Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers: The Road Test


A road test, or its equivalent, is required before a motor carrier can allow a driver to operate one of its commercial motor vehicles. This most fundamental of the road test requirements, which seek to determine whether the candidate is able to perform basic operations and maneuvers in a commercial vehicle, may well be overlooked, especially by smaller motor carriers.

Road Test Requirements

A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless:

1. The test must be administered by the motor carrier or a person designated by it. A driver cannot give him or herself a road test. Notably, there is no requirement the test be given by a person possessing a CDL of their own. The examiner need only be “competent to evaluate” the candidate “and determine whether the person who takes the test has demonstrated that he/she is capable of operating a commercial motor vehicle, and associated equipment, that the motor carrier intends to assign him/her.”

2. The test must evaluate the skill of the person at performing certain operations using the type of CMV the motor carrier intends to assign. Naturally, a driver who will be assigned a 53-foot semi-trailer should not be road tested using a 28-foot straight truck.

Specific Operations That Must Be Tested

1. The pre-trip inspection

2. Coupling and uncoupling of combination units (if the equipment the driver will be assigned includes them)

3. Placing the CMV in operation

4. Using controls and “emergency equipment”

5. Driving and passing in traffic

6. Turning

7. Braking and slowing by means other than braking

8. Backing and parking

The motor carrier is also required to use a form that allows for the driver’s performance to be rated at each component of the test. After the form is completed, the examiner must sign it. If successful, the examiner should issue a certificate of road test is issued on a form as prescribed by the regulations. A copy of both the test form and the certificate is then given to the driver and another copy is to be kept in the DQ file.

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