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CDL Test Notes

CDL Written Test Notes: prepared July 2009 by Roger Wright 937 605 1061


I. Introduction

A. Drivers who must have CDL

1. single vehicle with gross vehicle weight (GVW) of over 26,000 lbs.

2. trailer with GVW over 10,000 lbs. IF GVW with power unit is over 26,000 lbs.

3. vehicle with 16 or more person capacity

4. any vehicle used to transport hazard materials (haz mat)

B. How to Get CDL

1. pass knowledge test

2. pass driver test (skills test)

a. pre-trip inspection

b. basic vehicle control (maneuver in parking areas)

c. on-road test

* C. Disqualifications or Ways to Lose CDL

1. blood alcohol more than 0.04% (one year suspension)

2. refuse to blood alcohol test (one year)

3. driving under influence of controlled substance or alcohol (one year)

4. leaving the scene of an accident (one year)

5. felony while operating a commercial vehicle (one year)

6. felony while operating a commercial vehicle with haz mat (three years)

7. lose CDL for 24 hours if operating commercial vehicle with blood alcohol of less than 0.04%

8. lose CDL for 60 days with two serious traffic in-service violations within three years

9. minimum CDL suspension of 120 days for three out-of-service violations in a ten years

10. minimum of 120 day suspension for three in-service violations within three years

11. at least 60 day suspension for first railroad-highway violation

12. at least 120 day suspension for second railroad-highway violation within three years

13. at least one year suspension for third railroad-highway violation within three years

a. not stopping before crossing line at railroad with a hazmat load

b. not stopping at railroad before crossing line if tracks are not clear

c. if not required to stop, failure to slow down before crossing railroad tracks

d. having to stop ON the railroad tracks

e. disobey traffic control device at railroad crossing

f. bellying-out on railroad crossing and getting stuck on tracks

D. Other rules

1. not more than one driver's license ($5,000 fine)

2. notify employer within 30 days of conviction for traffic violation

3. notify you state BMV if convicted of traffic violation in another jurisdiction (except parking)

4. notify employer if license suspended, revoked, canceled or otherwise lose CDL

5. give employer or potential employer list of all driving jobs for past ten years


II. Pre-trip Inspection

A. Overview

1. do the same way every time

2. observe general condition of vehicle as you approach it (wet on ground, broken glass, dents...)

3. review most recent post-trip report; verify by signing-off on repair report

4. lock brakes and/or chock wheels

B. Engine compartment

1. Check engine

a. oil, coolant, power steering fluid, windshield wiper washer fluid

b. air compressor pump, note the drive belt tension or drive gear housing for leaks & damage

c. if you can see them, suspension & steering systems (see below)

d. battery caps, holder, cables and acid if in engine compartment

e. transmission fluid

f. belts for tension and wear, hoses, clamps, connections, wiring to be secure, wear, rubbing...

g. steering column, gear box, etc.

h. close hood

C. Start engine after checking parking brake is on and in neutral

1. Observe oil pressure normal rise within a few seconds

2. Idiot lights go out, buzzers off

3. Listen for problems

4. Air pressure 50 to 90 lbs psi within three minutes

5. Amp/volt meter normal

6. Normal rise in coolant temperature and engine oil

7. Check controls for looseness, sticking, damage, improper setting

a. steering wheel no more 10 degrees slop (2 inches on a 20 inch wheel)

b. clutch

c. accelerator

d. brake foot, parking, trailer, retarder

e. transmission

f. inter axel controls

g. wipers and fluid pump

h. horn

i. turn on:

- head & tail lights

- flashers

- both right and left turn signals

- four way parking

8. Check mirrors, windshield, windows for:

a. cracks

b. dirt

c. illegal stickers

d. sight obstructions

9. Check emergency equipment

a. spare fuses (unless have circuit breakers)

* b. three red reflective triangles

c. fire extinguishers properly charged and rated

d. tools (tire changing and tire chains optional)

e. emergency phone numbers

f. accident reporting kit

10. Turn off engine

a. check low brake air pressure warning system from fully pressurized system

- release parking brake & time air pressure drop

* - loose less than 2 psi per min for single vehicles & less than 3 psi per min for combinations

b. set parking brake

c. take key with you

d. headlights on low beam & 4 way flashers on

D. Walk Around Inspection

1. Front: first check

a. head light low beams

b. flashers flashing

c. push dimmer switch, check high beams

d. turn off head lights and four-way flashers

e. turn-on parking, clearance, side-marker, right turn signal and id lights

f. resume walk-around inspection have rag to clean all lights & reflectors as you go

2. Left front side

a. driver's door latch, window clean

b. wheels & rims not bent, out of alignment, cracked, welded; wrench check rust streaked lugs

c. hub oil seal, no leaks

d. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding) securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- front axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

e. steering (must grab to check for slop) drag link, pitman arm, steering arm, tie rods, etc. and

that all are properly attached at both ends

f. brakes

- drums; no oil or grease on drum, no cracks more than half way across friction area, too thin

- hoses and lines, secure at both ends, no leaks

* - pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

g. tires

- steers no less than 4/32 of an inch of tread; no recapped tires on steers

- all others no less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- no cuts, cracks, cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

h. if cab over check cab locks, latches, etc; check hood latches on conventional tractor

3. Front end: second check

a. windshield clean, not damage, free of sight obstructions

b. wiper blades proper tension, rubber soft, not damage edges, secure blades

c. parking lights on, clearance lights on, id lights on, clean, and amber color

d. reflectors amber and clean

e. right turn signal flashing and facing forward

4. Right front side

a. passenger door latch, hinges, window clean

b. wheels & rims not bent, cracked, or excessive rust; wrench check rust streaked lugs

c. check hub oil seal for leaks

d. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding), securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- front axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

f. brakes

- drum; no oil or grease on drum, no excessive ( 50% of friction area) cracks or wear

- hoses and lines, no leaks

- pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

g. tires

- steers no less than 4/32 of an inch of tread

- all others no less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- no cuts, cracks, cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

h . fuel tank

- secure support brackets, cap secure, etc.

- not damaged

- no leaks

- fuel in tank

i. cat-walk & step securely fastened, not damage, clean

5. Right rear of cab

a. no leaks on engine, transmission, brake lines, air lines, etc.

* b. exhaust system

- brackets secure

- no leaks or cracks (black carbon deposits indicate leak)

- not rubbing anything to make a hole or break support straps

c. frame good condition, lines attached to frame not rubbing or crushed

- cross members same

d. spare tire rack secure, check tire for pressure

6. Cargo

a. blocked, braced, tied down

b. header board adequate for load

c. side boards slots solid, not damaged, secure to attach cargo tie-down straps

7. Right side rear

a. wheels & rims not cracked, bent, cracked; wrench check rust streaked lugs

b. check hub oil seal, no leaks

c. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding), securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- front axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

- torque rod secure at both ends, not bent or cracked

d. brakes

- drum; no oil or grease on drum, no excessive cracks or wear

- hoses and lines secure at both ends, no leaks

* - pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

e. tires

- not less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- no cuts, cracks, cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

8. Rear End

a. lights & reflectors clean, not damaged, proper color (red)

b. license plate visible, securely fastened

c. splash guards present, not damaged, not dragging ground, not rubbing tires

9. Left rear side

a. wheels & rims not bent, cracked; wrench check rusty lugs

b. check hub oil seal for no leaks

c. suspension check:

-axel not bent, cracked

-shock absorber securely attached at both ends, not bent or leaking fluid

- main & auxiliary leaf spring, broken (not more than one fourth missing, none protruding), securely attached at both ends

- spring shackle not cracked or broken

- torque rod securely attached at both ends, not bent or cracked

- bearing plates not cracked, bolts tight

- axel hanger not cracked, properly mounted

- U-bolts not cracked, bolts tight

- if no leaf springs, air bags have no tears, leaks, secure at top & bottom to control arm

- control arm secure at both ends (air bag & frame) U-bolts to axel, no cracks, nuts tight

- bearing plates, bolts tight, not cracked

d. brakes

- drum; no oil or grease on drum, no excessive cracks, excessive wear

- hoses and lines secure at both ends, no leaks

- pull hard on slack adjusters on S-cam brakes with parking brake off (chocked)

- if moves more than an inch where it connects to the push rod, it needs adjusted

e. tires

- not less than 2/32 of an inch of tread

- cuts, cracks, no cloth or steel showing

- check pressure with gauge or mallet

10. Left rear cab

a. no leaks on engine, transmission, brake lines, air lines, etc.

b. exhaust system

- brackets secure

- no leaks or cracks

- not rubbing anything

c. frame good condition, lines attached to frame not rubbing, crushed

- cross members same

d. spare tire rack secure, check tire

e. check signal & id lights operational, reflectors in good condition and clean

f. if battery compartment on left side, check as described previously

E. Complete light check

1. turn off signal lights & stop lights

2. apply trailer brakes

3. turn on left blinker

4. get out of cab and check left blinkers

5. get in cab

- turn off lights not needed for driving

- check for required papers (permits, manifest, maps, load numbers, log book, etc.)

- secure items in cab

F. Final checks

A. start engine

* B. test hydraulic brakes by three pumps and hold pressure for five seconds

C. fasten seat belt

D. test parking brake by rolling slightly and applying parking brake

* E. test service brakes by moving 5 mph and firmly apply service brakes

1. note for pull to side or delayed engagement

G. During & After Trip Inspections

* 1. inspect cargo first 50 miles and then every 150 miles or three hours, which ever comes first

2. complete post trip inspection report

a. place a copy in cab for next driver to review


III. Driving

A. backing

* 1. avoid backing if at all possible; plan ahead (backing is always dangerous!!!)

2. start in proper position

3. use a helper if possible

4. use both side mirrors, go slow

5. turn to driver's side if possible, get out and look if necessary

B. double clutch when shifting gears

* 1. consider RPM or MPH to decide when to shift

C. when going down hill...

1. on pre 1996 trucks, use same gear to go down a hill as you did coming up

2. on post 1996 trucks, use one gear lower going down then you used coming up

3. know if your truck has a retarder and which type:

a. exhaust

b. engine c. hydraulic

d. electric

4. softly apply brakes when reach max safe down hill speed

* a. hold brakes softly until 5 MPH below max safe speed, release brakes

b. repeat as necessary when speed returns to maximum safe downhill speed

* 5. evaluate down hill grades by:

a. length

b. steepness

c. road conditions

d. your weight

e. traffic flow

f . safety ramps

D. looking ahead, safe clearance

* 1. look 12 to 15 seconds ahead

* 2. stopping distance = perception distance + reaction distance + braking distance

a. ¾ second + ¾ second + 4 ½ seconds on good road with good brakes at 55 MPH

* b. thus, 55 MPH takes 6 seconds to stop; 7 seconds to stop at 60 MPH

* c. empty truck takes more distance to stop than loaded truck

3. doubling your speed takes four times more distance to stop

* E. Signal your intentions

1. signal early

2. signal continuously

3. cancel signal when maneuver is complete

4. tap brakes lightly when you need to slow down, but not expected to stop immediately

* F. Slippery conditions are likely at:

1. shaded areas

2. bridges

3. melting ice