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Don’t Truck Things Up! What Is Commercial Truck Classification?

America is dependent on trucks moving food and goods across the country. Without them, most grocery stores would run out of food in three days. In 2017, these commercial trucks moved 10.8 billion tons of freight.

It takes several different classification truck types to move freight. The commercial truck classification is determined by their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This article is going to explain the GVWR and everything you need to know about classifying commercial trucks.


What Is Commercial Truck Classification?

Commercial vehicle classes are weight categories. The vehicle’s GVWR is a combination of the vehicle’s total weight (including fuel and fluids) and its total cargo carrying capacity.

  • Class 1: 0-6,000 lbs.
  • Class 2: 6,001-10,000 lbs.
  • Class 3: 10,001-14,000 lbs.
  • Class 4: 14,001-16,000 lbs.
  • Class 5: 16,001-19,500 lbs.
  • Class 6: 19,501-26,000 lbs.
  • Class 7: 26,001-33,000 lbs.
  • Class 8: 33,000 lbs.+

If a truck falls into the first three classes, then it’s considered a light truck. Classes four through six are medium trucks. Part of class six through class eight are heavy-duty trucks.

Purpose of Classifications of Commercial Trucks

Classifying commercial vehicles can allow for the regulation of these vehicles, which can improve their safety. It also allows for the classification of the vehicles by industry and purpose. Finally, it aids in the registration of these vehicles when an owner wants to begin using a new one.

What Counts as a Commercial Vehicle?

The term “commercial vehicle” is a broad one that can refer to anything from a company car or other business use vehicle to a large semi-truck.

Typically, any vehicle that’s designed to carry more than 15 passengers is automatically considered a commercial vehicle. Also, any vehicle that has a weight rating of at least 26,001 is automatically considered a commercial vehicle.

Light Trucks

These lightweight vehicles can be a consumer car, truck, SUV, or minivan. The difference is the purpose the vehicle is used for. At the larger end in class three, you’ll see some larger vehicles, such as a city delivery box truck or walk-in truck (such as a UPS or FedEx truck).

Commercial vehicles that have a GVWR of 10,001 pounds or over must comply with federal and state safety regulations. They must also stop at highway weight and inspection stations.

Medium Trucks

The vehicles in the middleweight category are typically manufactured with a specific commercial purpose in mind. These vehicles include larger city delivery or walk-in trucks, landscaping utility trucks, a school bus, or a utility bucket truck.

Heavy Trucks

Up until this category, drivers did not need a CDL to operate the commercial vehicle. Once you get to class seven and eight, you’ll need to obtain one to legally operate the truck.

The vehicles that are in these two categories consist of the largest of the commercial vehicles on the road.

  • City transit bus
  • Tow truck
  • Garbage truck
  • Tour bus
  • Semi-trucks
  • Dump trucks
  • Cement mixer
  • Firetruck

Commercial Truck Classification Demystified

Understanding the different commercial truck classification types can help you select the right vehicle for your supply chain needs. As you can see, the different types of vehicles perform best for their given purpose.

Knowing the varying regulations for the different classifications will also ensure you stay compliant with state and federal regulations.

Browse our other business article for more helpful explanations on lesser-known industries.

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