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cdl driving test
Passing the CDL Driving test is one of the first steps to success in a trucking career. If you’ve recently passed the test, you know the relief, pride, and satisfaction that comes with getting that license. Truck driving can be a great career, and if you’re thinking about becoming a driver, the CDL driving test is one of your next steps. Here’s what you need to know to pass the test with flying colors. 

Study Up!

The CDL test is a little different based on what state you are in. Make sure you get a copy of the study guide from the state where you’ll be taking the licensing test. Set a study schedule for yourself. Choose a target date to take the test and then spend a little time studying every day. Be realistic in the date you choose. You’ll want to be fresh for the test and stay motivated, so choose something relatively close. That said, make sure you give yourself enough time to properly study. It only adds time if you have to take the test twice.  

Once you get to know the material, start taking practice tests. Many states offer free practice tests on their website. There are also third-party sites like Trucker Country that allow practice tests. Drivers can take a generalized test for a CDL license or practice tests that are for a specific endorsement. These practice tests are a great way to test your knowledge and find any areas that need more studying. 

Make an effort to practice the driving portion of the test as well. If you are training through a CDL school, ask plenty of questions and put your learning into practice whenever possible.

New CDL Driver, Brittany

New CDL Driver, Brittany

We spoke with new CDL driver Brittany, and she shared this advice: 

“If they’re going to school, be out there every day doing Pre-trip and maneuvers and stay focused. Ask all the questions because that’s what instructors are for. No question is a dumb question and don’t be nervous on test day. All the practices will flow long as they’ve put in the work before test day.”

Passing a CDL test isn’t easy, but if you put in the work, you’ll be on your way to a trucking job in no time.

Demonstrate Technical Expertise

When you are ready to take the practical element CDL driving test, it’s time to show off your skills. First and foremost, make sure you know the truck. The last thing you want is to make a simple air vent adjustment and be fumbling with the buttons. With the evaluator watching, even routine adjustments can feel like they have a lot of pressure. Know the inside of the cab like the back of your hand. 

There are a few skills on the driving test that you have to get right in order to pass. Train yourself early to pay attention to these details!

Like knowing the inside of your cab, there are a few skills that you absolutely have to get right to pass the CDL driving test. Some of them are obvious — don’t stall and no shifting at intersections. Others are skills that you may need to be more conscious about. For example, it’s very important to use proper exit and entry techniques when you are getting in and out of the truck. Similarly, train yourself to notice weight limit signs as you’re driving. An examiner may ask you about a posted weight limit sign shortly after you’ve passed it. You need to know what it said. Any time you are driving, even in a personal vehicle, try to notice details on the road like weight limit signs. 

Make the Basics Obvious

cdl truckWhen you take the CDL driving test, it’s easy to focus on the things that will be challenging, but don’t forget the basics. These are the things that are probably almost second nature to you, and you do them any time you drive. Keep two hands on the wheel. Check your mirrors and scan regularly. Signal all lane changes. Keep an eye out for speed limit signs and make sure you’re driving a few miles per hour under the speed limit. All of these are common sense basics, but make a point to make these obvious when you take your licensing test. 

Beyond Driving Skills

yellow semi truckThe CDL driving test is a big step toward a driving career. It’s common to be nervous before the test. That’s why you practice beforehand — so that the information and skills are second nature when you take the test. Make sure you know the automatic failure points so you can avoid them, but set your sights higher. Don’t focus on just barely passing. When you are in the cab with the evaluator, remember to stick to your purpose. You’re not in the cab to make friends, so don’t get too chatty. Some evaluators may consider this distracted driving. 

Above all, stay calm even if you make mistakes. You will likely encounter at least one small unexpected surprise while doing the CDL driving test. Take in the new information and keep moving forward. If you made a mistake, fix it for the next time. A calm personality and the ability to respond well to unexpected changes are key for drivers. Demonstrating that skill in a road test will impress your evaluator and give them confidence in your ability to be on the road professionally

truck driver at loading dock

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Ever wonder if your brakes are safe enough for your trip? Getting brakes inspected regularly and practicing braking system safety extends their life. In addition, it ensures the safety of people with CDL trucking jobs, states a CCJ article from Feb. 11.

In the article, writer Jason Cannon writes about the importance of brake inspection. They also say technological leaps in braking systems are only as good as their upkeep.

“It is critical [brakes] are kept within their adjustment spec, which will give the vehicle even and balanced braking for better control,” says George Bowers, director of maintenance operations, Ryder. “Proper brake inspection is more than just the ability to stop the vehicle. It is about vehicle control.”

Matthew Mendy, product segment manager, Daimler Trucks North America Aftermarket, says fleets can actually lower their cost-of-operation by having brake maintenance procedures meet all industry standards and state and federal regulations.

Brake violations were one of the three most cited violations in the past 5 years. In his article, Cannon reiterates the importance of routinely checking your brakes.

A driver’s pre- and post-trip inspections are critical parts to identifying issues before violations occur. Rust streaks; air leaks; oil stains; worn, missing, broken or loose brake components; air lines rubbing on cross members or frame rails and/or bad or missing glad-hand seals are all obvious red flags every driver should be on the lookout for.

Routine brake inspections will not only keep you safe, but will also extend the life of the brake system itself.

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DogRescue_Oct172015_0437bA.rIn a quiet parking lot near a highway, nothing is happening. Then at 3 p.m. one Saturday, all that changes. Read the rest of the Boston Globe story here.

People start showing up. They’re waiting for their new rescue dogs, soon to be delivered by CDL driver Greg Mahle. Mahle’s story was recounted recently in the Boston Globe:

Mahle calls it “Gotcha Day”— the day his organization, Rescue Road Trips, delivers abandoned, unwanted, stray, or abused dogs from the Deep South to their new homes in the Northeast.

Mahle’s dog transport service is the subject of a new book by writer Peter Zheutlin, “Rescue Road: One Man, Thirty Thousand Dogs, and a Million Miles on the Last Hope Highway.”

Mahle, 53, has been making this 4,200-mile round trip twice a month for 10 years, the article states.

In 2005, after the last of five family restaurants he’d run had closed, Mahle’s sister called him. She ran a labrador retriever rescue organization, and she needed a driver. Mahle drove the dogs to Connecticut for her and saw an opportunity.

“There’s an ocean’s worth of dogs washing up on the shore,” said Mahle. “The sad fact is there are so many more dogs than there are homes.”

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Score bigWith Christmas coming upon us quickly, the holiday shopping season is here, whether we’re ready for it or not. It’s easy to feel stressed about all the people you have to buy for (and if you’re a CDL driver on the road often, it can be even more stressful). Unless you have the highest paying truck driver job, it can be easy to feel the pinch. The good news is, the holiday season offers some great deals. Stay ahead of the pack with these five tips. They’ll save you money and time.

Plan ahead. Many retailers start posting deals online ahead of time, and there are even mobile apps and websites dedicated to organizing special offers. Check them out before the holiday and start mapping out your plan of attack.

Shop in-person and online. Don’t limit yourself to shopping in-store. Many deals are also available exclusively online, so use the weekend to scope them out.

Set discount guidelines. Don’t fall victim to “door buster” sales that don’t offer that great of a deal. Make sure you’re getting the best savings by setting discount guidelines for yourself. For example, only look for sales where items are at least 40 percent off, ensuring higher savings.

Prioritize electronics. The holiday season is among the best times to purchase electronics. You can score great deals on top smartphones, whether you’re an Android or Apple fan.

Stay on budget with cash. Set a budget before you hit the stores, and shop with cash so you don’t get tempted to make impulse purchases. Once the cash is gone, you’re done shopping for the day — and can go take a well-deserved nap!

 

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Featured image from Google.com