If you want to be a commercial truck driver then you will need to acquire a CDL prior to getting behind the wheel. Taking the test can be quite difficult and does require a lot of studying to pass. All drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles need to obtain a Commercial Drivers License. To do this, you have to pass a CDL test, which consists of about 3 tests.
- A General Test (written test)
- Endorsements Test (road test)
- Air Brakes Test
The tests that you take will depend on what classification of CDL you are seeking to obtain. These classifications also determine what vehicle you will be driving.
This class allows you to drive any combination of vehicles weighing more than 26,001 GVWR and tow vehicles over 10,000lbs. Most large trucks on the road carry this classification.
Allows you to operate any single vehicle weighing more than 26,000 GVWR or more and to tow other vehicles up to 10,000lbs. Examples include dump trucks, trash pick-up trucks, a bus or straight truck. Having a Class B will allow you to cover a Class C vehicle.
This Class covers what A and B fail to do. It is required for transporting 16 or more occupants or for transporting hazardous materials.
What Is The General Test?
The general knowledge test is also more commonly known as the written portion of the CDL test. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions covering major need-to-know topics. These topics include CDL rules, requirements, safe driving, transportation of freight or cargo and the pre-trip vehicle inspections.
What Is Involved In A CDL Road Test?
Your CDL road test is where you get behind the wheel and show off our driving skills, proving that you can meet the safety requirements for driving in your desired classification. Before taking the test you must hold your CDL learner permit for at least 30 days before you can schedule your CDL road skills test.
Your CDL Road test is broken down into 3 parts
- Skills and pre-trip inspection
In the skills and pre-trip inspection portion of your CDL test, you will be required to show that you can properly inspect your vehicle. The driving skills portion will test your ability to handle the vehicle on the road and show that you can operate a commercial vehicle.
The backing test varies per state as they each have their own regulations in place, but this portion will test your skills at backing up. These could include different options such as straight backing, parallel parking or alley docking.
Your state will prepare you for the ones that they require from you. While you are allowed to make a certain number of errors during the test, if you fail any portion of your CDL skills test, you will be required to retake the entire exam. Which means you will need to wait the minimum waiting period for your area and pay the initial testing fee again.
About the CDL HAZMAT Test
Passing the CDL HAZMAT Test is essential for CDL operators that want to transport hazardous materials. By obtaining this certification, your CDL will have a Hazardous Materials Endorsement on your license.
Government regulations determine what materials are considered hazardous, but they often include:
- Gas or diesel
- Flammable or combustible liquids
- Any materials that could cause harm
By securing the HME on your CDL, you not only get the new lucrative job of transporting hazardous materials, but you also get a nice pay increase as well. The HME can have a significant impact on a drivers career and salary and opens them up to many more opportunities for transporting items.
How To Prepare For A CDL HAZMAT Endorsement
An HME shows that you are fully qualified to prepare for a potentially dangerous situation. If anything were to go wrong with your hazardous materials being transported, it would not only affect the driver but also affect every other driver on the road. An HME on a CDL also legally helps to protect the driver and the company that they work for. Due to the safety risks that come with transporting hazardous materials, there are a lot of steps needed before earning a CDL HAZMAT Endorsement.
After getting a CDL classification of A, B, or C, you will need to:
- Complete the Hazardous Materials Endorsement application
- Pass a medical screening
- Schedule your CDL HAZMAT Test
- Pass the CDL HAZMAT Test
- Submit a TSA Background Security Clearance
- Upon completion, TSA will send your official notice of completion.
You will receive your CDL HAZMAT Endorsement after your state receives their copy.
What Is On a CDL HAZMAT Test?
The CDL HAZMAT Test assesses your knowledge and understanding of Federal and State regulations, safety, and responsibilities. With an average of over 30 questions, you will be tested on different topics, including:
- Emergency situations
- Safely loading and unloading
- Driving and parking regulations you have to follow
- Your responsibilities as a HAZMAT driver
- Bulk tank marking
- The reasons for the regulations
To pass the CDL HAZMAT Test, you have to score 80% or better with the questions, or else you will need to schedule a retake. While becoming a commercial truck driver and getting endorsements for your classification requires a lot of studying and hardwork, the rewards speak for themselves. Being paid to travel the country is a great way to experience freedom and adventure.