What Causes People To Fail CDL School?

by TruckerMike

We usually talk about success here on TruckingTruth. Whether you receive our High Road Newsletter, chat in the forum, or simply read our blogs, the common theme is success and how to achieve that success. But this blog article will discuss the elephant in the room. Fact is, not everyone makes it through truck driving school. Some people do fail (albeit a very small percentage). This blog post will discuss why people fail and how to avoid that happening to you.

Having The Wrong Attitude


Many people don't realize just how difficult truck driving is. Virtually everyone thinks they are a great driver. But driving a truck is much different than driving a Ford Explorer or even a U-Haul truck. Not to mention all of the bookwork and studying that needs to be done! Truck driving school is hard and its meant to be that way. Do not go into this career thinking it's going to be easy. Whether you've been driving a truck for 4 days or 40 years, the first day you stop learning something new is the first day you become a dangerous trucker. Go in with the attitude that this is going to be tough, because it will be!

Be ready for long days, lots of studying, a little bit of sweating while in the drivers seat, and the challenge of a lifetime. Think I'm exaggerating? Take a peak at our free online CDL training program and you'll understand just how much information you're expected to learn! But at the same time, the experience can be incredibly fun and exciting. You're learning how to drive huge and powerful trucks which you'll soon be taking all over the country crisscrossing nearly every mile of interstate. Trucks are cool - enjoy the experience! You're embarking on something most people would love to do, but are simply too terrified to give it a shot!

Hanging Out With The Wrong Crowd

Within the first week of truck driving school, you'll notice some cliques forming. There's no doubt that a bond forms between students, but be very careful with who you're hanging around. There will be those who study hard and do whatever it takes to be the best. Not just to pass their exams, but to be the very best. Then, there are others who have an attitude. They feel as if truck driving is easy and they don't need to put in much effort. They think anyone can be a truck driver. Overall, they are negative and generally don't have anything positive to say. People like this show up in virtually every class. Steer clear of those people. They are typically the ones that have problems later on. Always stay positive and try to only hang out with those who bring more positivity into the situation. Don't aim to pass your CDL exams. Aim to be the best!

Failure To Have Self Discipline

The written exam can be passed by virtually anyone. Yet, thousands of people fail the written exams every month. How can this be? Simple. Those who fail the exams didn't put in the time to study. From free state CDL study manuals to free online training programs, all the resources you could ever need are there for you. All it takes is some self-discipline to study the material. If you don't study, you will fail. Plain and simple. Most truck driving schools expect you to obtain your CDL permit after the first week. That's a lot of information to learn in one week. Study now or get left behind later.

Inability To Keep Calm

One of the biggest obstacles most new drivers have to overcome is their nervousness. Now is a great time to learn how to control your emotions. Many students do just fine during class, but come test time, they get nervous and fail an exam due to poor decision making skills. Is it fair to be judged under this kind of stressful situation? Absolutely! You're going to get yourself into some sticky situations as a truck driver. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when. Every driver has a story to tell about getting lost in a major city, driving through a wicked snowstorm, dealing with congestion, roads which weren't designed for trucks, and many other unique situations where stress and emotions run high. You absolutely must learn how to keep cool under pressure. Everyone expects you to be nervous both during training and during your exam. But you must be able to show that you can control your nervousness and make sound decisions at the same time.

Giving Up

Quite a few students never stand a chance at ever obtaining their CDL. Why? Because they give up before they even have a chance to start their career. Time and time again we hear from people who struggle with various aspects of their truck driver training. Whether they are having trouble shifting, backing, learning how to properly pre-trip a truck, or anything in between, some people get real down on themselves. During these struggles, do not compare yourself to other students in your class. As an example, if everyone is backing the truck perfectly except for you, don't let that get into your head. Work with your instructors and keep pushing forward. When it comes to driving techniques like shifting and backing, drastic improvements can be made in a single day. Most people do struggle for a while until something just seems to "click" one day. For some people, that "click" comes sooner than others. But don't ever feel like you're doomed to failure if you don't catch on as quickly as other students in your class. All it takes is that one day when it "clicks" and you've got it.

Of course, it's difficult to explain all the reasons some people fail truck driving school. But it almost always comes down to the first reason listed in this article - attitude! When you think about it, all of the other reasons listed have something to do with your attitude and mindset in some way. Always think positive, always know that you can do it (you can!), always be willing to put in the hard work, and always be ready to learn something new. If you have the right attitude and stay positive, it's nearly impossible to fail.

Until next time, drive safely!



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.


Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).


Hours Of Service

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

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