CDL Training - My Third Day of Truck Driving School!

by TruckerMike

Another day of truck driving school down, one day closer to getting into the truck! Today was a fun, but challenging day. The information keeps building and building and our instructor is really pushing us to remember everything. After all, our CDL permit test is this Friday. Only two days away! While it's a bit stressful trying to learn so much information in such a short period of time, I feel it's well within my abilities. And the things I'm learning are things I'm truly interested in, so it makes things much more bearable.

One thing I'm starting to notice is the camaraderie the class is starting to form. On Monday, the owner of the school said that by the end of this we will all probably be friends. I can already see it developing. We already have some "inside jokes" and are having a good time while giving each other a hard time! It's really becoming a lot more fun to be with my classmates. We're all going through the same experience together, are nervous about the same things, have the same aspirations, and are really starting to crank up the fun level.

Speaking of nervous, the class that's ahead of us is doing their skills and road tests this week. They started their skills test today, which is basically driving maneuvers in the yard (backing, driving between cones, etc.). Just seeing how nervous they were today was making me nervous! Everybody in that class passed the skills test except one guy. During straight line backing, you must back up to a specific point, then pull forward and make a turn within a set of cones. Well, he did the straight line backing perfect. But as he pulled forward and made the turn he hit a cone which is an automatic fail. That sucks!! He'll be able to retake the test next week, but I feel bad for him. The rest of that class goes on their road test tomorrow. Hopefully their nervousness doesn't rub off on me again!


We started off class today by taking a 50 question test on what we went over yesterday. I studied pretty hard last night and did very well on it. I only got one question wrong. And once again, I was the only person in the room to get it wrong. The question was something like this:

If possible, you should do the following if you are forced onto the shoulder of the road:

A. Keep one set of wheels on the pavement. B. Use your brakes until 20mph. C. Stay on the shoulder until you come to a complete stop. D. All of the above.

The correct answer is A. I chose D. Here's my explanation. If you look on page 42 of the Illinois Study Guide, it gives an explanation of what you should do if you're forced onto the shoulder. Here's what it says:

  • Avoid Braking: If possible, avoid using your brakes until your speed has dropped to about 20 mph. Then brake very gently to avoid skidding on a loose surface.
  • Keep one set of wheels on pavement if possible – This helps to maintain control of the vehicle.
  • Stay on the shoulder – If the shoulder is clear, stay on it until your vehicle has come to a complete stop. Signal and check your mirrors before pulling back onto the road.


So right away, I figured I could throw out answer B. But I thought A and C were both true. Now, this test had a few grammar errors and missing words in a couple previous questions, so I figured answer B was a typo since A and C were true. I thought answer B was supposed to read "don't use your brakes until 20 mph" and simply had a missing word.This was not the case. If you look closely, the question is worded with "if possible." They were looking for "Keep one set of wheels on the road" since it is prefaced by "if possible" in the CDL Study Guide. So, it's true that you should stay on the shoulder if you can safely come to a stop by doing so, but for some reason, that wasn't included in the "if possible" response they were looking for (it doesn't specifically say "if possible" in the Study Guide for that). In reality, if this was the actual CDL exam, I would have guessed between A and C. I obviously wouldn't expect any grammatical errors on the actual CDL test. So, I'm not too happy with myself for not knowing that one. If this was an actual exam, I still would have guessed between two answers giving myself a 50/50 shot. Those aren't odds I want to play with on the actual exam.But missing 1 out of 50 isn't bad! I tied one other guy for best in the class! Sweet!

For those of you who are following along in the Illinois CDL Study Guide, today we covered only one chapter - Air Brakes. Prior to starting class, I already read through the CDL Study Guide and spent a lot of time on the air breaks section. After simply reading it, I came away with a decent general knowledge, but wasn't too confident in it. Man, after today, I feel much better! Everything sort of fell into place today, especially this afternoon. We did the usual reading out of the book, watched some videos, then took a quick field trip out to one of the trucks! My instructor wanted to show us first hand what the brake drums, air compressor, air tanks, etc. looked like. Then he took us inside the truck! Oh man, the feeling of hopping in there was fantastic! He showed us theair supply pressure gauges, forced the air pressure down so we could see and hear the low pressure warnings (by rapidly pumping the brake pedal until the pressure got down to just over 60 psi), forced the emergency brakes to automatically engage (right around 30 psi), and a few other things that he was able to show us first hand. It was so hard being in that truck without moving anywhere. I wanted to drive!!!

In any case, after watching the videos, reading through the section with my classmates, quality instruction from the instructor, and seeing first hand what the brake system is like on the truck, everything really came together for me today. Actually, now that I look back on it, it's really quite simple! We took a 25 question test on the air brakes right when we got done with the chapter and I got 3 wrong. Ouch. Luckily, I was once again tied for best in the class on that test. But my instructor wasn't too happy with the results.We reviewed all of the questions we got wrong and for some reason, that's when it really started to click for me. At the end of the day, we took another test on the air brakes. I finally got a 100%!! It's about damn time!

So I've studied real hard today in preparation of a test tomorrow morning. I really want to score 100% on the practice test tomorrow. I also want to be well prepared to study the "Combination Vehicles" section tomorrow. Remember, my actual exam is on Friday at about noon. That means I only have one more evening of studying left! So I'm trying to get as much studying down as I can each night. I guess the "Combination Vehicles" section is the section that gives the most problems. I'm not sure if it's simply because it's the newest info before the exam or if it's because it's harder. But regardless, I want to be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to that section tomorrow evening.

Overall, I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll pass the exam and do well. Of course, I still have some butterflies, but I'm sure I'll do fine.

So wish me luck! I may not be able to sit down tomorrow evening (Thursday) and write a post as I'm going to want to spend as much time studying as I can for my exam on Friday. But I'll be sure to get a post up on Friday after I'm done taking the exam and get you all caught up. The post should show up on the site either Friday evening or sometime during the day on Saturday. Hopefully I'll have good news for you all!

Clear the streets, get your kids indoors, and fire up the air raid sirens (truck raid sirens?). I may be driving a freakin' semi on Monday! There's a scary thought!

Until next time, drive safely!

Trucker Mike


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.

Combination Vehicle:

A vehicle with two separate parts - the power unit (tractor) and the trailer. Tractor-trailers are considered combination vehicles.


Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.


Operating While Intoxicated


When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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