a truck driver who has passed his CDL test operating a truck

Truck Driving: Preparing for Your CDL Test

Obtaining your CDL is an accomplishment that opens the door to many truck-driving opportunities. Below are some tips on what you need to know to successfully pass the CDL test and legally operate a vehicle that requires this type of license.

Basic Information

A CDL, or commercial driver's license, allows you to operate a vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds for commercial use. Examples of vehicles that would require this type of license would include tractor trailers, tow trucks, and buses, provided that they are used for a business.

Though specific state laws vary, the U.S. Department of Transportation has a set of requirements that you must pass in order to legally be able to operate one of these vehicles. Since 1992, the Federal Government has enforced that all states have the minimum requirement of a successfully completed written and skills test before a CDL can be issued.

Preparing for the Written Test

Before a CDL driver can operate any commercial vehicle, a written knowledge test must be successfully completed. This test is made up of at least 30 questions that must be answered with at least 80% accuracy.

To help you prepare for the written test, there are a variety of websites with practice questions that you can visit. A simple Internet search for "CDL practice test" will yield a large number of options.

In addition to the written knowledge test, your driving record will be examined for the last 10 years, and you will need to pass an official Department of Transportation physical. Specific state laws may vary, so make sure to check with your local Department of Motor Vehicle office prior to taking your test. After successfully completing these requirements, you will be issued a commercial learner's permit (CLP) and allowed to practice on public roads under the supervision of a licensed commercial driver.

Preparing for the Skills Test

After successfully passing the written test and having your CLP for at least 14 days, you will be eligible for your skills test. Though few states require any formal training in the two weeks that you are required to drive under supervision with your CLP, it is highly recommended. There are three parts to the skills test that you must master:

  • Vehicle Inspection Test
  • Basic Controls Test
  • Road Test

After passing all three parts of this test, you will be issued an official commercial driver's license, either while you wait or via mail a few days after you take the test. The best preparation for the skill test is to practice driving with a licensed commercial driver.

In conclusion, obtaining your CDL is an accomplishment that can open many doors in your quest to become a truck driver. Though it is an time-intensive process, there are many study aides that can propel you to a passing grade. Even though this article outlines the general requirements of the CDL test, it is important to consult your state's rules and regulations for specific directions.

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