Have you ever driven behind or next to a semi-truck in Alabama that is weaving, speeding or just following too close? It can be a scary experience because nobody wins against a truck that big, not even the truck driver. If the truck is hauling fuel or another hazardous material, the fear factor increases. It makes you wonder about the experience of the truck driver and whether you will be involved in or witness an accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration explains that federal law requires candidates to train for driving and pass tests of both knowledge (written) and skills (hands-on) to earn a commercial driver’s license. With three categories of CDL licenses and endorsements needed for each, you can choose whether to drive a passenger bus, tank truck or tractor-trailer.
Like any driver, you will need to obtain a commercial learner’s permit that requires a qualified CDL driver to ride with you, To be eligible, you must have a clean driving record; your record in all 50 states will be checked for the prior 10 years. You must also provide proof of being medically qualified for this type of work; many states require you to take a physical administered by the Dept. of Transportation.
After you have had the learner’s permit for 14 days, you are eligible to take the skills test. This will include maneuvering a truck in the manner described in the driver’s manual for your truck class. There are three parts of the skills test:
- Vehicle inspection
- Basic controls
- Road test
You must pass all three parts of the skills test to obtain your CDL. No matter how well you do on the road test, by itself it is not enough to get you a CDL. Drivers also must train and learn about handling special loads to earn endorsements for categories such as hazardous waste, school buses, tank vehicles and double/triple trailers.
Regardless of training and education, drivers must remain alert to behaviors and traffic conditions that can create safety issues while on the road. No amount of training can replace a sleep-deprived driver of any vehicle or one that is moving too fast for road conditions.
While this information about driver training is informative, it should not be taken as legal advice.