If you are wanting to get a Commercial Drivers License, you must first be eligible for such a license in your state. This means that you must have a valid drivers license, and be at least eighteen years of age (21 to drive across state lines).
Next, you will need to get a commercial drivers instruction permit. You cannot practice operating a vehicle with air brakes or a tractor-trailer with a standard drivers license.
To get your CDIP, you will be required to take a written exam. It will be very similar to the test that you took to get your regular learner’s permit, except that the questions are geared specifically toward the operation of commercial vehicles.
The State Commercial Drivers License Manual
You can go to your local DMV to obtain a copy of the manual or handbook for commercial drivers licenses, or you may be able to download it online. All of the questions on the test will come directly from this guide. There won’t be any trick questions.
The CDL permit exam will include questions on many of these topics:
- Railroad crossings
- Skid control and recovery
- Braking and the different types of brakes on commercial vehicles
- Accident protocols
- Driving at night
- Driving in adverse weather conditions
- Drinking and driving
- How to spot and/or anticipate road hazards
- Vehicle inspection
- Communicating with other motorists
- Basic controls of your vehicle, including shifting gears
- The dangers of distracted or impaired driving
- Managing proper spacing between you and other vehicles and controlling your speed
Study and Practice
Once you are familiar with the information in the handbook, it would be good to take a practice test. This will give you an idea if you have a good grasp of the required curriculum, and what to expect on the actual exam.
There may be a practice test in the back of the CDL manual or on the DMV website. If there isn’t, search online for a practice test offered by an independent company. These will allow you to assess your readiness to take the real test. Take as many as you need, and when you’ve passed several in a row, head down to the DMV and get ready to hit the road!