Passing My Pre-Trip Inspection Exam Was Not Easy

by Rhonda

I will share my experience of doing my pre-trip with the CDL examiner back in 2001. This will fit right in with TruckerMike's blogs. I chose to go to a driving school to upgrade my Class B CDL to a class A CDL. I did this after talking to trucking companies about the possibility of my job coming to an end. I asked them if I should get my class A CDL through my employer using a dump truck with a trailer or attend a truck driving school? My contacts said it was best to go to a trucking school to get it, so I did. With this being said, my experiences mirror TruckerMike's blogs so I won't say too much about it except for the pre-trip experience.

I had a very tough time with the pre-trip inspection. I am not mechanically inclined and all these terms and parts were a strange language for me. I also could not fathom being failed, if you could not tell anyone that you are looking at a _____ and it does_____.They must take in the fact that you are trying and know what you are looking for, right???

I struggled and studied daily on this pre-trip stuff. It was just plain hard for me. I was in a tizzy over this. But all I could do was, do my best. Finally the day came for my classmates and I to take the test. When it was my turn for the pre-trip with the examiner, we started off on the left side of the truck. I was doing my speech pretty well and before I could finish, the examiner would say "OK, let's move on" or something like that and walk to another part of the vehicle when I was not done with the current part. This flustered me but I thought I must really be doing well and I don't have to suffer through this whole speech thing I was trying to do.

But after another 1 or 2 of these "move on" comments, I was told I failed! What do you mean I failed when I have done what was asked of me?? My instructor was told that I was not ready and I was in tears. I told my instructor, "this is what the examiner did". The three of us talked about it and I was told that those comments were meant to hurry things along - yet finish the pre-trip as I was taught. Now you tell me this??? I was not a happy camper!

I had to come back the next day, and this time I was ready. I had the same examiner and we started at the same spot and I ignored the "move on" comments and I also did one other thing. I said something like this, "I am not a mechanic and I will soon forget the names of these parts so here is what I am going to do in real life pre-trips. I went thru the rest of the pre-trip pointing at everything we learned and even added a few because I said I am a woman and I would check this or that to be safe because I think I should. Continuing, I said, "This thing here does ____ & we need to check it for_____." When I finished the pre-trip, I said "I have just shown you that I do know the pre-trip and what to look for, I just do not know the names of the parts. So you can fail me if you feel I did not follow the rules." But I passed!

So that was my experience with the pre-trip inspection. Now here we are in 2009 and I still check out my vehicle, I look at all of the critical items but I still do not know their names or I get them mixed up. I know I was lucky on my exam and I had an examiner who used common sense after I did prove I could do a pre-trip. But if you get a "by the book" examiner, you will have problems doing it the way I did it. I have 7 1/2 years in truck driving and a perfect record. My story isn't meant to tell you that you don't need to learn the pre-trip the proper way. You do need to learn it. To this day get out my notes and still try to learn those pesky terms! It acts as a nice refresher for me. Never stop learning.

Pre-trip Inspection:

A pre-trip inspection is a thorough inspection of the truck completed before driving for the first time each day.

Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they judge a vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it is repaired.


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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