Tips on Passing your CDL Exam
You’ve driven a car, a motorcycle, or maybe a moving truck. Driving a transport is different. Much different. Remember back to those early days, likely in your teens, when you took that first test. You probably studied a manual, took a driver’s education course, learned the details, and prepared for the road.
Now, as you consider driving a transport truck and making your way as a truck driver, it’s time to do it all over again. Stretching close to 80 feet in length, driving and maneuvering a transport takes great skill and attention to your surroundings. And of course, there’s the safety aspect of pre-trip inspections.
As you get ready to embark on a new career in trucking, let’s look at some tips to get you ready to pass the tests.
It sounds obvious but some people think they will retain enough information to get by. Getting by isn’t enough when it comes to truck driving. Too much is at stake.
Set a routine time each day to review a portion of the material. Go online and watch truck training videos. Some states and Canadian provinces offer sample written exams online giving you a chance to practice ahead of time.
Since you’ve practiced the written test, also practice behind the wheel. Accept every opportunity to get into the seat of your rig. If your school offers extra time, find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. Remember to practice all the skills you’ve learned, not only the skills of the week. When it comes time for the practical exam you will need to know—and demonstrate—everything. Commit to practice and remain positive even in the face of challenges.
The Practical Exam
1. Know Your Truck
Be sure that you know your truck. The evaluator is watching everything you do from shifting gears to adjusting your vents. Your familiarity with the cab of your truck will support your impression on the evaluator; you don’t want to be seen fumbling with the controls.
2. Watch the Signs
Signs, signs, everywhere signs. Street signs. Maximum height signs. Low bridge signs. Speed signs. Town signs. You name it, there’s a sign for it. Evaluators may ask about signs, particularly maximum weight and height signs. Get into the practice of noticing these signs and be prepared to answer with confidence.
3. Check Your Speed
Don’t let your truck get away from you. It’s vital that you exercise care and control over your vehicle at all times and the best way is by controlling your speed. Maintain a safe speed at all times, and sometimes that means going slower than the posted speed limit in congested areas or in areas less frequented by transport trucks.
4. Use Your Mirrors
Mirror use is vital to the safety of you, your truck, and those around you. Taking a mere glance won’t be sufficient during the test, not on the road during the course of your career. Make your mirror checks obvious by noticeably turning your head to ensure the evaluator sees your checks.
Informing other motorists of your intentions is the purpose of your signals. Be sure to use them on every turn, lane change, and merge. Failure to do so puts you and the other motorists are a greater risk.
6. Smooth Braking
Demonstrating your ability to maintain smooth braking shows the evaluator that you have care, control, and confidence in your skills. Hard braking or braking too late shows that you are not familiar with the vehicle and its handling.
7. Stay Calm
Through it all, remain calm. This is what you’ve been practicing for. All the hours of studying and hard work will pay off as long as you apply everything that you’ve learned.
Once you’ve passed your road exam get out there and take in all that this career has to offer. And remember, practice safety, always.