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What's Included In the CDL Skills Test (Road Test)?

So, you’re considering or in the process of getting your commercial driver's license (CDL) and wondering what’s included in the skills test portion of the exam. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get you acquainted by discussing the three primary parts of your skills test in detail:

  1. Pre-Trip Inspection

  2. Basic Vehicle Control Skills

  3. On-Road Driving

Pre-Trip Inspection

First up is your pre-trip inspection! This segment of the skills test assesses your familiarity with the vehicle's components, ensuring you can identify any potential safety hazards or mechanical issues. Inspecting key aspects such as tires, lights, brakes, coupling devices, and more, the driver must exhibit a thorough understanding of maintaining a safe and roadworthy commercial vehicle. Lucky for you, we’ve created a pre-trip inspection checklist to utilize once you are licensed and operating. Be sure to study your state’s CDL manual for more information regarding pre-trip inspections. You’re on a lucky streak because we also have a CDL Manual Directory which will lead you to your state’s CDL manual.

This portion of the exam can vary between 30 minutes to 2 hours, and it is recommended that you create and stick to a sequence of inspection steps. For example, some drivers may always start on the passenger side of the engine compartment then work their way to the driver side, close the hood, and work around the outside of the truck in a counterclockwise direction.

Basic Vehicle Control Skills

The second portion of the skills test includes a basic vehicle control skills test. This evaluates your aptitude in maneuvering the commercial vehicle effectively. Here, the examiner will assess the driver's skills in performing basic control maneuvers, including:

  • Straight Line Backing: Candidates are required to reverse the truck in a straight line for a specified distance, displaying control over the vehicle's steering and braking systems.

  • Offset Back/Right or Left: This segment tests the driver's ability to maneuver the truck into a confined space back and to the right or left of the vehicle, simulating situations commonly encountered in loading docks.

  • Alley Dock: Drivers may be asked to sight-side back their vehicle into an alley. The vehicle must be straight within the alley/lane when the maneuver is completed.

  • Parallel Parking: Candidates must parallel park the commercial vehicle accurately and safely, exhibiting their skill in gauging distances and controlling the vehicle's positioning.

  • Right/Left Turns: The examiner assesses the driver's proficiency in making safe and smooth turns, considering the proper use of mirrors, turn signals, and lane positioning.

Please note that these categories can vary by state.

On-Road Driving

The last portion of the exam includes the on-road driving test. This is the most critical segment of the CDL road test (no pressure!). You are expected to demonstrate your ability to navigate various traffic situations while adhering to traffic laws and maintaining vehicle control. Key aspects evaluated during this segment include:

  • Vehicle Operation: Candidates must display a solid grasp of vehicle controls, including steering, acceleration, and braking. Smooth gear shifting and effective use of mirrors are also essential.

  • Lane Usage and Positioning: Drivers should maintain appropriate lane positioning and be capable of changing lanes safely when necessary, while effectively signaling their intentions.

  • Traffic Awareness: Prospective truck drivers must exhibit a keen sense of situational awareness, consistently monitoring their surroundings, and anticipating potential hazards.

  • Intersections and Right-of-Way: The examiner evaluates the candidate's understanding of traffic rules at intersections, including yielding, right-of-way, and appropriate use of signals.

  • Speed Management: Demonstrating responsible speed management is crucial. Candidates should adapt their speed to match road conditions while maintaining a safe and steady pace.

Additional areas worth mentioning are turns, urban business areas, lane changes, stop/start, curves, railroad crossing, bridges, brake usage, gear usage, steering, and much more (again, READ YOUR STATE’S CDL MANUAL, which you can find HERE).


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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC - Copyright 2023 - does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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