Takin' the CDL Test

by Tumbleweed

I took my test at a trucking company in Missouri. I was confident of everything except the walk-around inspection. I knew I had the signs, the written testing, and the driving test down pat. I was just fearful that I would forget something during the walk-around that would keep me from getting my CDL.

Hubby had showed me the ropes and I did some practicing, both on and off the road. I studied my book for hours on end. I did great on the signs and written testing. What surprised me was that I passed the inspection section with flying colors! What really surprised me was that I failed my first driving test! I had accumulated too many points and during that test, the fewer the points, the better.

Here was my problem, and it wasn't on the road - it was the obstacle course in the parking lot that got me. The head games that people play is what caused me to have to come back the next day and try again.

I was informed by the instructor that any time I knocked over a cone or had to pull up to realign the trailer for a back, I would get a point. Those points are bad things and that's all I was concerned with. So, I've got it in my head that it's gonna cost me. But for the life of me, I couldn't back worth a squat that day (just one of those days) and I pulled forward so many times that I failed. I really racked up those points trying to get backed and miss that cone.


Hubby and his best friend took me out to a huge, deserted department store parking lot and started putting me through the paces. We worked into the night. Even though they were patient as all get out and chuckling behind their hands (I caught this in the rearview while I had angry tears streaming down my face), I just kept trying harder to get it right. I wanted that damned CDL so bad that I couldn't stand it! My left leg is doing the major shakes on the clutch and I'm awfully tired after almost six hours of practicing my backing. My biggest problem was oversteering. I did start to get the hang of it by the time we called it quits that evening, but I still didn't believe that I was going to be able to pass that part of the test and get my license.

I was thoroughly P.O.'d at the guys for laughing at me, but they took me to get a good meal and explained to me that they had been through all of this themselves and that they were laughing at the memories I had reminded them of from their own beginnings in learning to drive a truck. Then they told me some of their own stories. This made me feel a little better. Of course, they got to learn on the two-stick shifters, and I was eternally grateful that I didn't have to know how to do that and have to back up, too! A few years later, though, I did want to try a double-shifter, but the opportunity never presented itself.

After that good meal and a good night's rest, I went back to the yard the next morning to try again. I was nervous, as is natural, but I had a thought. It hit me like a bolt out of the blue and I started grinning like a Cheshire cat! Hubby caught the grin and wanted to know what I was smiling about. I told him to wait and see.

So, I listen to the instructor telling me again about how to get points that will prevent my getting my CDL and then I climb up in the cab. "Now, remember," said the driving instructor, "you get a point for every cone you run over and you get a point for every time that you pull up!" Okay, let's do it, I thought to myself. Let's get this show on the road. When it came time to make the back, I never even flinched. I ran over the cone and put the trailer where it needed to be. ONE POINT! That's the only point I got and I walked away with that damn CDL in my pocket!


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.


Hours Of Service

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

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