy to oblige. I haven't had an accident or a moving violation in 30 years and nearly a million miles of driving and I didn't want him to break my record.
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Old 03-26-2010, 04:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golden View Post
I've been following your posts with an inquisitive interest as I live in Texas and was not aware of the requirement for a different license from the one I use to drive my car. My guess is that 99% of us were also unaware. The fact that you took the time to research the topic and try to comply with the rules is commendable. It's too bad that you have to jump through hoops to determine what the laws are, but that's the way it goes, not only here in Texas but many other states. I have never seen a large MH or fiver pulled over in Texas, although I'm sure it happens. I have seen PLENTY of semis pulled over, however. I guess my point is that unless you have an accident or are seriously speeding, your chances of being pulled over in Texas are nearly non-existent. In my case, I have no intention of adding a license that I would probably never need.
I'm still not sure I believe it anyway. The DMV website has conflicting rules. They state that Individuals driving a Motorhome for personal reasons are exempt (or some such wording) this is after they state that any vehicle over 26,000 pounds. I will probably go ahead and get the license but it is really not clear to me that it is required.
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:02 PM   #9
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I'm still not sure I believe it anyway. The DMV website has conflicting rules. They state that Individuals driving a Motorhome for personal reasons are exempt (or some such wording) this is after they state that any vehicle over 26,000 pounds. I will probably go ahead and get the license but it is really not clear to me that it is required.

our dmv is confused as well.
still sitting on the fence
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:09 PM   #10
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What really needs to happen is all the states need to get together and get on the bandwagon that a large Class A counts in the same category as a school bus or other large people mover.

Thus, the owners would need to pay out of pocket to go to a Truck Driving School PRIOR to buying their giant motorhome, and gain experience in operating a large commercial grade bus, but the by product should be that they now know the ins and outs of operating a massive commercial-sized vehicle and can apply that to operating a motorhome.
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:07 PM   #11
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They state that Individuals driving a Motorhome for personal reasons are exempt (or some such wording) this is after they state that any vehicle over 26,000 pounds.
If you're referring to Texas, I believe that exemption is found in the section of the statutes dealing with CDL's - and that's accurate; you DON'T need a CDL if you're driving a motorhome for personal use. The Class A, B and C licenses we've been discussing are NON-CDL licenses.

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Old 03-26-2010, 07:30 PM   #12
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I recently visited the DPS office in Huntsville, Tx to get a drivers manual. When I told them I needed study material for obtaining the correct license for a 26001# MH pulling a trailer of less than 10,000#, I left with a CDL book and a Texas Drivers License book oh and three ladies in a heated debate over what I really needed.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:16 PM   #13
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considering all I went through to get a Texas license, having moved here from Cali... and my new Tx license doesn't expire for 7 years... I am not really interested in going right back to the DMV to start messing with that...
Can't believe all the documentation we have to have these days to prove we are really who we say we are.
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Old 03-26-2010, 08:22 PM   #14
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I guess you really should just be an old Texan. When I was coming up I got a full Texas drivers license (not a learners permit) at age 14. When I was 19 I took the 3/4 ton pickup from the family business down and got a
class A CDL. Through the years I added things like tanker and hazardous materials just by taking the test. I can legally drive anything on the road.
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