Preforming a pre-trip inspection on a truck

How to Pass Your CDL Road Test

So, you’ve decided to pursue a career in trucking. Good decision. Hitting the open road, visiting different places, working alone, or being your own boss are just a few reasons many have pursued CDL driver jobs. However, long before you embark on this rewarding career, you must first pass your CDL road test.

What Is CDL?

CDL is an abbreviation for a commercial driver’s license, and you can pursue different types or classes of CDL during your career. These types are commonly referred to as endorsements.

Each CDL endorsement allows you to transport different freight, increasing your earnings and making you a must-have resource for freight and logistics employers. Aside from providing job security, getting multiple CDL endorsements will help you become an owner-operator, allowing you to decide which freight jobs to pursue.

Tips on Preparing for the Test

Before taking your CDL test, you must secure a Commercial Learner’s Permit (CLP), which allows you to practice driving trucks at a professional driving school. Once you have your CLP and some first-hand driving experience, it’s time to prepare for your CDL test. Here is a list of tips to ensure you pass your CDL driving test on the first try.

1. Practice Driving Maneuvers

You need to become proficient at six truck-driving maneuvers because they are part of the test. The first is straight-line backing, which is a fancy way of saying backing up and moving forward in a straight line. The second and third are offset parking either to the right or left. The third and fourth are parallel parking, either on the driver’s (conventional) or passenger’s side (site-side). Finally, there’s alley docking, where you practice taking an angled turn to load or unload the cargo you’re transporting.

2. Study Your CDL Manual

A common mistake is to focus entirely on driving to the detriment of studying and thoroughly understanding the CDL manual. This critical manual provides insight into performing pre-trip inspections, planning routes, and accounting for potential delays and inclement weather.

3. Understand the Rules of the Road

Part of understanding the rules of the road comes from how often you practice driving and how much you study your CDL manual, but another part comes down to asking. Yes, asking experienced drivers to provide you with insight into their experiences on the road is always a good idea. You’ll glean fantastic information on what to watch out for, how to pay attention to your surroundings, how to prepare for the unforeseen, and how best to handle the most common problems encountered by truck drivers.

4. Remain Calm & Stay Committed

It’s common for people to become anxious or nervous when taking their CDL road test. When things don’t work out, they blame others, like the test instructor. Don’t do this. If you’re nervous or anxious, remember your training. Remember how often you’ve practiced the maneuvers and how much you’ve studied.

Take your time. This is not a race. You alone determine how successful you are. Most importantly, remind yourself that the test instructor isn’t there to fail you. They want to see you succeed, so it’s all in your hands.

What to Expect on the Day Of Your Test

Truck Driver Checklist for CDL Test

Your CDL test will include an inspection, a control skills test, and a highway driving road test. If you’re taking your CDL test in Michigan, you can use the Vehicle Inspection Memory Aid in Michigan’s CDL manual.

The instructor will ask you to inspect specific portions or parts of the engine area, followed by an engine start and cab check. After you turn off the engine, you’ll be asked to inspect the exterior lights and different portions of the truck and cargo.

During the driving portion of the test, you’ll be asked to perform the six maneuvers mentioned above, in addition to turns, lane changes, and highway driving. The instructor will never ask you to do anything illegal or unsafe. Remember that the instructor will complete a form during the test, so stay focused on your driving and the instructions they’re giving you.

Take the Next Step With TSI

Remember, do everything you can to be ready for the CDL road test. Practice the six maneuvers and know your CDL manual in and out. Once you’ve passed your CDL road test, you’ll be well on your way to capitalizing on the many opportunities it provides.If you already have your permit and need driving experience, join TSI’s hands-on, six-week training program for new drivers. We’ve been providing comprehensive training experiences and opportunities for new drivers for over four decades. Let us help you jumpstart your career in the transportation industry!