Passing a written exam, a road test, and a physical exam are usually required to obtain a truck driver’s license. This ensures that all truck drivers have the same level of knowledge and understanding of the rules of the road. The requirements for a truck driver’s license may differ depending on the size of the truck, van, or bus being driven. Local and regional needs can also differ.
A regular driver’s license may be the only requirement for small vans or trucks transporting non-hazardous materials. Drivers of trucks that haul more than 26,000 pounds (11,793.4 kg) — such as an 18-wheeler — and all trucks transporting hazardous materials will almost certainly need a special license. The special license required for truck drivers in the United States and Canada, for example, is known as a Commercial Driver License (CDL).
Studying online, at a trade school, or a combination of both can help you prepare for the written portion of the CDL exam. CDL exam preparation courses and practice exams are also available online, both for a fee and for free. Trucking companies that are hiring may also provide free training to potential drivers. Checking your truck to make sure it’s in good working order, safety, and securing and stowing cargo are all topics covered on the written portion of the exam. Other skills tested include shifting gears, maintaining a safe speed, keeping an eye out for hazards, dealing with “road rage” or aggressive drivers, adjusting to various weather conditions, and following proper accident procedures.
During the driving portion of the exam, an exam proctor will give the driver a score based on how well they followed all safety procedures and obeyed all traffic signs. The road test will be failed if there is a traffic violation or an accident. Before taking the road test, you must have on-the-road truck driving experience. This can be provided a trucking school or a seasoned truck driver willing to mentor the new driver. To obtain a truck driver license, a driver must pass both portions of the CDL exam, just as they must for a car license.
A physical exam and a review of the driver’s medical history may be required in addition to testing in order to obtain a truck driver license. The test determines whether a driver is physically capable of sitting and driving for long periods of time. It can also determine whether any existing conditions pose a risk to the driver or other drivers. In order to obtain and maintain a truck driver’s license, drug and alcohol testing may be required. Substance abuse can result in a license being denied or driving privileges being revoked, depending on laws and employer policies.