CDL Exam Day: Hoping To Get My License - Not An Ulcer

by Peter Jr

Olah! I haven't written for a few weeks, so I have to catch everyone up on how things have been going. I finished school. That's right. I'm now allowed to drive one of the biggest, baddest vehicles on the road. I can pull tankers full of gas, or truck loads of paper cups. Anything that needs to be pulled, I have the ability to pull it.

The last week of school, everything started to fall into place. Alley backing fears became a thing of the past, no more grinding gears, no more popping clutches, it was great. For the first time in my life, I felt like a professional driver. I felt a confidence in my driving ability that I have never felt before. It's a wonderful feeling. But as it started to get closer and closer to testing day, I started to get nervous. Like, what if I was in the middle of my test and I smashed into a group of elderly nuns crossing the street? Unlikely, but it could happen. What if I stalled the truck, popped a curb, or just flat out choked? Failure is a pain in my ass. I hate failing at anything. It happens, but man, it isn't fun. So I figured that I had to grow a pair and put the figurative pedal to the floor.over_the_road_driving.jpg

We show up to the DPS at sevenish, and played the waiting game. They have to get all our paperwork arranged, and make me panic a little more. I just want you to take a moment and picture this, first off, I'm the youngest guy in my class, so it seemed that all these older guys are just so much more confident in there abilities. There's also another company school testing that day. So there's like thirty to forty guys and gals all out in this gravel parking lot in front of the DPS. Everyone's sitting around, eating their McMuffins or whatever, and I'm pacing. Pacing back and forth between the two trucks that my school brought, chain smoking Marlboro reds (which by the way are WAY too expensive now for me to waist on things like my nerves), and I'm cursing under my breath. Everyone else is kind of staring at me, one guy said "Hey man, it's not that big of a deal" so then I went on a tangent about how this is my career, my family is depending on me to succeed. Yadda yadda yadda. The guy looks at me like he understood. So I continued on my back and forth power walk. I don't know what it is. It's just something about tests that get me. In Texas they have a series of standardized tests called the TAKS tests. Every Texas student has to take it to graduate from high school. I didn't sleep for two nights because of those damn tests. AHH!

About an hour later, four examiners came out to introduce themselves, and told us what they were going to be doing. "Ladies and gentleman are going to be testing your basic skill level to obtain a class a cdl. It's going to include 3 parts, the general driving part, which is how well you control the vehicle, parallel parking, and straight line backing. Do not impede traffic, do not ask the examiners any questions about how your doing on the test, and do not hit anything." Thanks for helping me calm my inner-tension. Everyone goes back to hanging out, and they start calling out names. My last name is one of the last letters of the alphabet, so that gives me more time to bite my nails, and work on getting that peptic ulcer that I've always wanted. One by one the students came back from testing, and there were a lot of different test scores. Two guys from my class failed and had to retest later that day. Then finally I hear it. PETER! Your up.

My heart racing, I walk up to the ten speed freightliner and climb in. the lady introduces herself, and I start my air brake test. After that, I'm off! Everything is going great. I'm driving like a pro, and I start to calm down. I feel like a weight has been lifted. Then out of nowhere, she tells me to pull off to right. I stop the rig, and she hops out. Parallel parking time. I thought that we were going to do it at the DMV or something, but I was ready. She walks over to the side of the truck and says to go ahead and back up and park it on the curb. I think, easy enough. I've done this a hundred times. I shift to reverse and start going. All of the sudden, the truck starts shooting backwards. Were on a hill, so assumed that was the reason. So instead of stopping, I try to just finish parking. To my surprise, I parked it perfectly… at twenty miles per hour. I didn't know what the hell just happened. But I look in the mirror, and the lady looked at me and gave me a thumbs up. She actually was telling me good job. What had happened was that I left the gear switch in high gear. But damn I felt awesome. After that I did straight line backing, (at a regular speed) then it was back to the DMV. The whole way back I thought I failed because of that incident. We pull in, and she hands me the verdict. I passed! I beat that test like it owed me money. She took one point off because I grinded gears down shifting from sixth to fifth. I felt like a big man walking back from that truck. I was humming the Rocky Balboa stair climbing song the whole way back to the van. Ahh sweet relief.

And just like that, I have a CDL. Good bye crappy dead-end jobs, hello open road.



Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Department of Motor Vehicles, Bureau of Motor Vehicles

The state agency that handles everything related to your driver's licences, including testing, issuance, transfers, and revocation.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
by Brett Aquila

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