Truck driving school typically lasts for four weeks--two weeks of classroom sessions and two weeks of hands-on driver training. In this setting, you may gain the skills and knowledge for a Commercial Driver's License (CDL license). Preparing for your CDL exam means completing various methods of training, including classroom and driving instruction.
Preparing for Your CDL Exam: Classroom and Driving Instruction
Classroom sessions: The classroom sessions cover a variety of subjects, including traffic laws, safety regulations, log books, and driver vehicle inspection reports. This preparation you may need for your CDL exams. The log book sessions are very important because some states have moved log book violations out of traffic and made them misdemeanors. Either way, they could be expensive and may get you fired. There is no reason to cheat on your log book.
Driving lessons: Driving lessons traditionally cover pre-trip inspection, shifting gears, backing, and real time driving over different types of roads. During these lessons you may learn safe driving practices, like space control and backing safely.
Remember, there is an exam when you complete truck driving school. While intense, courses are typically short and may cover what you need to meet CDL license requirements.
The CDL Exam: General Knowledge and Driving Test
The truck driving school typically arranges for all testing--both written and skill tests. Currently, the CDL exam process involves a written and a driving test. Beginning January 2011, a third phase--the basic control test--goes into effect.
General knowledge exam: The general knowledge test is usually 50 questions and is required of all applicants.
Driving test: The driving test consists of two parts--a pre-trip inspection and the actual driving test. The pre-trip inspection tests your ability to determine that the vehicle is safe to drive. You have to explain to the examiner how you would examine the various components of your vehicle.
The purpose of the on road test is to verify you may safely operate your vehicle. This test evaluates your driving skills. Some of the skills in the test are left and right turns, backing, driving up and down grades, railroad crossings, and curves. The examiner may ask questions about traffic signs you just passed so be alert.
The CDL Exam and Endorsements
In addition to the general knowledge exam and driving test, you may also test on as many endorsements as you like, such as:
- Air Brake
- Combination Vehicle
- Tank Vehicle
- Doubles and Triple
- Hazardous Materials
Air Brake: The Air Brake exam tests your understanding of air brake system components and their operation. This is required if you intend to operate any commercial vehicle that has an air brake system.
Tank Vehicle: The Tank Vehicle endorsement is required if your commercial vehicle is designed to carry 119 gallons or more in a permanently mounted tank, or more than 1000 gallons in a portable tank.
Double and Triple: The Double and Triple endorsement is required if your vehicle includes double or triple trailers. The regulations for these vary from state to state so check with your employer for local laws.
Hazardous Materials: The Hazardous Materials endorsement is different from the other endorsements and since September 11, 2001 it is regulated by the T.S.A (Transportation Security Administration). You are required to both take the written test and to submit to an FBI background check which includes fingerprinting and supplying the proper documentation. A CDL with a hazmat endorsement cannot be issued until this is approved.
By attending truck driving school, you could get prepared for your CDL exam and to meet all of the CDL license requirements to become a truck driver.