WI_CDLManual
WISCONSIN COMMERCIAL
DRIVER’S MANUAL
VOLUME 1: General, Air
Brakes,Combination,
Doubles/TriplesPassenger Transport,
Tanker
March 2012
The original front cover (247 kb) for the Wisconsin Commercial Driver’s
Manual, Volume 1 is not included here in order to reduce the file size, so
you may download the handbook more quickly.
Information
Commercial Driver License (CDL) information . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.cdl.wi.gov
DMV home page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.wisconsindmv.gov
General Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (414) 266-1000
Schedule Skills Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/docs/tp3.pdf
Federal Web Information
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, Rules and Notices www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsrhome.htm
FMCS Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/factsfigs/forms.htm
FMCSA Important Web sites (FAQs for more Information) . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/factsfigs/postcardnu.htm
FMCSA Medical Advisory Criteria for Evaluation
Under 49 CFR Part 391.41 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/medical.htm
FMCSA Medical Reports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/medreports.htm
FMCSA Motor Carrier and Driver Laws . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/laws.htm
FMCSA Motor Carrier Safety Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetyprogs/saftprogs.htm
FMCSA Regulations: CDL Standards,
Requirements and Penalties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/regs/383.htm
FMCSA Regulations: Driving of Commercial Motor Vehicles . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/regs/392.htm
FMCSA Regulations: Qualifications of Drivers . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/regs/391.htm
FMCSA Regulations: Revised Hours of Service Regulations . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/Home_Files/revised_hos.asp
FMCSA Regulatory Guidance for the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/fmcsr/fmcsrguide.htm
Medical Exam Report Form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetyprogs/spe_pdfs/Medical_Report.pdf
Office of Hazardous Materials Safety
(HazMat Regulations and Interpretations) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.myregs.com/dotrspa/
Wisconsin State Web Information
Visit www.cdl.wi.gov for:
• CDL: How to apply
• Disqualifications
• Medical Requirements for CDL
• CDL: An overview
• Endorsements
• Motor Carriers and Trucking
• CDL pre-trip and Road Tests
• Federal Medical Certificate
(Fed Med) and your CDL
• Wisconsin Commercial
Driver’s Manual
• Hazardous Materials
• and more!
• Change Your Mailing Address
• Commercial Driving Schools
DMV home page . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.wisconsindmv.gov
DMV online services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/online.htm
Motor Carriers and Trucking information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.dot.wisconsin.gov/business/carriers/index.htm
Oversize/Overweight Permits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . www.dot.wisconsin.gov/business/carriers/osowgeneral.htm
Contents
Warnings and Penalties........................................................................................................................ 3
How to Use This Manual....................................................................................................................... 4
CMV and CDL Guide............................................................................................................................ 5
Commercial Driver License (CDL) – Overview..................................................................................... 6
Federal Medical Certificate and your Commercial Driver License (CDL)
– What you need to know....................................................................................................................... 7
Commercial Driver License Medical Requirements............................................................................. 8
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 49 CFR 391, Subpart E
– Physical Qualifications and Examinations.......................................................................................... 9
Chapter Trans 327 Motor Carrier Safety Frequently Asked Questions.........................................10–11
Wisconsin General CDL Disqualifications.....................................................................................12–14
Division of State Patrol Regions Map................................................................................................. 15
PART ONE
Section 1
1.1
1.2
1.3
Introduction........................................................................................................................... 1:1
Commercial Driver License Tests............................................................................................1:1
Other CDL Rules......................................................................................................................1:1
Wisconsin CDL........................................................................................................................ 1:2
Section 2 Driving Safely........................................................................................................................ 2:1
2.1 Vehicle Inspection....................................................................................................................2:1
2.2 Basic Control of Your Vehicle...................................................................................................2:7
2.3 Shifting Gears......................................................................................................................... 2:8
2.4Seeing..................................................................................................................................... 2:9
2.5Communicating....................................................................................................................... 2:9
2.6 Controlling Speed...................................................................................................................2:11
2.7 Managing Space....................................................................................................................2:12
2.8 Seeing Hazards..................................................................................................................... 2:16
2.9 Distracted Driving.................................................................................................................. 2:18
2.10 Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage............................................................................................. 2:19
2.11 Driving at Night...................................................................................................................... 2:20
2.12 Driving in Fog.........................................................................................................................2:21
2.13 Driving in Winter.....................................................................................................................2:21
2.14 Driving in Very Hot Weather.................................................................................................. 2:22
2.15 Railroad Highway Crossings................................................................................................. 2:23
2.16 Mountain Driving................................................................................................................... 2:24
2.17 Driving Emergencies............................................................................................................. 2:26
2.18 Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) .......................................................................................... 2:27
2.19 Skid Control and Recovery................................................................................................... 2:29
2.20 Accident Procedures............................................................................................................. 2:30
2.21Fires....................................................................................................................................... 2:30
2.22 Staying Alert and Fit to Drive.................................................................................................2:31
2.23 Hazardous Materials Rules for All Commercial Drivers....................................................... 2:33
Section 3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
Transporting Cargo Safely................................................................................................... 3:1
Inspecting Cargo......................................................................................................................3:1
Weight and Balance.................................................................................................................3:1
Securing Cargo....................................................................................................................... 3:2
Other Cargo Needing Special Attention.................................................................................. 3:3
page 1
PART TWO
Section 4
4.1
4.2
4.3
4.4
4.5
4.6
Transporting Passengers..................................................................................................... 4:1
Pre-trip Inspection....................................................................................................................4:1
Loading and Trip Start..............................................................................................................4:1
On the Road............................................................................................................................ 4:2
After-Trip Vehicle Inspection................................................................................................... 4:3
Prohibited Practices................................................................................................................ 4:3
Use of Brake-Door Interlocks.................................................................................................. 4:3
Section 5
5.1
5.2
5.3
5.4
Air Brakes.............................................................................................................................. 5:1
The Parts of an Air Brake System............................................................................................5:1
Dual Air Brakes....................................................................................................................... 5:4
Inspecting Air Brake Systems................................................................................................. 5:4
Using Air Brakes...................................................................................................................... 5:5
Section 6
6.1
6.2
6.3
6.4
6.5
Combination Vehicles.......................................................................................................... 6:1
Driving Combination Vehicles Safely.......................................................................................6:1
Combination Vehicle Air Brakes.............................................................................................. 6:3
Antilock Brake Systems........................................................................................................... 6:5
Coupling and Uncoupling........................................................................................................ 6:5
Inspecting a Combination Vehicle........................................................................................... 6:8
Section 7
7.1
7.2
7.3
7.4
Doubles and Triples.............................................................................................................. 7:1
Pulling Double/Triple Trailers...................................................................................................7:1
Coupling and Uncoupling.........................................................................................................7:1
Inspecting Doubles and Triples............................................................................................... 7:3
Doubles/Triples Air Brake Check............................................................................................ 7:3
Section 8
8.1
8.2
8.3
Tank Vehicles......................................................................................................................... 8:1
Inspecting Tank Vehicles..........................................................................................................8:1
Driving Tank Vehicles...............................................................................................................8:1
Safe Driving Rules................................................................................................................... 8:2
Section 9
Hazardous Materials...........................................................................................See Volume 2
Section 10 School Bus...........................................................................................................See Volume 2
PART THREE
Section 11 Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Test.........................................................................................11:1
11.1 All Vehicles............................................................................................................................. 11:1
11.2 External Inspection (Passenger Bus/Truck/Tractor)..............................................................11:3
11.3 External Inspection (School Bus)...........................................................................See Volume 2
11.4Trailer......................................................................................................................................11:5
11.5 Coach/Transit Bus..................................................................................................................11:5
Section 12 Basic Vehicle Control Skills Test...................................................................................... 12:1
12.1Scoring...................................................................................................................................12:1
12.2Exercises................................................................................................................................12:1
Section 13 On Road Driving Test.......................................................................................................... 13:1
CDL Skills Test Guide......................................................................................................................13:1
page 2
Warnings and Penalties
WARNING
If you drive a vehicle over 10,000 lbs. in
interstate commerce, you may be subject
to Federal Motor Carrier safety regulations.
Contact a State Patrol office for
details (see “Wisconsin State Patrol
Regions Map” in this manual).
Penalty For Operating Without
a CDL (for Drivers):
1st Offense: $200–$600 fine or
not more than 6 months in jail;
3 points
2nd within 3 years: $300­– $1,000 fine or
5 days to 6 months in jail;
3 points
3rd or more within 3 years: $1,000–$2,000 fine and
10 days to 6 months in jail;
3 points
INTERSTATE COMMERCE:
Any trade, traffic or transportation in
the U.S. between a place in a State and a
place outside of such State OR is between
two places in a State through another
State or a place outside of the U.S.
Special note: Transportation with a CMV
within state lines is considered interstate
commerce if the origin and/or destination
of the load crosses state lines.
WISCONSIN’S IMPLIED
CONSENT LAW:
If a law enforcement officer asks you to submit
to testing to determine a concentration of alcohol
or other drugs in your system, you must do so.
If you refuse to take a test requested by the
officer, your operating privilege will be revoked
for a minimum of one year and you will be
subject to other penalties. Wis. Stats. 343.305
Penalty For Operating Without
a CDL (for Employers):
The penalty for employers who place unqualified
drivers on the road is a $2,500–$10,000 fine
OR not more than 90 days in jail; OR both.
INTRASTATE COMMERCE:
Any trade, traffic or transportation
in any State which is not described
in the term “interstate” commerce.
NEW DRIVERS:
To drive in intrastate or interstate commerce,
you must have passed a medical examination,
within the past two years, in accordance
with Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Regulations 49 CFR 391, Subpart E.
See “Commercial driver license medical/physical
requirements” in this manual or on the Internet at
www.cdl.wi.gov for more information.
revised 2/2012
page 3
How to Use This Manual
(This page includes both Volume 1 and 2 section information)
If you want to get a license to drive
this type of vehicle or a similar tank vehicle,
Study these sections of the driver’s manual.
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Driving Safely
Section 3: Cargo
Section 5: Air Brakes
Section 6: Combination Vehicles
Section 7: Doubles and Triples
Section 9: Haz Mat (if needed) in Volume 2
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Driving Safely
Section 3: Cargo
Section 5: Air Brakes
Section 6: Combination Vehicles
Section 9: Haz Mat (if needed) in Volume 2
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Driving Safely
Section 3: Cargo
Section 4: Passengers
Section 5: Air Brakes (if needed)
Section 10: School Bus
Note: Volume 2
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Driving Safely
Section 3: Cargo
Section 5: Air Brakes
Section 6: Combination Vehicles (If needed)
Section 9: Haz Mat (if needed) in Volume 2
(CDL required only if these vehicles are used to haul hazardous materials)
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: Driving Safely
Section 3: Cargo
Section 9: Haz Mat (if needed) in Volume 2
If you want a tank vehicle endorsement, also study Section 8.
page 4
CMV and CDL Guide
To determine if a vehicle is a Commercial Motor Vehicle
(CMV), use the greater of the:
• Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), or
• actual gross weight, or
• registered weight, or
• Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) when the
towed unit has a GVWR, registered weight or actual
gross weight over 10,000 pounds.
Vehicle examples:
1. A combination vehicle 26,001 or more pounds is a
Class “A” CMV only if the trailer being towed has
a gross vehicle weight rating, registered weight or
actual gross weight of more than 10,000 pounds.
2. When the weight of the combination vehicle is exactly
26,000 pounds, it is not a CMV and does not require a
CDL. Example: A tractor weighs 16,000 pounds
and the towed unit weighs 10,000 pounds.
3. When the towing vehicle is 26,000 or less pounds
and the towed unit is 10,000 or less pounds, it is
not a CMV and does not require a CDL. Example:
A tractor weighs 25,500 pounds and the towed unit
weighs 8,000 pounds.
4. A CDL with an “N” tank vehicle endorsement
is required only when the capacity of the tank is
1,000 gallons or more and the vehicle fits the
description of a CMV.
5. A CDL with a “P” passenger endorsement is required
when the vehicle is designed to transport or is actually
transporting the driver and 15 or more passengers.
VEHICLE EXAMPLES
LICENSE REQUIREMENTS
IS DESIGNED TO
TRANSPORT 16 OR
MORE PASSENGERS
INCLUDING
THE DRIVER
TRACTOR OR
SINGLE UNIT
TRUCK
TRAILER
CARRIES
HAZMAT
1
18,000#
12,000#
✔
2
8,000#
20,000#
3
26,500#
4
27,000#
5
27,000#
✔
6
29,000#
✔
7
12,000#
8
25,000#
✔
9
25,000#
✔
10
5,000#
11
16,000#
12
IS A
SCHOOL
BUS
IS THIS
A CMV?
DO I NEED
A CDL?
WHAT CLASS
IS IT?
WHICH
ENDORSEMENT?
Yes
Yes
A
H
Yes
Yes
A
Yes
Yes
B
Yes
Yes
B
Yes
Yes
B
P and S
Yes
Yes
B
P
Yes
Yes
C
H
Yes
Yes
C
P
Yes
Yes
C
P and S
Yes
Yes
C
H
10,000#
No
No
D
26,000#
8,000#
No
No
D
13
20,000#
8,000#
No
No
D
14
10,000#
No
No
D
15
6,000#
No
No
D
10,000#
✔
✔
✔
✔
✔
20,000#
S
TANK TRUCK
16
26,000#
No
No
D
17
26,010#
Yes
Yes
B
18
26,000#
10,000#
No
No
D
19
26,000#
10,000#
Yes
Yes
C
H–N
20
20,000#
10,500#
Yes
Yes
A
N
BDS 207 2/2012
✔
N
WisDOT Bureau of Driver Services, (608) 264-7049, www.wisconsindmv.gov
page 5
Commercial Driver License (CDL) – Overview
Commercial driver licenses (CDL) are required
to operate vehicles that:
●● weigh over 26,000 pounds as determined
by the highest of the following weights:
»» manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
»» manufacturer’s Gross Combination Weight
Rating (GCWR) when the towed unit has
a GVWR, registered weight or actual
gross weight over 10,000 pounds
»» actual gross weight
»» registered weight
●● transport hazardous materials that require
placarding under federal or state law.
●● are designed or used to carry 16 or more persons
including the driver. (Buses and some school buses.)
There are federal and state regulations governing the
operation of commercial motor vehicles.
●● Wisconsin law requires:
●● a classified licensing system.
●● issuing of only one license to each driver.
●● testing of commercial drivers, who must pass
a knowledge exam and driving skills test in
the type of vehicle they wish to drive.
»» School bus drivers are required to pass
knowledge and highway signs tests and an
abbreviated driving skills test at each renewal.
»» Commercial drivers with an “H” endorsement
are required to pass a hazardous materials
knowledge test at each renewal (every 4 years.)
●● enforcement of the law through the Commercial
Driver License Information System (CDLIS),
a computer network of all states.
●● enforcement of CDL disqualifications for alcohol and
serious traffic violations (see “Wisconsin General
CDL Disqualifications” chart in this manual.)
If you hold an “H” endorsement and are disqualified at any
time, you must surrender the “H” endorsement.
Requirements for Hazardous Materials (H)
Endorsement (See also “School Bus and Hazmat
Licensing Requirements” and “Hazardous Materials
Disqualifications” charts in Volume 2.)
You will need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship.
In addition, you will also need to meet the following
requirements:
●● Fingerprinting.
»» When applying for, renewing or transferring a
hazmat endorsement on a CDL, applicants must
provide their fingerprints for an FBI criminal
background check. When you file your application
with DMV, DMV will give you a list of locations
where you can have your fingerprints taken.
●● Background check.
●● “H” endorsement holders are subject to a name-based
FBI criminal history records check and a check of
Federal databases. You will not be permitted to obtain,
renew or transfer your “H” endorsement if you:
»» have been convicted (in any jurisdiction, military
or civilian) or found not guilty by reason of insanity
of certain felonies over the past 7 years.
»» have been in prison within the last 5 years
for any of those certain felonies.
»» are wanted or under indictment for
any of those certain felonies.
»» have ever been found mentally incompetent or have
been committed involuntarily to a mental institution.
REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHOOL
BUS (S) ENDORSEMENT
The driver must:
●● Have an “S” endorsement on his/
her Wisconsin driver license.
●● Possess a valid Wisconsin driver
license of the appropriate class.
●● Be at least 18 years of age.
●● Have sufficient use of both hands and the foot
normally used to operate the foot brake and
foot accelerator correctly and efficiently.
●● Meet the physical/medical standards for
school bus endorsement referenced in Admin.
Rule Trans. 112 by providing either a current
federal medical card or an MV3030B (medical
examination report for “S” or “P” endorsement).
●● Have no convictions for offenses that will result in
disqualification for obtaining an “S” endorsement.
Refer to the chart “School Bus Disqualifications”
in Volume 2 for a list of convictions and their
associated term of disqualification.
revised 2/2012
page 6
Federal Medical Certificate and your Commercial Driver License (CDL)
What you need to know
Federal regulations require drivers of commercial motor
vehicles to self-certify their type of vehicle operation. The
type of driving you do will determine your certification.
The type of certification (tier) you choose will determine
whether you must provide a copy of your Federal Medical
Certificate (Fed Med card) to the DMV. If you must provide
a copy of your Fed Med card to the DMV, you will also be
required to keep your card up to date and provide a copy to
the DMV when you renew or get a new card.
●● Tier 4: Excepted Intrastate –
You do not need a Fed Med card.
You are engaged in intrastate commerce
and subject to an exception*.
Tier 4 includes Wisconsin exceptions as follows:
»» Tow trucks (if requested by a
federal, state or local officer to move
a wrecked or disabled vehicle).
»» Grandfathered (held valid CDL since
July 29, 1996 that has not been revoked).
New CDL applicants must certify their type of vehicle
operation to the DMV upon application.
»» Wisconsin diabetes exemption
to the Fed Med card.
WHAT TIER AM I?
»» Wisconsin vision exemption
to the Fed Med card.
Ask yourself: Am I an interstate or intrastate driver?
Do I operate in an excepted* industry listed below?
Your answer will determine your self-certification:
●● You are an interstate driver if cargo you transport
crosses state lines at any point during its trip. You
will choose Tier 1 if you are operating interstate,
not under an exception. You will choose Tier 2 if
you are operating interstate under an exception.
●● You are an intrastate driver if cargo you transport stays
within the state (it does not cross state lines). You
will choose Tier 3 if you are operating intrastate, not
under an exception. You will choose Tier 4 if you are
operating intrastate under a federal or state exception.
NOW YOU ARE READY TO CHOOSE
YOUR TIER OF CERTIFICATION:
●● Tier 1: Non-Excepted Interstate – You need
to provide a valid Fed Med card to DMV.
This is the most flexible tier of certification
and covers you under any circumstance.
If you are engaged in interstate commerce, you
are required to provide a valid Fed Med card to
DMV. Failure to maintain a valid card will result in
loss of interstate CDL privileges unless excepted*.
Information from your Fed Med card such as the
doctor’s name, date of exam, certificate expiration
date, etc., will be recorded on your driving record
and will be made available to law enforcement.
●● Tier 2: Excepted Interstate –
You do not need a Fed Med card.
This tier means you are engaged in interstate
commerce but operating under an exception*.
●● Tier 3: Non-Excepted Intrastate – You need a valid
Fed Med card to drive a commercial vehicle. You
will need to provide it to DMV when a license is
issued, but you do not have to forward a copy of it to
the DMV to keep on file when the card is updated.
You are engaged in intrastate commerce.
Tier 3 does not include exceptions*.
*EXCEPTIONS INCLUDE:
●● All school bus operations.
●● Transportation performed by any political subdivision.
●● Transportation of human corpses
or sick and injured persons.
●● Operation of fire trucks and rescue vehicles while
involved in emergency and related operations.
●● Operation of vehicles designed or used to
transport between 9 and 15 passengers
not for direct compensation.
●● Transportation of propane winter heating fuel
or responding to a pipeline emergency.
●● Farm custom operation, custom-harvesting operations,
transporting farm machinery, supplies, or both to or from
a farm for custom-harvesting operations on a farm, or
transport custom-harvested crops to storage or market.
●● Operation of a commercial motor vehicle
controlled and operated by a beekeeper engaged
in the seasonal transportation of bees.
●● Operation of private motor carrier of
passengers (non-business).
●● Occasional transportation of personal property
not for compensation or commercial enterprise.
If you certify in tiers 2–4, you may still be required to have
a Fed Med card due to state statutes or employer policy.
However, you do not have to furnish a copy of the Fed
Med card to the DMV outside of a normal trip for a license
renewal or replacement.
If you already have your CDL but have not yet certified
your tier of operation, you may upload your Fed Med
card and self certify your tier of operation online at
www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/drivers/selfcert.htm.
All CDL holders must self-certify their type of vehicle
operation to the DMV by January 30, 2014.
Please contact the DMV Driver Resolution and Eligibility
Unit with questions:
Telephone: (608) 264-7049
Email: dre.dmv@dot.wi.gov
2/2012
page 7
Commercial Driver License Medical Requirements
To drive in intrastate or interstate commerce, you must have
passed a medical examination, within the past 2 years, in
accordance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
49 CFR 391, Subpart E., as defined in the Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMSCA) Medical
Examination Report at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/
safetyprograms/Medical-Report.pdf. A summary of
medical and physical qualifications for drivers is found on
the following page.
ACCEPTABLE PROOF OF EXAMINATION
Acceptable proof of examination is a fully completed
Medical Examiner’s Certificate found on the last page
at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/documents/safetyprograms/
Medical-Report.pdf. A medical examiner will need to
complete the FMCSA Medical Examination Report for
Commercial Driver Fitness Determination as well as
the certificate at the end of the packet. You will need to
carry a copy of this certificate with you when operating a
commercial motor vehicle. We recommend that you make
a copy of your card to keep in your files. Instructions for the
medical examiner are included in this document.
MEDICAL EXAMINER
A medical examiner is defined as any person who is
licensed, certified, and/or registered, in accordance with
applicable state laws and regulations to perform physical
examinations. The term includes, but is not limited to,
doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, physician
assistants, advanced practice nurses and doctors of
chiropractic. It is important that the person completing it
understands the qualifications. Instructions for the examiner
are at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/
medical/aboutDOTexam.htm .
A WAIVER OF CERTAIN PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS
OR DISEASES MAY BE AVAILABLE
For information on federal exceptions or waivers see the
FMCSA Exemptions Programs at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/
rules-regulations/topics/medical/exemptions.htm or Skill
Performance Evaluation at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregulations/topics/medical/spepackage.htm.
If you do not hold a federal medical card or are not grandfathered, you will be issued a restricted commercial driver
license. This license would only be valid if you are a school
bus driver or are employed by a political subdivision (village,
town, state, etc.).
Refer to “Chapter Trans 327 Motor Carrier Safety
Frequently Asked Questions” in this manual for answers to
some of the most common questions about federal medical
standards and grandfathering. Direct other questions
regarding federal medical standards to:
U.S. DOT Office of Motor Carriers
1 Point Place Suite 101
Madison, WI 53719-2809
Telephone: (608) 662-2010
(federal medical standard
questions only please)
If you have other questions about your Wisconsin CDL,
contact:
WI DOT Driver Regulation Eligibility
P.O. Box 7995
Madison, WI 53707-7995
Email: dre.dmv@dot.wigov
Telephone: (608) 264-7049
2/2012
page 8
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations 49 CFR 391, Subpart E – Physical Qualifications and Examinations:
(a) A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she is physically qualified to do so and,
except as provided in 391.67, has on his/her person the original, or a photographic copy, of a medical
examiner’s certificate that he/she is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
(b) A person is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle if that person (1) Has no loss of a foot, a leg, a hand, or an arm, or has been granted a waiver pursuant to 391.49;
(2) Has no impairment of:
(i) A hand or finger which interferes with prehension or power grasping; or
(ii) An arm, foot, or leg which interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with
operating a commercial motor vehicle; or any other significant limb defect or limitation which
interferes with the ability to perform normal tasks associated with operating a commercial motor
vehicle; or has been granted a waiver pursuant to 391.49.
(3) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of diabetes mellitus currently requiring insulin
for control;
(4) Has no current clinical diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency,
thrombosis, or any other cardiovascular disease of a variety known to be accompanied by syncope,
dyspnea, collapse, or congestive cardiac failure;
(5) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of a respiratory dysfunction likely to interfere
with his/her ability to control and drive a commercial motor vehicle safely;
(6) Has no current clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure likely to interfere with his/her ability to operate
a commercial motor vehicle safely;
(7) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular,
neuromuscular, or vascular disease which interferes with his/her ability to control and operate a
commercial motor vehicle safely;
(8) Has no established medical history or clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any other condition which is
likely to cause loss of consciousness or any loss of ability to control a commercial motor vehicle;
(9) Has no mental, nervous, organic, or functional disease or psychiatric disorder likely to interfere with
his/her ability to drive a commercial motor vehicle safely;
(10) Has distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual
acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular
acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at
least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of
traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber;
(11) First perceives a forced whispered voice in the better ear at not less than 5 feet with or without the
use of a hearing aid or, if tested by use of an audiometric device, does not have an average hearing
loss in the better ear greater than 40 decibels at 500 Hz, 1,000 Hz, and 2,000 Hz with or without a
hearing aid when the audio metric device is calibrated to American National Standard (formerly ASA
Standard) Z24.5-1951-1
(12) Does not use a Schedule 1 drug or other substance identified in Appendix D to this subchapter,
an amphetamine, narcotic, or any other habit-forming drug, except that a driver may use such a
substance or drug if the substance or drug is prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner who is
familiar with the driver’s medical history and assigned duties and who has advised the driver that
the prescribed substance or drug will not adversely affect the driver’s ability to safely operate a
commercial motor vehicle; and
(13) Has no current clinical diagnosis of alcoholism.
page 9
CHAPTER TRANS 327 MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WI Department of Transportation
BDS218 2/2012
Effective July 29, 1996: Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) operating in intrastate commerce
must meet the federal medical standards and present a valid federal medical card when they apply for a
commercial driver license (CDL) unless they have been grandfathered or are exempt by federal or state law.
What is Interstate Commerce? Any trade, traffic, or transportation in the U.S. which is between
a place in a State and a place outside of such State, or is between two places in a State through
another State, or a place outside of the U.S. Note: Transportation with a CMV within state lines is
considered interstate commerce if the origin and/or destination of the load crosses state lines.
What is Intrastate Commerce? Any trade, traffic, or transportation in any
State which is not described in the term “interstate commerce.”
Is there a simple definition of commerce? Everyone in a CMV is considered to be in commerce
unless they are exempt (driving for a political subdivision or driving a school bus).
Who was grandfathered? Drivers who had a Wisconsin CDL prior to July 29, 1996. However,
those drivers will lose their grandfathered status if their CDL is revoked on or after July 29, 1996.
What are the benefits of being grandfathered? Grandfathered drivers are not required to
have a federal medical exam or meet federal medical standards to qualify for a CDL which
allows driving in intrastate commerce. Grandfathered drivers must still meet the state CDL
medical standards such as visual acuity of 20/60 in the best eye. However, if they don’t meet
the state medical standards, drivers are allowed to appeal to the Medical Review Board.
Can grandfathered status be transferred from one state to another? No.
Do CMV Drivers employed by a political subdivision need a federal medical card? No.
Drivers employed by any political subdivision (federal, state, county, city, township or village)
operating a CMV owned by the political subdivision are exempt from the federal standards.
Do school bus drivers employed by a school district or private contractor need the federal
medical card? Drivers employed by a school district and driving a bus owned by the district are
exempt from the federal standards. They may cross state lines to transport students between
home and school or when driving for curricular or extracurricular activities and charter trips.
Drivers employed by a private contractor and driving a bus owned by the contractor are exempt
from the federal standards while operating within Wisconsin and when crossing state lines to
transport students between home and school. A valid federal medical card is required when
operating across state lines for curricular or extracurricular activities and charter trips.
page 10
CHAPTER TRANS 327 MOTOR CARRIER SAFETY FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (continued)
Are CMV drivers operating a passenger bus exempt from federal medical standards? No. Drivers
needing a “P” endorsement who do not have the federal medical card and are not grandfathered
will be issued a license with two restrictions (“No CMV Operation in Interstate Commerce” and
“No CMV Operation in Intrastate Commerce unless Exempt by State or Federal Law”).
For drivers needing a “P” endorsement, such as those driving buses owned by a municipality (which is exempt),
having both restrictions is fine. For those driving buses for a private human service agency (which is not exempt),
“No CMV Operation in Interstate Commerce” and “No CMV Operation in Intrastate Commerce” restrictions will
not be acceptable and they will need to present the federal medical card, unless grandfathered, to avoid these
restrictions. Drivers must know the type of operation involved to determine if they need a federal medical card.
Can drivers with an instruction permit (CDLI) with a “P” endorsement, practice operating
a school bus without a federal medical card? Yes, they may practice in the school bus when
accompanied by a qualified instructor or a properly licensed person 21 years of age or older who holds
a valid license authorizing passenger vehicle operation. However, they may not transport passengers.
Can drivers with a commercial instruction permit (CDLI) practice operating a
truck without a federal medical card? No, if the vehicle is owned by a commercial
driving school or an employer who is not a political subdivision.
Yes, if the vehicle is owned by a Wisconsin Technical College or an employer who is a political subdivision.
What happens to drivers who don’t pass a vision test, yet have a federal medical card?
They will be referred to a vision or other appropriate medical specialist. If issuance continues,
the license will have the “No CMV Operation in Interstate Commerce” restriction and, if the
driver is not grandfathered, the “No CMV Operation in Intrastate Commerce” restriction.
What type of driving can drivers perform if they were not grandfathered and do not have a
federal medical card? They can drive for exempt groups (political subdivision or school districts, if
they meet the Wisconsin school bus driver standards or are approved by the Medical Review Board).
Do Drivers age 18, 19, and 20 need a federal medical card? Yes, if they wish to operate
a CMV in intrastate commerce and have not been grandfathered or are not exempt by
federal or state law. If they present a federal medical card their CDL will be issued with
the “No CMV Operation in Interstate Commerce” restriction because federal law does
not permit a person under age 21 to operate a CMV in interstate commerce.
Who can appeal to the Medical Review Board? Drivers who are grandfathered may appeal to the
board for intrastate driving. Also, new drivers who plan to drive for the exempt groups (political subdivision
or school districts) may also appeal to the board. The board cannot make any exceptions to the federal
standards. Any person who is required to have a federal medical card may not appeal to the board.
If not grandfathered, can a person with insulin dependent diabetes get a CDL for intrastate
driving? Yes, if they file with the DMV Medical Review Unit, two satisfactory medical reports from two
physicians. They will be issued a CDL with restrictions, “No CMV Operation in Interstate Commerce”
and “No CMV Operation in Intrastate Commerce Unless Exempt by State or Federal Law”. They will
also get a letter to carry, while operating a CMV, that states they have qualified for this exemption.
page 11
Wisconsin General CDL Disqualifications
Violations on or after 7/1/87 but prior to 9/30/2005
DISQUALIFYING
OFFENSES:
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st CMV
Conviction
1st Non–CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non–CMV
Conviction
N/A
Life
N/A
Operating While
Intoxicated (OWI)
OWI causing injury
OWI causing great bodily harm
OWI causing death
Commercial Alcohol
(CA) .04 –.07
CA causing injury
CA causing great bodily harm
1 year
or, if
HAZ MAT
conviction:
3 years
CA causing death
Operating under influence
of controlled substance
Refusal
Failure to stop/report accident
Felony
Controlled substance felony
Life
Violations on or after 9/30/2005
DISQUALIFYING
OFFENSES:
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st CMV
Conviction
1st Non–CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non–CMV
Conviction
Operating While
Intoxicated (OWI)
1 year
Life
Operating with a Prohibited
Alcohol Concentration (PAC)
1 year
Life
OWI causing injury
1 year
Life
OWI causing great bodily harm
1 year
Life
OWI causing death
1 year
Life
Commercial Alcohol
(CA) .04–.07
N/A
N/A
CA causing injury
N/A
N/A
CA causing great bodily harm
CA causing death
Operating under influence
of controlled substance
1 year
or, if
HAZ MAT
conviction:
3 years
N/A
N/A
N/A
Life
N/A
1 year
Life
Refusal (IC; ICU)
1 year
Life
Failure to stop/report
accident (FSA; FSU; DSP)
1 year
Life
Felony
1 year
Life
Driving a CMV when
CDL is rev/sus/can/dqf
N/A
N/A
Causing a fatality/negligent
operation of CMV
N/A
N/A
Life
Life
Controlled substance felony
Life
Imminent Hazard
As ordered by FMCSA
page 12
Wisconsin General CDL Disqualifications
Violations on or after 7/1/87 but prior to 9/30/2005
SERIOUS
DISQUALIFYING
OFFENSES:
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st CMV
Conviction
1st Non–CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non–CMV
Conviction
Speeding 15 or more
over the limit
2 offenses
within 3 years:
60 days
Reckless driving
Passing illegally
N/A
N/A
Improper or erratic lane change
N/A
3 offenses
within 3 years:
120 days
Following too closely
Moving violation arising
from a fatal accident
Violations on or after 9/30/2005
SERIOUS
DISQUALIFYING
OFFENSES:
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st CMV
Conviction
1st Non–CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non–CMV
Conviction
Speeding 15 or more
over the limit
Reckless driving
Passing illegally
2 offenses within
3 years: 60 days
Improper or erratic
lane change
Following too closely
Moving violation arising
from a fatal accident
N/A
N/A
2 offenses
within 3 years: 60 days
3 offenses
within 3 years: 120 days
Driving a CMV without
obtaining a CDL
3 offenses within 3 years:
120 days if the conviction
results in revocation,
suspension, or cancel of
CDL holder’s license or
non–CMV driving privileges
Driving a CMV without
a CDL in possession
Driving a CMV without
proper class/endorsement
Violations on or after 10/4/2002
RAILROAD-HIGHWAY DISQUALIFY CDL
GRADE CROSSING: 1st CMV
DRIVER FAILS TO: Conviction
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st Non–CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non–CMV
Conviction
Slow down to ensure
tracks clear
Stop if the tracks are not clear
Stop before driving
onto crossing
Drive through crossing
without stopping
Obey a traffic control
device or officer
1st offense: 60 days
N/A
2 offenses
within 3 years: 120 days
3 offenses
within 3 years: 1 year
N/A
Ensure sufficient
undercarriage clearance
page 13
Wisconsin General CDL Disqualifications
Violations on or after 12/21/1995
FALSIFIED
APPLICATION
FOR A CMV:
Falsified application for a CMV
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st CMV
Conviction
1st Non-CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non-CMV
Conviction
60 days
N/A
60 days
3rd offense: 60 days
N/A
Violations on or after 8/1/2000
OPERATING
CMV WHILE
OUT–OF–SERVICE:
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
DISQUALIFY CDL
1st CMV
Conviction
1st Non–CMV
Conviction
2nd CMV
Conviction
2nd Non–CMV
Conviction
Operating CMV while
out–of–service
1st offense: 90 days
HAZ penalties apply
if violation occurred while
transporting HAZ MAT or
while operating a vehicle
designed to carry 16 or
more passengers
HAZ MAT or
passenger: 180 days
N/A
2nd offense
within 10 years: 1 year
HAZ MAT or
passenger: 3 years
N/A
3rd offense
within 10 years: 3 years
HAZ MAT or
passenger: 3 years
Revised March 2012
page 14
Division of State Patrol Regions Map
11/2011
WAUSAU POST
SPOONER POST
Capt. J.D. Lind, Commander
Lt. Jeffry W. Liethen, Executive Officer
2805 Martin Ave.
Wausau, WI 54401-7172
Telephone (715) 845-1143
Fax (715) 848-9255
Capt. Jeffrey J. Frenette, Commander
Lt. Nicholas R. Wanink, Executive Officer
W7102 Green Valley Rd.
Spooner, WI 54801
Telephone (715) 635-2141
Fax (715) 635-6373
EAU CLAIRE POST
Capt. Jeffrey J. Frenette,
Commander
Lt. Jeffrey D. Lorentz,
Executive Officer
5005 Hwy 53 South
Eau Claire, WI 54701-8846
Telephone (715) 839-3800
Fax (715) 839-3841
FOND DU LAC POST
Capt. Nick Scorcio Jr. Commander
851 S. Rolling Meadows Dr.
P.O. Box 984
Fond du Lac, WI 54936-9927
Telephone (920) 929-3700
Fax (920) 929-7666
Northwest
Region
(Spooner
Post)
North Central
Region
WISCONSIN STATE
PATROL ACADEMY
Capt. Christopher
M. Neuman
95 S. 10th Ave.
Ft. McCoy, WI 54656-5168
Telephone (608) 269-2500
Fax (608) 269-5681
TOMAH POST
Capt. Charles R. Teasdale, Commander
(I-90, Tomah Exit Hwy. 131)
23928 Lester McMullen Dr.
Tomah, WI 54660-5376
Telephone (608) 374-0513
Fax (608) 374-0599
Northeast
Region
(Eau Claire
Post)
(Wausau Post)
A
(Academy)
(Tomah Post)
(Fond du Lac
Post)
Southwest
Region
DEFOREST POST
Capt. Charles R. Teasdale, Commander
Lt. Brad Altman, Executive Officer
911 W North St.
DeForest, WI 53532-1971
Telephone (608) 846-8500
DIVISION HEADQUARTERS
Fax (608) 846-8523
Stephen Fitzgerald, Superintendent
Benjamin H. Mendez, Colonel
4802 Sheboygan Ave., Rm. 551,
P.O. Box 7912
Madison, WI 53707-7912
Telephone (608) 266-3212
Fax (608) 267-4495
(DeForest
Post)
✭
(Division HQ
Madison)
(Waukesha
Post)
Southeast
Region
WAUKESHA POST
Capt. Timothy L. Carnahan
Lt. James M. Kicmol, Executive Officer
21115 East Moreland Blvd.
Waukesha, WI 53186-2985
Telephone (262) 785-4700
Fax (262) 785-4723
page 15
PART ONE
1.Introduction
2. Driving Safely
3. Transporting Cargo Safely
This part is for all commercial drivers.
Section 1: Introduction
This section covers:
●● Commercial Driver License Tests
●● Other CDL Rules
●● Wisconsin CDL
There is a federal requirement that each state have minimum
standards for the licensing of commercial drivers.
This manual provides driver license testing information for
Wisconsin drivers who wish to have a Commercial Driver
License (CDL). Information for drivers who wish to operate a
school bus in Wisconsin is contained in Volume 2.
●● The Hazardous Materials Test, required if you want
to transport hazardous materials as defined in 49
CFR 383.5. In order to obtain this endorsement
you are also required to pass a Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) background check.
●● The Tanker Test, required if you want to transport
a liquid or liquid gas in a permanently mounted
cargo tank rated at 119 gallons or more or a
portable tank rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
●● The Doubles/Triples Test, required if you
want to pull double or triple trailers.
You must have a CDL to operate:
SKILLS TEST
●● Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating
(GVWR), actual weight or registered weight over 26,000
lbs. or such vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR,
actual weight or registered weight of 10,000 lbs. or less.
If you pass the required knowledge test(s), you can take the
CDL skills tests. There are three types of general skills that
will be tested.
●● A combination vehicle with a gross combination weight
rating, actual weight or registered weight over 26,000
lbs. provided the GVWR, actual weight or registered
weight of the towed vehicle(s) is more than 10,000 lbs.
●● Any size vehicle which requires hazardous material
placards or is carrying material listed as a select
agent or toxin in 42 CFR part 73. Federal regulations
through the Department of Homeland Security
require a background check and fingerprinting
for the Hazardous Materials endorsement.
●● A vehicle that is designed OR used to transport
16 or more passengers, including the driver.
Any vehicle for which a CDL is required is considered
a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV).
To get a CDL, you must pass knowledge and skills tests.
This manual will help you prepare for the tests. This manual
is not a substitute for a truck driver training class or program.
Formal training is the most reliable way to learn the many
special skills required for safely driving a large commercial
vehicle and becoming a professional driver in the trucking
industry.
1.1 Commercial Driver License Tests
KNOWLEDGE TESTS
You will have to take one or more knowledge tests, depending
on what class of license and what endorsements you need.
The CDL knowledge tests include:
●● The General Knowledge Test,
taken by all applicants.
●● The Passenger Transport Test,
taken by all bus driver applicants.
●● The School Bus Test, required if
you want to drive a school bus.
●● The Air Brakes Test, which you must take if your vehicle
has air brakes, including air over hydraulic brakes.
●● The Combination Vehicles Test, which is required
if you want to drive combination vehicles.
●● Pre-trip inspection.
●● Basic vehicle control.
●● On-road driving.
You must take these tests in the type of vehicle for which you
wish to be licensed.
Wisconsin Note: In Wisconsin, you may fail the
pre-trip inspection and still continue with the skills
tests if the vehicle is safe for highway operation.
However, you must still pass the pre-trip before a CDL
will be issued.
Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection. You will be tested to see if you
know whether your vehicle is safe to drive. You will be asked
to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and explain to the
examiner what you would inspect and why. Section 11 of this
manual tells you what to inspect and how to inspect it.
Basic Vehicle Control. You will be tested on your skill to
control the vehicle. You will be asked to move your vehicle
forward, backward and turn it within a defined area. These
areas may be marked with traffic lanes, cones, barriers or
something similar. The examiner will tell you how each control
test is to be done. Section 12 of this manual explains more
about this test.
On-road Test. You will be tested on your skill to safely drive
your vehicle in a variety of traffic situations. The situations may
include left and right turns, intersections, railroad crossings,
curves, up and down grades, single or multi-lane roads,
streets or highways. The examiner will tell you where to drive.
Section 13 of this manual explains more about this test.
1.2 Other CDL Rules
There are other federal and state rules that affect drivers
operating CMVs. Among them are:
●● You cannot have more than one license. If you break
this rule, a court may fine you up to $5,000 or put you in
jail, keep your home state license and return any others.
●● You must notify your employer within 30 days of a
conviction for any traffic violations (except parking). This
is true no matter what type of vehicle you were driving.
page 1:1
●● You must notify your motor vehicle licensing
agency within 30 days if you are convicted
in any other jurisdiction (state) of any traffic
violation (except parking). This is true no matter
what type of vehicle you were driving.
●● You must notify your employer within two
business days if your driving privilege is
suspended, revoked, canceled or disqualified.
●● You must give your employer information on all driving
jobs you have held for the past 10 years. You must
do this when you apply for a commercial driving job.
●● All states are connected to one computerized
system to share information about CDL drivers. The
states will check on drivers’ records to be sure
that drivers do not have more than one CDL.
●● You must be properly restrained by a safety
belt at all times while operating a CMV.
1.3 Wisconsin CDL
»» Are one of the following:
-- Substituting for or replacing,
a regular employee who ordinarily
operates the vehicle.
-- An additional employee because
a snow emergency exists as determined
by the local unit of government.
WHAT IS THE CLASSIFIED LICENSE?
To determine weight, use the highest of the Gross Vehicle
Weight Rating (GVWR), Gross Combination Weight Rating
(GCWR), registered weight or actual gross weight.
Wisconsin issues a “classified” license to all drivers. Wisconsin’s
driver classification system has 5 classes. They are:
CLASS A - Any combination of vehicles with
a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), actual
weight or registered weight over 26,000 lbs. provided
the GVWR, actual weight or registered weight
of the towed vehicle(s) is more than 10,000 lbs.
WHO IS EXEMPT FROM CDL
LICENSING IN WISCONSIN?
Federal law allows states the option to waive certain kinds of
drivers from the requirement to obtain a CDL. In Wisconsin,
the following drivers are not required to hold a CDL:
●● Fire fighters and rescue squad members
are not required to hold a CDL to drive properly
equipped emergency or fire fighting vehicles.
●● Recreational vehicle operators (owned or leased
motor home, fifth wheel mobile home or touring mobile
home, provided it isn’t longer than 45 feet) not engaged
in commercial activity are not required to hold a CDL.
●● A farmer, the farmer’s family members, and/or the
farmer’s employees are not required to hold a CDL
to drive a commercial motor vehicle owned or leased
by the farmer, provided the vehicle is not used in “for
hire” carriage, is transporting farm supplies, produce or
machinery to or from the farm and is within 150 miles of
the farm. The farm supplies that a farmer may transport
without obtaining a CDL may include hazardous
materials. However, a farmer driving a commercial
motor vehicle with double or triple trailers or designed
to carry or actually carrying 16 or more passengers
must have a CDL with proper endorsements.
●● Back-up (substitute or replacement) snowplow drivers
(includes snow or ice removal by plowing, salting or
sanding) for local units of government (defined as a
county, city, village, town, school district, county utility
district, sanitary district, metropolitan sewage district,
or other public body created by or pursuant
to state law) are not required to hold a
CDL if they meet all of the following:
»» Are an employee of a local unit
of government with a population
of 3,000 or less.
»» Hold a valid Class D license.
»» Are operating within the boundaries
of the local unit of government.
page 1:2
CLASS B - Any single vehicle with a GVWR, actual
weight or registered weight over 26,000 lbs. or such
vehicle towing a vehicle with a GVWR, actual weight
or a registered weight of 10,000 lbs. or less.
CLASS C - Any single vehicle with a GVWR, actual
weight or registered weight of 26,000 lbs. or less (or such
vehicle towing a vehicle less than 10,000 lbs.) transporting
hazardous materials requiring placarding or designed
to carry 16 or more persons including the driver.
CLASS D - Non-Commercial vehicles
26,000 pounds or less.
CLASS M - Motorcycles.
WHAT ARE ENDORSEMENTS?
Wisconsin will issue endorsements for specific types of
operation. These endorsements require additional knowledge
testing. The endorsement is evidence that you have passed
the tests and have the information you need for special
operation. You must pass tests and receive an endorsement
to operate a:
“S” - school bus
“P” - passenger vehicle: designed to transport
or actually transporting 16 or more passengers
including the driver
“H” - hazardous materials
“N” - tank vehicles: commercial vehicles equipped
with a cargo tank
“T” - double or triple trailers: towing double
or triple trailers
“F” - farm service: restricted to farm
service operation
WHAT IS A CDL RESTRICTION?
A Wisconsin commercial operator who wants to drive a vehicle
with air brakes must pass a special knowledge test on air
brake systems. You must also pass a skills test in a vehicle
equipped with air brakes. If you choose not to take the air
brake tests, you will have a commercial license restriction
of “No CMV Operation with Air Brakes” With this restriction
on your CDL, you may not legally operate any commercial
vehicle with air brakes.
FEDERAL MEDICAL STANDARDS
Applicants for a CDL must meet all federal physical
qualifications. To drive in interstate commerce, an applicant
must be at least 21 years old. However, applicants ages 18 to
21 may receive a restricted CDL, limited to intrastate (within
WI) operation only. The CDL will be restricted to “No CMV
Operation in Interstate Commerce”.
WHO WAS GRANDFATHERED
AND WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Effective July 29, 1996: Drivers of commercial motor
vehicles (CMV) operating in intrastate commerce must meet
the federal medical standards and present a valid federal
medical card when they apply for a commercial driver license
(CDL) unless they have been grandfathered or are exempt
by federal or state law.
Exception —Grandfathering: Drivers who were issued a
Wisconsin CDL or CDL instruction permit prior to July 29,
1996 need to meet only Wisconsin medical requirements for
intrastate (within Wisconsin only) operation. CDL license will
be restricted to “No CMV Operation in Interstate Commerce”
However, drivers whose CDLs are revoked on or after July 29,
1996 will lose their Grandfathered status. If they don’t meet
the state medical standards, drivers are allowed an appeal
to the Medical Review Board.
School bus drivers employed by school districts and driving
a school bus owned by the district are exempt from the
federal standards. They may cross state lines to transport
(carry) students between home and school or when driving
for curricular or extracurricular activities and charter trips.
School bus drivers employed by a commercial contractor
and driving a school bus owned by the contractor are exempt
from the federal standards while operating within Wisconsin.
They may also cross state lines to transport students between
home and school. But they are required to have a valid
federal medical card to drive across state lines for curricular
or extracurricular activities and charter trips.
Drivers who do not have a federal medical card and are not
grandfathered may be issued a regular CDL or CDL instruction
permit with the following two restrictions:
●● No CMV operation in interstate commerce.
●● No CMV operation in intrastate commerce
unless exempted by federal or state law.
Holders of a regular CDL or CDL instruction permit with these
two restrictions are limited to the following CMV operations:
●● Operate a motor truck or motor bus for a political
subdivision provided they are an employee of the
political subdivision and the CDL has the proper class
and endorsement for the CMV being operated.
●● Operate a school bus if they meet the state
medical standards for a school bus endorsement
and the CDL has the proper class and
endorsement for the CMV being operated.
Note: Drivers who have a CDL instruction permit with
both restrictions may not practice operating a truck
with a commercial driving school. However, if they are
taking a commercial driving class to operate a CMV
through a Wisconsin Technical College, they may
practice operating with the technical school because it
is a political subdivision.
For drivers needing a “P” endorsement, such as those driving
buses owned by a municipality (which is exempt), having both
restrictions is fine. For others, such as those driving buses for
a private human service agency (which is not exempt), the
“No CMV operation in Intrastate Commerce” and “No CMV
operation in Interstate Commerce” restrictions will not be
acceptable and they will need to present the federal medical
card, unless grandfathered, to avoid these restrictions. Drivers
must know the type of operation in which they will be involved
to determine if they are required to have a federal medical card.
If you do not meet the federal visual acuity standard of 20/40
in both eyes but have a federal medical card, you will be
referred to a vision or other appropriate medical specialist. If
you are issued a permit or license, you will have the “No CMV
operation in Interstate Commerce” restriction. If you are not
grandfathered, you will also have the “No CMV operation in
intrastate Commerce” restriction.
If you are 18, 19 or 20 years of age and have not been
grandfathered or are not exempt by federal or state law, you
will need a federal medical card if you wish to operate a
CMV in intrastate commerce. If you have a federal medical
card, your CDL will be issued with the “No CMV Operation
in Interstate Commerce” restriction because federal law
does not permit a person under age 21 to operate a CMV in
interstate commerce.
page 1:3
You can appeal to the Medical Review Board for intrastate
driving if you have been grandfathered. If you are a new
driver who plans to drive for the exempt groups (political
subdivision or school district) you also can appeal to the
board. However, the board cannot make any exceptions to
the federal standards; therefore, anyone who needs a federal
medical card cannot appeal to the board.
IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
Applicants for commercial driver licenses are required to show
their Social Security card. The Social Security number will
not appear on the driver license document but will be used
to identify driver records between states.
RENEWAL OF “H” ENDORSEMENT
The expiration date of your first “H” issued will be coordinated
with the expiration date of your CDL. This means that your
first “H” could be valid for up to five years depending on when
your CDL expires. All subsequent “H” endorsements issued
will be valid for four years.
INSTRUCTION PERMITS FOR
COMMERCIAL DRIVERS
New commercial drivers must get an instruction permit (CDLI)
to practice driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) to
prepare for the CDL skills test. To obtain the permit you must:
●● Be at least 18 years of age.
●● Hold a valid driver license.
●● Pass the knowledge tests for the type
of vehicle you will be driving.
●● Have a valid federal medical card. Persons who do not
have a valid federal medical card will be restricted to:
»» No CMV operation in interstate commerce.
»» No CMV operation in intrastate commerce
unless exempted by federal or state law,
i.e., employed by a governmental agency or
operating a school bus (a state medical form
is required for school bus operation).
A CDL instruction permit is valid only for CMVs. The permit
is valid for 6 months and will list the type of vehicles and
endorsements for which you have qualified. Certain restrictions
will apply to your operation with a CDL instruction permit:
A background check including the collection of fingerprints
must be completed before issuance of your first “H”
endorsement. A background check and fingerprinting are also
required at the first renewal and every four years thereafter,
even though a commercial driver license may be valid for
eight years. A vision screening, knowledge test for “H”, proof
of a valid medical card and proof of citizenship or immigration
status are also required at the same intervals.
●● You must have a qualified driving instructor or a person
who is licensed to operate that type of CMV and who
is at least 21 years old, sitting next to you at all times.
You must complete licensing requirements for a CDL and “H”
endorsement with the Wisconsin DMV prior to making an
appointment to have your fingerprints collected.
●● You may carry property in a CMV while you
are driving on an instruction permit.
●● You may not transport passengers. However, if the
accompanying driver is a qualified instructor, 3 other
persons with instruction permits may also ride along.
FARM SERVICE CDL
●● Unless you are at least 21 years old and have a federal
medical certificate (Fed Med Card), you may not operate
in interstate commerce on an instruction permit.
A special, restricted CDL called a Farm Service CDL is
available for seasonal drivers of certain CMVs, when
employed by specific farm related service industries. Contact
your DMV Service Center for details.
Drivers who upgrade class, restrictions or endorsements
will need a CDL instruction permit if the upgrade requires a
skills test.
TRANSFER OF MILITARY CDL
If you obtained a military license issued by any military facility
that allowed you to operate a military commercial vehicle, it is
possible that you can use it to obtain a Wisconsin Commercial
Driver License (CDL). You should identify (in writing on military
letterhead) the type of vehicle operated and include the
vehicle weight, capacity (trailer weight, number of passengers,
tanker size, etc.) and whether or not the vehicle had air brakes.
This information will help a DMV staff person determine the
appropriate classes and endorsements for a Wisconsin
CDL. Please avoid use of military jargon such as an M1088
or M291A1. Your clarification must be on military letterhead,
clearly state what commercial class(es) of vehicles you were
entitled to operate and be signed by your commanding officer.
This procedure does not cover Hazardous or School Bus
endorsements.
page 1:4
SKILLS TESTING
All applicants for a commercial driver license must pass a
skills test in the type of vehicle they plan to drive. The license
endorsements for driving a school bus or a commercial motor
vehicle carrying passengers require that the applicant pass a
skills test in a school bus or passenger carrying vehicle. To
schedule a CDL skills test appointment, see the inside front
cover for the Web address of third-party (non-DMV) testers/
examiners authorized to administer CDL skills tests.
Licensed commercial drivers are subject to retesting
by Wisconsin DMV and Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration CDL Examiners.
SCHOOL BUS LICENSES
Wisconsin school bus drivers will be tested when they first
apply for a school bus endorsement. They must also pass
the knowledge tests and a brief skills test upon renewal (or,
if 70 or older, every 2 years) to retain their endorsements
(see 4.7–4.10 in Volume 2). Wisconsin school bus drivers
must complete a medical report (or show DOT physical exam
certificate) on original application and file a new medical report
every 2 years and upon renewal (if 70 or older, every year).
CDL FEES
LOAD EXTENSIONS
The following fees are in effect as of January, 2008 and are
subject to change without notice. They include a $10 federal
verification fee (except the driving skills test fees).
There are a number of exceptions which apply to farm
machinery, vehicles involved in towing operations and
vehicles carrying certain types of loads.
Drivers of commercial vehicles
Instruction permit
Commercial driver license renewal
Commercial driver license with
“S” endorsement (renewal)
Change of authority
One notable exception for length involves cranes or booms
that are part of a hauled vehicle.
$30
$74**
$79
$15
Driving skills test (road test)
conducted by DMV
School buses
$15*
Other commercial vehicles
$20*
* This is the fee for a skills test conducted by DMV.
Third-party tester fees may be higher.
**The fee for a commercial driver license (CDL) is for an 8 year license. The fee
includes any endorsements added at the time of original CDL application. A CDL
may be upgraded later to add authorization to drive additional classes or types
of vehicles for $5 per endorsement plus a $10 federal verification fee, except the
school bus endorsement fee which is $10 plus a $10 federal verification fee. When
the license upgrade requires a skills test, a skills test fee will also be charged.
SPECIAL NOTES
●● A CDL must be renewed every 8 years.
Extensions of the 8 year period (temporary
licenses, driving receipts, etc.) are not permitted.
A valid CDL is necessary at all times.
●● If you move (change your address), you must apply
for a duplicate CDL (with your new address) within
10 days of moving. Apply at any DMV Service Center.
●● Any vehicle considered illegal for highway
use or for use on a skills test route, will not
be allowed for skills test purposes.
LEGAL SIZE
The load cannot extend beyond the left fender line, but it can
extend up to 6” beyond the right fender line and up to 3' beyond
the front bumper. Loads extending more than 4' beyond
the rear of the vehicle must have a red flag during daylight
hours and a red lamp during hours of darkness attached
to the end of the load. Some vehicles can exceed length
limitations as follows:
1. 48' for a semi-trailer or trailer operating
as part of a two vehicle combination.
2. 53' for a semi-trailer operating on the
interstate system or designated routes,
if distance from center of kingpin to center
of rear axle(s) is not more than 43'.
3. 28'6" for a semi-trailer or trailer operating
as part of a double-bottom.
4. 66' plus an additional overhang of 4'
to the front of the vehicle and 5' to the
rear for an automobile haulaway.
SPECIAL PERMITS
In order to move vehicles exceeding these size, weight and
load extension dimensions, a special permit is required.
For information on these moves, visit the Web site listed
inside the front cover. Alternately, you can call the Oversize/
Overweight Permit office at (608) 266-7320. Phones are
answered Monday through Friday (except Holidays) from
7:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. or call
the nearest State Patrol District office (see “Wisconsin State
Patrol Regions Map” in this manual).
The following is general information. For further information
on size (and weight) contact your nearest State Patrol
Headquarters (see “Wisconsin State Patrol Regions Map” in
this manual) for complete details.
In general, size limits in Wisconsin are:
length - single vehicle and load, 40'
length - combination of 2 vehicles and load, 65'
width - vehicle and load, 8'6"
height - vehicle and load, 13'6"
page 1:5
Section 2: Driving Safely
This section covers:
TYPES OF VEHICLE INSPECTION
●● Vehicle Inspection
Pre-Trip Inspection. A pre-trip inspection will help you find
problems that could cause a crash or breakdown.
During a Trip. For safety you should:
●● Basic Control of Your Vehicle
●● Shifting Gears
●● Seeing
●● Communicating
●● Space Management
●● Controlling Your Speed
●● Seeing Hazards
●● Distracted Driving
●● Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage
●● Night Driving
●● Driving in Fog
●● Winter Driving
●● Hot Weather Driving
●● Railroad-Highway Crossings
●● Mountain Driving
●● Driving Emergencies
●● Watch gauges for signs of trouble.
●● Use your senses to check for problems
(look, listen, smell, feel).
●● Check critical items when you stop:
»» Tires, wheels and rims.
»» Brakes.
»» Lights and reflectores.
»» Brake and electrical connections to trailer.
»» Trailer coupling devices.
»» Cargo securement devices.
After-Trip Inspection and Report. You should do an
after-trip inspection at the end of the trip, day or tour of duty
on each vehicle you operated. It may include filling out a
vehicle condition report listing any problems you find. The
inspection report helps the motor carrier know when the
vehicle needs repairs.
●● Antilock Braking Systems
●● Skid Control and Recovery
●● Accident Procedures
●● Fires
●● Alcohol, Other Drugs and Driving
●● Staying Alert and Fit to Drive
●● Hazardous Materials Rules
This section contains knowledge and safe driving information
that all commercial drivers should know. You must pass a test
on this information to get a CDL.
This section does not have specific information on air brakes,
combination vehicles, doubles or passenger vehicles.
When preparing for the Pre-trip Inspection Test, you must
review the material in Section 11 in addition to the information
in this section.
This section does have basic information on hazardous
materials (HazMat) that all drivers should know. If you need a
HazMat endorsement, you should study Section 9 in Volume 2.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Tire Problems
●● Too much or too little air pressure.
●● Bad wear. You need at least 4/32 inch tread
depth in every major groove on front tires. You
need 2/32 inch on other tires. No fabric should
show through the tread or sidewall.
●● Cuts or other damage.
●● Tread separation.
●● Dual tires that come in contact with
each other or parts of the vehicle.
●● Mismatched sizes.
●● Radial and bias-ply tires used together.
●● Cut or cracked valve stems.
●● Regrooved, recapped or retreaded tires on the
front wheels of a bus. These are prohibited.
Wheel and Rim Problems
●● Damaged rims.
2.1 Vehicle Inspection
●● Rust around lug nuts may mean the nuts are loose—
check tightness. After a tire has been changed, stop
a short while later and re-check tightness of nuts.
WHY INSPECT?
●● Missing clamps, spacers, studs or lugs means danger.
Safety for yourself and for other road users is the most
important reason you inspect your vehicle.
●● Mismatched, bent or cracked lock rings are dangerous.
A vehicle defect found during an inspection could save you
problems later. You could have a breakdown on the road that
will cost time and money or even worse, a crash caused by
the defect.
Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their
vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your
vehicles. If they judge the vehicle to be unsafe, they will put
it “out of service” until it is fixed.
●● Wheels or rims that have had
welding repairs are not safe.
Bad Brake Drums or Shoes
●● Cracked drums.
●● Shoes or pads with oil, grease or brake fluid on them.
●● Shoes or pads worn dangerously thin, missing or broken.
page 2:1
Steering System Defects (See Figure 2-1)
Figure 2-2: Key Suspension Parts
●● Missing nuts, bolts, cotter keys or other parts.
Hydraulic Shock
Abosorber
●● Bent, loose or broken parts, such as steering
column, steering gear box or tie rods.
●● If power steering equipped, check hoses,
pumps and fluid level; check for leaks.
●● Steering wheel play of more than 10 degrees
(approximately 2 inches movement at the rim of a
20-inch steering wheel) can make it hard to steer.
Leaf Spring
Vehicle Frame
Front Axle
Bearings Plate
Frame
Figure 2-1 : Examples of Steering System Key Parts
Auxiliary Spring
Steering Wheel
Tie Rod
Hanger
Steering Shaft
Main Spring
Torque Rod
Spring Shackle
Axle
Steering Arms
Figure 2-3: Safety Defect:
Broken Leaf in Leaf Spring
Broken Leaf
Steering Gear Box
Drag Link
Pitman Arm
Steering Knuckle
Spindle
Suspension System Defects. The suspension system
holds up the vehicle and its load. It keeps the axles in
place. Therefore, broken suspension parts can be extremely
dangerous. Look for:
●● Spring hangers (Figure 2-2) that allow movement
of the axle from the proper position.
Main Spring
●● Cracked or broken spring hangers.
●● Missing or broken leaves in any leaf spring. If one
fourth or more are missing, it will put the vehicle “out of
service”, but any defect could be dangerous (Figure 2-3).
●● Broken leaves in a multi-leaf spring or leaves that
have shifted so they might hit a tire or other part.
Axle
Figure 2-4: Air Suspension Parts
●● Leaking shock absorbers.
●● Torque rod or arm, U-bolts, spring hangers or other axle
positioning parts that are cracked, damaged or missing.
●● Air suspension systems that are damaged
and/or leaking (Figure 2-4).
●● Any loose, cracked, broken or missing frame members.
Height Control Valve
Frame Reinforcement
Bracket
Shock Absorber
Upper Bellows Support
U Bolt
Clamp
Bolt
Eye Bolt
Control
Arm
Axel
Anchor Plate
FRONT
page 2:2
Axel Seat
Spacer
Bellows
Lower Bellows
Support
Exhaust System Defects. A broken exhaust system can let
poison fumes into the cab or sleeper berth. Look for:
●● Loose, broken or missing exhaust pipes,
mufflers, tailpipes or vertical stacks.
●● Loose, broken or missing mounting
brackets, clamps, bolts or nuts.
●● Exhaust system parts rubbing against fuel system
parts, tires or other moving parts of the vehicle.
●● Exhaust system parts that are leaking.
Emergency Equipment. Vehicles must be equipped with
emergency equipment. Look for:
●● Fire extinguisher(s).
●● Spare electrical fuses (unless
equipped with circuit breakers).
●● Warning devices for parked vehicles (for
example, three reflective warning triangles,
6 fusees or 3 liquid burning flares).
Cargo (Trucks). You must make sure the truck is not
overloaded and the cargo is balanced and secured before
each trip. If the cargo contains hazardous materials, you must
inspect for proper papers and placarding.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What is the most important reason
for doing a vehicle inspection?
2. What things should you check during a trip?
3. Name some key steering system parts.
4. Name some suspension system defects.
5. What three kinds of emergency
equipment must you have?
around the vehicle for hazards to vehicle movement (people,
other vehicles, objects, low hanging wires, tree limbs, etc.).
Review Last Vehicle Inspection Report. Drivers
may have to make a vehicle inspection report in writing
each day. The motor carrier must repair any items in
the report that affects safety and certify on the report
that repairs were made or were unnecessary. You
must sign the report only if defects were noted and
certified to be repaired or not needed to be repaired.
Step 2:Check Engine Compartment
Make sure the parking brakes are on and/or the wheels
are chocked. You may have to raise the hood, tilt the cab
(secure loose things so they don’t fall and break something)
or open the engine compartment door. Check the following:
●● Engine oil level.
●● Coolant level in radiator; condition of hoses.
●● Power steering fluid level; hose
condition (if so equipped).
●● Windshield washer fluid level.
●● Battery fluid level, connections and tie downs
(battery may be located elsewhere).
●● Automatic transmission fluid level (may
require the engine to be running).
●● Check belts for tightness and excessive wear
(alternator, water pump, air compressor). Learn
how much “give” the belts should have when
adjusted correctly and check each one.
●● Leaks in the engine compartment (fuel, coolant, oil,
power steering fluid, hydraulic fluid, battery fluid).
●● Cracked, worn electrical wiring insulation.
Lower and secure the hood, cab or engine compartment door.
Get in vehicle.
6. What is the minimum tread depth for front tires?
Step 3:Start Engine and Inspect Inside the Cab
7. What is the minimum tread depth for other tires?
●● Make sure the parking brake is on.
●● Put the gearshift in neutral (or “park” if automatic).
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read pages 2:1 to 2:3.
CDL PRE-TRIP VEHICLE INSPECTION TEST
In order to obtain a CDL you will be required to pass a pretrip vehicle inspection test. You will be tested to see if you
know whether your vehicle is safe to drive. You will be asked
to do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and explain to the
examiner what you would inspect and why. Section 11 of this
manual tells you what to inspect and how to inspect it. The
guides shown in Section 11 may be used as a memory aid
when taking your test. The following seven-step inspection
method should be useful.
SEVEN-STEP INSPECTION METHOD
Method of Inspection. You should do a pre-trip inspection
the same way each time so you will learn all the steps and
be less likely to forget something.
Step 1:Vehicle Overview
Approaching the Vehicle. Notice general condition. Look for
damage or vehicle leaning to one side. Look under the vehicle
for fresh oil, coolant, grease or fuel leaks. Check the area
●● Start engine; listen for unusual noises.
●● If equipped, check the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
indicator lights. Light on dash should come on and then
turn off. If it stays on the ABS is not working properly.
For trailers only, if the yellow light on the left rear of
the trailer stays on, the ABS is not working properly.
Look at the Gauges
●● Oil pressure. Should come up to normal
within seconds after the engine is started.
●● Air pressure. Pressure should build from
50 to 90 psi within 3 minutes. Build air pressure to
governor cut-out (usually around 120 –
140 psi). Know your vehicles requirements.
●● Ammeter and/or voltmeter. Should
be in normal range(s).
●● Coolant temperature. Should begin
a gradual rise to normal operating range.
●● Engine oil temperature. Should begin
a gradual rise to normal operating range.
●● Warning lights and buzzers. Oil, coolant,
charging circuit warning and antilock brake
system lights should go out right away.
page 2:3
Check Condition of Controls. Check all of the following for
looseness, sticking, damage or improper setting:
General
●● Walk around and inspect.
●● Steering wheel.
●● Clean all lights, reflectors and glass as you go along.
●● Clutch.
●● Accelerator (“gas pedal”).
●● Brake controls.
»» Service (Foot) brake.
»» Trailer brake (if the vehicle has one).
»» Parking brake.
»» Retarder controls (if the vehicle has them).
●● Transmission controls.
●● Interaxle differential lock (if the vehicle has one).
●● Horn(s).
●● Windshield wipers/washers.
●● Lights.
»» Headlights.
»» Dimmer switch.
»» Turn signal.
»» Four-way flashers.
»» Parking, clearance, identification,
marker light switch(es).
Check Mirrors and Windshield. Inspect the mirrors and
windshield for cracks, dirt, illegal stickers or other vision
obstructions. Clean and adjust as necessary.
Check Emergency Equipment
●● Check for safety equipment:
»» Spare electrical fuses (unless the
vehicle has circuit breakers).
»» Three red reflective triangles, 6
fusees or 3 liquid burning flares.
»» Properly charged and rated fire extinguisher(s).
●● Check for optional items such as:
»» Tire chains (where winter
conditions require them).
»» Tire changing equipment.
»» List of emergency phone numbers.
»» Accident reporting kit (packet).
●● Check Safety Belt. Check that the safety
belt is securely mounted, adjusts, latches
properly and is not ripped or frayed.
Step 4:Turn Off Engine and Check Lights
Make sure the parking brake is set, turn off the engine
and take the key with you. Turn on the headlights (low beams)
and four-way emergency flashers and get out of the vehicle.
Step 5:Do Walk-around Inspection
●● Go to the front of the vehicle and check that low beams
are on and both of the four-way flashers are working.
●● Push the dimmer switch and check
that high beams work.
●● Turn off the headlights and four-way emergency flashers.
●● Turn on the parking, clearance, sidemarker and identification lights.
●● Turn on the right turn signal and start
the walk-around inspection.
page 2:4
Left Front Side
●● Driver’s door glass should be clean.
●● Door latches or locks must work properly.
●● Left front wheel.
»» Condition of wheel and rim—missing,
bent, broken studs, clamps, lugs
or any signs of misalignment.
»» Condition of tires:­ properly inflated, proper
tread depth, valve stem and cap OK, no
serious cuts, bulges or tread wear.
»» Use a wrench to test rust-streaked
lug nuts, indicating looseness.
»» Hub oil level OK, no leaks.
●● Left front suspension.
»» Condition of the springs, spring
hangers, shackles, U-bolts.
»» Shock absorber condition.
»» Condition of air suspension
components (if equipped).
●● Left front brake.
»» Condition of the brake drum or disc.
»» Condition of the hoses.
»» Condition of the brake shoes or pads.
»» Condition of the slack adjustor and the
brake chamber (if airbrake equipped).
Front
●● Condition of the front axle.
●● Condition of the steering system.
»» No loose, worn, bent, damaged
or missing parts.
»» Must grab the steering mechanism
to test for looseness.
●● Condition of the windshield.
»» Check for damage and clean if dirty.
»» Check the windshield wiper arms
for proper spring tension.
»» Check the wiper blades for damage,
“stiff” rubber and securement.
●● Lights and reflectors.
»» Parking, clearance and identification
lights are clean, operating and the
proper color (amber at front).
»» Reflectors are clean and the
proper color (amber at front).
»» Right front turn signal light is clean,
operating and is the proper color (amber
or white on signals facing forward).
Right Side
●● Right front: check all items as done on left front.
»» Powered axle(s) is not leaking lube (gear oil).
●● Primary and secondary safety cab locks
engaged (if cab-over-engine design).
»» Condition of the shock absorber(s).
●● Right fuel tank(s).
»» Securely mounted, not damaged or leaking.
»» Fuel crossover line is secure.
»» Tank(s) contain enough fuel.
»» Cap(s) are on and secure.
●● Condition of visible parts.
»» Rear of engine—not leaking.
»» Transmission—not leaking.
»» Exhaust system—secure, not leaking,
not touching wires, fuel or air lines.
»» Frame and cross members—
no bends or cracks.
»» Air lines and electrical wiring—secured
against snagging, rubbing or wearing.
»» Spare tire carrier or rack is not
damaged (if so equipped).
»» Spare tire and/or wheel is
securely mounted in rack.
»» Spare tire and wheel is adequate
(proper size, properly inflated).
●● Cargo securement (trucks).
»» Cargo is properly blocked,
braced, tied, chained, etc.
»» Header board is adequate and
secure (if required).
»» Side boards, stakes are strong enough, free of
damage, properly set in place (if so equipped).
»» Condition of the torque rod arms, bushings.
»» If retractable axle equipped, check
the condition of the lift mechanism.
If air powered, check for leaks.
»» Condition of air suspension
components (if equipped).
●● Brakes.
»» Brake adjustment.
»» Condition of the brake drum(s) or discs.
»» Condition of the hoses—look for
any wear due to rubbing.
»» Condition of the brake shoes or pads.
»» Condition of the slack adjusters and the
brake chamber (if air brake equipped).
●● Lights and reflectors.
»» Side-marker lights are clean, operating and are
the proper color (red at rear, others amber).
»» Side-marker reflectors are clean and are the
proper color (red at rear, others amber).
Rear
●● Lights and reflectors.
»» Rear clearance and identification
lights are clean, operating and are
the proper color (red at rear).
»» Reflectors are clean and are the
proper color (red at rear).
»» Taillights are clean, operating and are
the proper color (red at rear).
»» Right rear turn signal is operating and is the
proper color (red, yellow or amber at rear).
»» Canvas or tarp (if required) is
properly secured to prevent tearing,
billowing or blocking of mirrors.
●● License plate(s) are present, clean and secured.
»» If oversize, all required signs (flags,
lamps and reflectors) must be safely
and properly mounted and all required
permits are in driver’s possession.
●● Cargo secure (trucks).
»» Curbside cargo compartment doors are in
good condition, securely closed, latched/
locked and required security seals are in place.
Right Rear
●● Condition of wheels and rims—no missing, bent
or broken spacers, studs, clamps or lugs.
●● Condition of tires—properly inflated, proper tread
depth, valve stems and caps are okay, no serious
cuts, bulges, tread wear, tires not rubbing each
other and nothing is stuck between them.
●● Tires are of the same type, e.g., not
mixed radial and bias types.
●● Tires evenly matched (same sizes).
●● Wheel bearing/seals are not leaking.
●● Suspension.
»» Condition of spring(s), spring
hangers, shackles and U-bolts.
»» Axle is secure.
●● Splash guards are present, not damaged, properly
fastened, not dragging on the ground or rubbing tires.
»» Cargo is properly blocked,
braced, tied, chained, etc.
»» Tailboards are up and properly secured.
»» End gates are free of damage and are
properly secured in stake sockets.
»» Canvas or tarp (if required) is properly secured
to prevent tearing or billowing to block either
the rearview mirrors or to cover the rear lights.
»» If over-length or over-width, make sure all
signs and/or additional lights/flags are safely
and properly mounted and all required
permits are in the driver’s possession.
»» Rear doors are securely closed, latched/locked.
Left Side
●● Check all items same as right side, plus:
»» Battery(ies) (if not mounted in
engine compartment).
»» Battery box(es) securely mounted to vehicle.
»» Box has secure cover.
page 2:5
»» Battery(ies) secured against movement.
»» Battery(ies) not broken or leaking.
»» Fluid in battery(ies) is at the proper level
(except maintenance-free type).
»» Cell caps are present and are securely
tightened (except maintenance-free type).
»» Vents in cell caps are free of foreign
material (except maintenance-free type).
If you find anything unsafe during the pre-trip
inspection, get it fixed. Federal and state laws
forbid operating an unsafe vehicle.
INSPECTION DURING A TRIP
Check Vehicle Operation Regularly
You should check:
●● Instruments.
Step 6:Check Signal Lights
●● Air pressure gauge (if you have air brakes).
Get In and Turn Off Lights
●● Turn off all lights.
●● Temperature gauges.
●● Turn on the stop lights (apply trailer hand brake
or have a helper put on the brake pedal).
●● Ammeter / Voltmeter.
●● Turn on the left turn signal lights.
●● Tires.
Get Out and Check Lights
●● Left front turn signal light is clean, operating and is the
proper color (amber or white on signals facing the front).
●● Left rear turn signal light and both stop lights are clean,
operating and are the proper color (red, yellow or amber).
Get In Vehicle
●● Turn off any lights not needed for driving.
●● Check for all required papers, trip manifests, permits, etc.
●● Secure all loose articles in the cab (they may interfere
with operation of the controls or hit you in a crash).
●● Start the engine.
Step 7:Start the Engine and Check Brake System
Test For Hydraulic Leaks. If the vehicle has hydraulic brakes,
pump the brake pedal three times. Then apply firm pressure
to the pedal and hold for five seconds. The pedal should not
move. If it does, there may be a leak or other problem. Get it
fixed before driving.
If the vehicle has air brakes, do the checks described
in Sections 5 and 6 of this manual.
●● Pressure gauges.
●● Mirrors.
●● Cargo, cargo covers.
●● Lights.
●● Etc.
If you see, hear, smell or feel anything that might mean trouble,
check it out.
Safety Inspection
●● Drivers of trucks and truck tractors when transporting
cargo must inspect the securement of the cargo
within the first 25 miles of a trip and every 150 miles
or every 3 hours (whichever comes first) after.
AFTER-TRIP INSPECTION AND REPORT
You may have to make a written report each day on the
condition of the vehicle(s) you drove. Report anything affecting
safety or possibly leading to a mechanical breakdown.
The vehicle inspection report tells the motor carrier about
problems that may need fixing. Keep a copy of your report in
the vehicle for one day. That way, the next driver can learn
about any problems you have found.
Test Parking Brake
●● Fasten safety belt
●● Set parking brake (power unit only).
●● Release trailer parking brake (if applicable).
●● Place vehicle into a low gear.
●● Gently pull forward against parking brake
to make sure the parking brake holds.
Test Your Knowledge
1. Name some things you should check on the front
of your vehicle during the walk-around inspection.
2. What should wheel bearing seals be checked for?
3. How many red reflective triangles should you carry?
●● Repeat the same steps for the trailer with
trailer parking brake set and power unit
parking brakes released (if applicable).
4. How do you test hydraulic brakes for leaks?
●● If it doesn’t hold vehicle, it is faulty; get it fixed.
6. Why put the starter switch key in your
pocket during the pre-trip inspection?
Test Service (Foot) Brake Stopping Action
●● Go about five miles per hour.
●● Push the brake pedal firmly.
●● “Pulling” to one side or the other can mean brake trouble.
●● Any unusual brake pedal “feel” or delayed
stopping action can mean trouble.
This completes the pretrip inspection.
page 2:6
5. Can you bring the “vehicle inspection
memory aide” with you to the test?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read the seven-step inspection
method on pages 2:3 through 2:6.
2.2 Basic Control of Your Vehicle
To drive a vehicle safely, you must be able to control its
speed and direction. Safe operation of a commercial vehicle
requires skill in:
●● Accelerating.
●● Steering.
●● Stopping.
●● Backing safely.
Fasten your seatbelt when on the road. Apply the parking
brake when you leave your vehicle.
STARTING OUT
Don’t roll back when you start. You may hit someone behind
you. Partly engage the clutch before you take your right foot
off the brake. Put on the parking brake whenever necessary to
keep from rolling back. Release the parking brake only when
you have applied enough engine power to keep from rolling
back. On a tractor-trailer equipped with a trailer brake hand
valve, the hand valve can be applied to keep from rolling back.
ACCELERATING
Speed up smoothly and gradually so the vehicle does not
jerk. Rough acceleration can cause mechanical damage.
When pulling a trailer, rough acceleration can damage the
coupling device.
Speed up very gradually when traction is poor, as in rain or
snow. If you use too much power, the drive wheels may spin.
You could lose control. If the drive wheels begin to spin, take
your foot off the accelerator.
These rules are discussed in more detail below.
Start in the Proper Position. Put the vehicle in the best
position to allow you to back safely. This position will depend
on the type of backing to be done.
Look at Your Path. Look at your line of travel before you
begin. Get out and walk around the vehicle. Check your
clearance to the sides and overhead in and near the path
your vehicle will take.
Use Mirrors on Both Sides. Check the outside mirrors on
both sides frequently. Get out of the vehicle and check your
path if you are unsure.
Back Slowly. Activate four-way hazard lights before backing.
Always back as slowly as possible. Use the lowest reverse
gear. That way you can more easily correct any steering errors
You can also stop quickly if necessary.
Back And Turn Toward The Driver’s Side So You Can
See Better. Backing toward the right side is very dangerous
because you can’t see as well. If you back and turn toward
the driver’s side, you can watch the rear of your vehicle by
looking out the side window. Use driver-side backing even if
it means going around the block to put your vehicle in this
position. The added safety is worth it.
Use a Helper When You Can. There are blind spots you
can’t see. That’s why a helper is important.
The helper should stand near the back of your vehicle where
you can see the helper. Before you begin backing, work out
a set of hand signals that you both understand. Agree on a
signal for “stop.”
BACKING WITH A TRAILER
STEERING
Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands. Your hands
should be on opposite sides of the wheel. If you hit a curb or
a pothole (chuckhole), the wheel could pull away from your
hands unless you have a firm hold.
STOPPING
Push the brake pedal down gradually. The amount of brake
pressure you need to stop the vehicle will depend on the speed
of the vehicle and how quickly you need to stop. Control the
pressure so the vehicle comes to a smooth, safe stop. If you
have a manual transmission, push the clutch in when the
engine is close to idle.
BACKING SAFELY
Because you cannot see everything behind your vehicle,
backing is always dangerous. Avoid backing whenever
you can. When you park, try to park so you will be able to pull
forward when you leave. When you have to back, here are a
few simple safety rules:
●● Start in the proper position.
When backing a car, straight truck or bus, you turn the top of
the steering wheel toward the direction you want to go. When
backing a trailer, you turn the steering wheel in the opposite
direction. Once the trailer starts to turn, you must turn the
wheel the other way to follow the trailer.
Whenever you back with a trailer, try to position your vehicle
so you can back in a straight line. If you must back on a curved
path, back to the driver’s side so you can see.
Back Slowly. This will let you make corrections before you
get too far off course.
Use the Mirrors. The mirrors will help you see whether the
trailer is drifting to one side or the other.
Correct Drift Immediately. As soon as you see the trailer
getting off the proper path, correct it by turning the top of the
steering wheel in the direction of the drift.
Pull Forward. When backing a trailer, make pull-ups to
reposition your vehicle as needed.
G.O.A.L. Get out and look if you are unsure what is behind you.
●● Look at your path.
●● Use mirrors on both sides.
●● Back slowly using the 4-way hazard lights.
Test Your Knowledge
●● Back and turn toward the driver’s
side whenever possible.
1. Why should you back toward the driver’s side?
●● Use a helper whenever possible.
3. If stopped on a hill, how can you start
moving without rolling back?
●● Get out and look.
2. What is a pull-up?
page 2:7
4. When backing, why is it important to use a helper?
5. What is the most important hand signal that
you and the helper should agree on?
Downshifting, like upshifting, requires knowing when to shift.
Use either the tachometer or the speedometer and downshift
at the right RPM or road speed.
Special conditions where you should downshift are:
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 2.2: Basic Control
of Your Vehicle.
2.3 Shifting Gears
Correct shifting of gears is important. If you can’t get your
vehicle into the right gear while driving, you will have less
control.
Before Starting Down a Hill. Slow down and shift down to
a speed that you can control without using the brakes hard.
Otherwise the brakes can overheat and lose their braking power.
Downshift before starting down the hill. Make sure you are
in a low enough gear. Gear selection should be based on the
steepness of the grade, weather, road conditions and your load.
Before Entering a Curve. Slow down to a safe speed and
downshift to the correct gear before entering the curve. This
lets you use some power through the curve to help the vehicle
be more stable while turning. It also lets you speed up as soon
as you are out of the curve.
MANUAL TRANSMISSIONS
Basic Method for Shifting Up. Most heavy vehicles with
manual transmissions require double clutching to change
gears. This is the basic method:
1. Release the accelerator, push in the clutch
and shift to neutral at the same time.
2. Release the clutch.
3. Let the engine and gears slow down to the RPM
required for the next gear (this takes practice).
4. Push in the clutch and shift to the
higher gear at the same time.
5. Release the clutch and press the
accelerator at the same time.
Shifting gears using double clutching requires practice. If you
remain too long in neutral, you may have difficulty putting the
vehicle into the next gear. If so, don’t try to force it. Return
to neutral, release the clutch, increase the engine speed to
match the road speed and try again.
Knowing When to Shift Up. There are two ways of knowing
when to shift:
Use Engine Speed (RPM). Study the owner’s manual for
your vehicle and learn the operating RPM range. Watch
your tachometer and shift up when your engine reaches the
top of the range. (Some newer vehicles use “progressive”
shifting: the RPM at which you shift becomes higher as you
move up in the gears. Find out what’s right for the vehicle
you will operate.).
Use Road Speed (MPH). Learn what speeds each gear is
good for. Then, by using the speedometer, you’ll know when
to shift up.
With either method, you may learn to use engine sounds to
know when to shift.
MULTI-SPEED REAR AXLES AND
AUXILIARY TRANSMISSIONS
Multi-speed rear axles and auxiliary transmissions are used
on many vehicles to provide extra gears. You usually control
them by a selector knob or switch on the gearshift lever of
the main transmission. There are many different shift patterns.
Learn the right way to shift gears in the vehicle you will drive.
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS
Some vehicles have automatic transmissions. You can select
a low range to get greater engine braking when going down
grades. The lower ranges prevent the transmission from
shifting up beyond the selected gear (unless the governor
RPM is exceeded). It is very important to use this braking
effect when going down grades.
RETARDERS
Some vehicles have retarders which help slow a vehicle,
reducing the need for using your brakes. They reduce brake
wear and give you another way to slow down. There are four
basic types of retarders (exhaust, engine, hydraulic, electric).
All retarders can be turned on or off by the driver. On some
vehicles, the retarding power can be adjusted. When turned
“on,” retarders apply their braking power (to the drive wheels
only) whenever you let up on the accelerator pedal all the way.
Because these devices can be noisy, be sure you know where
their use is permitted.
Caution. When your drive wheels have poor traction,
the retarder can cause them to skid. Therefore, you
should turn the retarder off whenever the road is wet,
icy or snow covered.
Basic Procedures for Shifting Down
1. Release the accelerator, push in the clutch
and shift to neutral at the same time.
2. Release the clutch.
3. Press the accelerator, increase the engine and
gear speed to the RPM required in the lower gear.
4. Push in the clutch and shift to a
lower gear at the same time.
5. Release the clutch and press the
accelerator at the same time.
Test Your Knowledge.
1. What are the two special conditions
where you should downshift?
2. When should you downshift automatic transmissions?
3. True or False? Retarders keep you from
skidding when the road is slippery.
4. What are the two ways to know when to shift?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 2.3: Shifting Gears.
page 2:8
2.4 Seeing
To be a safe driver you need to know what’s going on all around
your vehicle. Not looking properly is a major cause of crashes.
SEEING AHEAD
All drivers look ahead; but many don’t
look far enough ahead.
Importance of Looking Far Enough Ahead. Because
stopping or changing lanes can take a lot of distance, knowing
what the traffic is doing on all sides of you is very important.
You need to look well ahead to make sure you have room to
make these moves safely.
How Far Ahead to Look. Most good drivers look 12 to 15
seconds ahead. That means looking ahead the distance you
will travel in 12 to 15 seconds. At lower speeds, that’s about
one block. At highway speeds it’s about a quarter of a mile.
If you’re not looking that far ahead, you may have to stop
too quickly or make quick lane changes. Looking 12 to 15
seconds ahead doesn’t mean not paying attention to things
that are closer. Good drivers shift their attention back and
forth, near and far.
Look for Traffic. Look for vehicles coming onto the highway,
into your lane or turning. Watch for brakelights from slowing
vehicles. By seeing these things far enough ahead, you can
change your speed or change lanes, if necessary, to avoid
a problem.
Look ahead to traffic signals and signs. If a light has been
green for a long time, it will probably change before you get
there. Start slowing down and be ready to stop.
SEEING TO THE SIDES AND REAR
It is important to know what’s going on behind and to the
sides. Check your mirrors regularly. Check more often in
special situations.
Mirror Adjustment. Mirror adjustment should be checked
prior to the start of any trip and can only be checked accurately
when the trailer(s) are straight. You should check and adjust
each mirror to show some part of the vehicle. This will give you
a reference point for judging the position of the other images.
Regular Checks. You need to make regular checks of your
mirrors to be aware of traffic and to check your vehicle.
Traffic. Check your mirrors for vehicles on either side and
behind you. In an emergency, you may need to know whether
you can make a quick lane change. Use your mirrors to spot
overtaking vehicles. There are “blind spots” that your mirrors
cannot show you. Check your mirrors regularly to know where
other vehicles are around you and to see if they move into
your blind spots.
Check Your Vehicle. Use the mirrors to keep an eye on
your tires. It’s one way to spot a tire fire. If you’re carrying open
cargo, you can use the mirrors to check it. Look for loose straps,
ropes or chains. Watch for a flapping or ballooning tarp.
Special Situations. Special situations require more than
regular mirror checks. These are lane changes, turns, merges
and tight maneuvers.
Lane Changes. You need to check your mirror to make sure no
one is alongside you or about to pass you. Check your mirrors:
●● Before you change lanes to make
sure there is enough room.
●● After you have signaled to make sure no
one has moved into your blind spot.
●● Right after you start the lane change to
double-check that your path is clear.
●● After you complete the lane change.
Turns. In turns, check your mirrors to make sure the rear of
your vehicle will not hit anything.
Merges. When merging, use your mirrors to make sure the
gap in traffic is large enough for you to enter safely.
Tight Maneuvers. Any time you are driving in close quarters
check your mirrors often. Make sure you have enough clearance.
How to Use Mirrors. Use mirrors correctly by checking them
quickly and understanding what you see.
●● Checking quickly. When you use your mirrors while
driving on the road, check quickly. Look back and forth
between the mirrors and the road ahead. Don’t focus on
the mirrors for too long. Otherwise, you will travel quite
a distance without knowing what’s happening ahead.
●● Understanding what you see. Many large vehicles
have curved (convex, “fisheye,” “spot,” “bugeye”)
mirrors that show a wider area than flat mirrors. This
is often helpful. But everything appears smaller in a
convex mirror than it would if you were looking at it
directly. Things also seem farther away than they really
are. It’s important to realize this and to allow for it.
2.5. Communicating
Other drivers can’t know what you are going to do until you
tell them.
SIGNAL YOUR INTENTIONS
Signaling what you intend to do is important for safety. Here
are some general rules for signaling.
Turns. There are three good rules for using turn signals:
1. Signal early. Signal well before you turn. It is the
best way to keep others from trying to pass you.
2. Signal continuously. You need both hands
on the wheel to turn safely. Don’t cancel the
signal until you have completed the turn.
3. Cancel your signal. Don’t forget to turn off
your turn signal after you’ve turned (if you
don’t have self-canceling signals).
Lane Changes. Put your turn signal on before changing
lanes. Change lanes slowly and smoothly. That way a driver
you didn’t see may have a chance to honk his/her horn or
avoid your vehicle.
Slowing Down. Warn drivers behind you when you see you’ll
need to slow down. A few light taps on the brake pedal—
enough to flash the brake lights—should warn following
drivers. Use the four-way emergency flashers for times when
you are driving very slow or are stopped. Warn other drivers
in any of the following situations:
●● Trouble Ahead. The size of your vehicle may make
it hard for drivers behind you to see hazards ahead. If
you see a hazard that will require slowing down, warn
the drivers behind you by flashing your brake lights.
●● Tight Turns. Most car drivers don’t know how
slow you have to go to make a tight turn in a
page 2:9
large vehicle. Give drivers behind you warning
by braking early and slowing gradually.
●● Stopping on the Road. Truck and bus
drivers sometimes stop in the road to unload
cargo or passengers or to stop at a railroad
crossing. Warn following drivers by flashing
your brake lights. Don’t stop suddenly.
Use Your Horn When Needed. Your horn can let others
know you’re there. It can help to avoid a crash. Use your
horn when needed. However, it can startle others and could
be dangerous when used unnecessarily.
Figure 2-5: Warning Device Placement: Two Lane
(traffic in both directions) or Undivided Highway
●● Driving Slowly. Drivers often do not realize how
fast they are catching up to a slow vehicle until
they are very close. If you must drive slowly, alert
following drivers by turning on your emergency
flashers if it is legal. (Laws regarding the use of
flashers differ from one state to another. Check
the laws of the states where you will drive.).
100'
Don’t Direct Traffic. Some drivers try to help out others by
signaling when it is safe to pass. You should not do this. You
could cause an accident. You could be blamed and it could
cost you many thousands of dollars.
COMMUNICATING YOUR PRESENCE
Other drivers may not notice your vehicle even when it’s in plain
sight. Let them know you’re there to help prevent accidents.
10'
100'
When Passing. Whenever you are about to pass a vehicle,
pedestrian or bicyclist, assume they don’t see you. They could
suddenly move in front of you. Drive carefully enough to avoid
a crash even if they don’t see or hear you.
When It’s Hard to See. At dawn or dusk or in rain or snow,
you need to make yourself easier to see. If you are having
trouble seeing other vehicles, other drivers will have trouble
seeing you. Turn on your lights. Use the headlights, not just
the identification or clearance lights. Use the low beams; high
beams can bother people in the daytime as well as at night.
Figure 2-6: Warning Device Placement: Obstructed View
HILL
When Parked at the Side of the Road. When you pull off
the road and stop, be sure to turn on the four-way emergency
flashers. This is important at night. Don’t trust the taillights to
give warning. Drivers have crashed into the rear of a parked
vehicle because they thought it was moving normally.
If you must stop on a road or the shoulder of any road, you must
put out your emergency warning devices within 10 minutes.
Place your warning devices at the following locations:
●● If you stop on a two-lane road carrying traffic in both
directions or on an undivided highway, place warning
devices within 10 feet of the front or rear corners to
mark the location of the vehicle and 100 feet behind
and ahead of the vehicle, on the shoulder or in the
lane in which you are stopped. See Figure 2-5.
●● Back beyond any hill, curve or other obstruction that
prevents other drivers from seeing the vehicle within
500 feet. If line of sight view is obstructed due to hill
or curve, move the rear-most triangle to a point back
down the road so warning is provided. See Figure 2-6.
●● If you must stop on or by a one-way or divided highway,
place warning devices 10 feet, 100 feet and 200 feet
toward the approaching traffic. See Figure 2-7.
When putting out the triangles, hold them between yourself
and the oncoming traffic for your own safety so other drivers
can see you.
page 2:10
100' to
500'
10'
100'
100' to
500'
CURVE
10'
100'
Figure 2-7: Warning Device Placement:
One Way or Divided Highway
The Effect of Speed on Stopping Distance. The faster you
drive, the greater the impact or striking power of your vehicle.
When you double your speed from 20 to 40 mph the impact is
4 times greater. The braking distance is also 4 times longer.
Triple the speed from 20 to 60 mph and the impact and braking
distance is 9 times greater. At 60 mph, your stopping distance
is greater than the length of a football field. Increase the speed
to 80 mph and the impact and braking distance are 16 times
greater than at 20 mph. High speeds greatly increase the
severity of crashes and stopping distances. By slowing down,
you can gain a lot in reduced braking distance.
The Effect of Vehicle Weight on Stopping Distance. The
heavier the vehicle, the more work the brakes must do to stop it
and the more heat they absorb. But the brakes, tires, springs and
shock absorbers on heavy vehicles are designed to work best
when the vehicle is fully loaded. Empty trucks require greater
stopping distances, because an empty vehicle has less traction.
10'
100'
MATCHING SPEED TO THE ROAD SURFACE
100'
2.6 Controlling Speed
Driving too fast is a major cause of fatal crashes. You must
adjust your speed depending on driving conditions. These
include traction, curves, visibility, traffic and hills.
SPEED AND STOPPING DISTANCES
There are three things that add up to total stopping distance:
Perception Distance
+ Reaction Distance
+ Braking Distance
= Total Stopping Distance
●● Perception distance. This is the distance your
vehicle travels in ideal conditions from the time your
eyes see a hazard until your brain recognizes it. Keep
in mind certain mental and physical conditions can
affect your perception distance. It can be affected
greatly depending on visibility and the hazard itself.
The average perception time for an alert driver is 1¾
seconds. At 55 mph this accounts for 142 feet traveled.
●● Reaction distance. The distance traveled from
the time your brain tells your foot to move from the
accelerator until your foot is actually pushing the
brake pedal. The average driver has a reaction
time of ¾ second to one second. This accounts
for an additional 61 feet traveled at 55 mph.
●● Braking distance. The distance it takes to
stop in ideal conditions once the brakes are
applied. At 55 mph on dry pavement with good
brakes it can take about 216 feet to stop.
●● Total stopping distance. The total minimum distance
your vehicle has traveled, in ideal conditions; with
everything considered, including perception distance,
reaction distance and braking distance, until you
can bring your vehicle to a complete stop. At 55
mph, your vehicle will travel a minimum of 419 feet.
You can’t steer or brake a vehicle unless you have traction.
Traction is friction between the tires and the road. There are some
road conditions that reduce traction and call for lower speeds.
Slippery Surfaces. It will take longer to stop and it will be
harder to turn without skidding when the road is slippery. You
must drive slower to be able to stop in the same distance as on
a dry road. Wet roads can double stopping distance. Reduce
speed by about one third (e.g., slow from 55 to about 35 mph)
on a wet road. On packed snow, reduce speed by a half or
more. If the surface is icy, reduce speed to a crawl and stop
driving as soon as you can safely do so.
Identifying Slippery Surfaces. Sometimes it is hard to know
if the road is slippery. Here are some signs of slippery roads:
●● Shaded areas. Shady parts of the road will remain
icy and slippery long after open areas have melted.
●● Bridges. When the temperature drops, bridges will
freeze before the road will. Be especially careful when
the temperature is close to 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
●● Melting ice. Slight melting will make ice wet. Wet
ice is much more slippery than ice that is not wet.
●● Black ice. Black ice is a thin layer that is clear enough
that you can see the road underneath it. It makes
the road look wet. Any time the temperature is below
freezing and the road looks wet, watch out for black ice.
●● Vehicle icing. An easy way to check for ice is to
open the window and feel the front of the mirror,
mirror support or antenna. If there’s ice on these, the
road surface is probably starting to ice up, too.
●● Just after rain begins. Right after it starts to
rain, the water mixes with oil left on the road by
vehicles. This makes the road very slippery. If
the rain continues, it will wash the oil away.
●● Hydroplaning. In some weather, water or slush
collects on the road. When this happens, your vehicle
can hydroplane. It’s like water skiing; the tires lose
their contact with the road and have little or no traction.
You may not be able to steer or brake. You can regain
control by releasing the accelerator and pushing in the
clutch. This will slow your vehicle and let the wheels
turn freely. If the vehicle is hydroplaning, do not use
the brakes to slow down. If the drive wheels start
to skid, push in the clutch to let them turn freely.
page 2:11
It does not take a lot of water to cause hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 30 mph if there
is a lot of water. Hydroplaning is more likely if tire pressure
is low or the tread is worn. (The grooves in a tire carry away
the water; if they aren’t deep, they don’t work well.)
Road surfaces where water can collect can create conditions
that cause a vehicle to hydroplane. Watch for clear reflections,
tire splashes and raindrops on the road. These are indications
of standing water often deep enough to cause hydroplaning.
SPEED AND CURVES
Drivers must adjust their speed for curves in the road. If you
take a curve too fast, two things can happen. The tires can
lose their traction and continue straight ahead, so you skid off
the road. Or, the tires may keep their traction and the vehicle
rolls over. Tests have shown that trucks with a high center of
gravity can roll over at the posted speed limit for a curve.
Slow to a safe speed before you enter a curve. Braking in a
curve is dangerous because it is easier to lock the wheels and
cause a skid. Slow down as needed. Don’t ever exceed the
posted speed limit for the curve. Be in a gear that will let you
accelerate slightly in the curve. This will help you keep control.
SPEED AND DISTANCE AHEAD
You should always be able to stop within the distance you
can see ahead. Fog, rain or other conditions may require that
you slow down to be able to stop within the distance you can
see. At night, you can’t see as far with low beams as you can
with high beams. When you must use low beams, slow down.
SPEED AND TRAFFIC FLOW
When you’re driving in heavy traffic, the safest speed is the
speed of other vehicles. Vehicles going the same direction at
the same speed are not likely to run into one another. Drive at
the speed of the traffic, if you can, without going at an illegal
or unsafe speed. Keep a safe following distance.
The main reason drivers exceed speed limits is to save time.
But anyone trying to drive faster than the speed of traffic will
not be able to save much time. The risks involved are not worth
it. If you go faster than the speed of other traffic, you will need
to keep passing other vehicles. This increases the chance of
a crash and it is more tiring. Fatigue increases the chance
of a crash. Going with the flow of traffic is safer and easier.
SPEED ON DOWNGRADES
Your vehicle’s speed will increase on downgrades because of
gravity. Your most important objective is to select and maintain
a speed that is not too fast for the:
●● Total weight of the vehicle and cargo.
●● Length of the grade.
●● Steepness of the grade.
Save your brakes so you will be able to slow or stop as required
by road and traffic conditions. Shift your transmission to a
low gear before starting down the grade and use the proper
braking techniques.
Carefully read Section 2.13 “Mountain Driving” on going down
long, steep downgrades safely.
ROADWAY WORK ZONES
Speeding traffic is the number one cause of injury and death
in roadway work zones. Observe the posted speed limits at
all times when approaching and driving through a work zone.
Watch your speedometer, and don’t allow your speed to creep
up as you drive through long sections of road construction.
Decrease your speed for adverse weather or road conditions.
Decrease your speed even further when a worker is close to
the roadway.
Test Your Knowledge
1. How far ahead should you look?
2. What are two main things to look for ahead?
3. What’s your most important way to see
the sides and rear of your vehicle?
4. What does “communicating “ mean in safe driving?
5. Where should your reflectors be placed
when stopped on a divided highway?
6. What three things add up to total stopping distance?
7. If you go twice as fast, will your stopping
distance increase by two or four times?
8. True or False? Empty trucks have the best braking.
9. What is hydroplaning?
10. What is “black ice?”
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6.
2.7 Managing Space
To be a safe driver, you need space all around your vehicle.
When things go wrong, space gives you time to think, react
and take action.
To have space available when something goes wrong, you
need to manage space. While this is true for all drivers, it is
very important for large vehicles. They take up more space
and they require more space for stopping and turning.
SPACE AHEAD
●● Weather.
Of all the space around your vehicle, it is the area ahead of
the vehicle — the space you’re driving into — that is most
important.
If a speed limit is posted or there is a sign indicating “Maximum
Safe Speed,” never exceed the speed shown. Also, look for
and heed warning signs indicating the length and steepness
of the grade. You must use the braking effect of the engine
as the principal way of controlling your speed on downgrades.
The braking effect of the engine is greatest when it is near the
governed RPMs and the transmission is in the lower gears.
The Need for Space Ahead. You need space ahead in case
you must suddenly stop. According to accident reports, the
vehicle that trucks and buses most often run into is the one
in front of them. The most frequent cause is following too
closely. Remember, if the vehicle ahead of you is smaller
than yours, it can probably stop faster than you can. You may
crash if you are following too closely.
●● Road conditions.
page 2:12
How Much Space? How much space should you keep in front
of you? One good rule says you need at least one second
for each 10 feet of vehicle length at speeds below 40 mph.
At greater speeds, you must add one second for safety. For
example, if you are driving a 40-foot vehicle, you should leave
4 seconds between you and the vehicle ahead. In a 60-foot rig,
you’ll need 6 seconds. Over 40 mph, you’d need 5 seconds for
a 40-foot vehicle and 7 seconds for a 60-foot vehicle.
To know how much space you have, wait until the vehicle
ahead passes a shadow on the road, a pavement marking or
some other clear landmark. Then count off the seconds like
this: “one thousand-and-one, one thousand-and-two” and
so on, until you reach the same spot. Compare your count
with the rule of one second for every 10 feet of length. If you
are driving a 40 foot truck and only counted up to 2 seconds,
you’re too close. Drop back a little and count again until you
have 4 seconds of following distance (or 5 seconds, if you’re
going over 40 mph). After a little practice, you will know how
far back you should be. Remember to add one second for
speeds above 40 mph. Also remember that when the road is
slippery, you need much more space to stop.
SPACE BEHIND
You can’t stop others from following you too closely. But there
are things you can do to make it safer.
Stay to the Right. Heavy vehicles are often tailgated when
they can’t keep up with the speed of traffic. This often happens
when you’re going uphill. If a heavy load is slowing you down,
stay in the right lane if you can. Going uphill, you should
not pass another slow vehicle unless you can get around it
quickly and safely.
Dealing with Tailgaters Safely. In a large vehicle, it’s often
hard to see whether a vehicle is close behind you. You may
be tailgated:
●● When you are traveling slowly. Drivers trapped
behind slow vehicles often follow closely.
●● In bad weather. Many car drivers follow large
vehicles closely during bad weather, especially
when it is hard to see the road ahead.
If you find yourself being tailgated, here are some things you
can do to reduce the chances of a crash:
●● Avoid quick changes. If you have to slow down or
turn, signal early and reduce speed gradually.
●● Increase your following distance. Opening up room
in front of you will help you to avoid having to make
sudden speed or direction changes. It also makes
it easier for the tailgater to get around you.
●● Don’t speed up. It’s safer to be tailgated
at a low speed than a high speed.
●● Avoid tricks. Don’t turn on your taillights or flash
your brake lights. Follow the suggestions above.
SPACE TO THE SIDES
Staying Centered in a Lane. You need to keep your vehicle
centered in the lane to keep safe clearance on either side. If
your vehicle is wide, you have little room to spare.
Traveling Next to Others. There are two dangers in traveling
alongside other vehicles:
●● Another driver may change lanes
suddenly and turn into you.
●● You may be trapped when you need to change lanes.
Find an open spot where you aren’t near other traffic. When
traffic is heavy, it may be hard to find an open spot. If you
must travel near other vehicles, try to keep as much space
as possible between you and them. Also, drop back or pull
forward so that you are sure the other driver can see you.
Strong Winds. Strong winds make it difficult to stay in your
lane. The problem is usually worse for lighter vehicles. This
problem can be especially bad coming out of tunnels. Don’t
drive alongside others if you can avoid it.
SPACE OVERHEAD
Hitting overhead objects is a danger. Make sure you always
have overhead clearance.
Don’t assume that the heights posted at bridges and
overpasses are correct. Re-paving or packed snow may
have reduced the clearances since the heights were posted.
The weight of a cargo van changes its height. An empty van
is higher than a loaded one. If you got under a bridge when
you were loaded, that does not necessarily mean you can do
it when you are empty.
If you doubt you have safe space to pass under an object, go
slowly. If you aren’t sure you can make it, take another route.
Warnings are often posted on low bridges or underpasses,
but sometimes they are not.
Some roads can cause a vehicle to tilt. There can be a problem
clearing objects along the edge of the road, such as signs,
trees or bridge supports. Where this is a problem, drive a little
closer to the center of the road.
Before you back into an area, get out and look (G.O.A.L.)
for overhanging objects, such as trees, branches or electric
wires. It’s easy to miss seeing them while you are backing.
Also check for other hazards at the same time.
SPACE BELOW
Many drivers forget about the space under their vehicles. That
space can be very small when a vehicle is heavily loaded. This
is often a problem on dirt roads and in unpaved yards where
the surface can wear away. Don’t take a chance on getting
hung up. Drainage channels across roads can cause the end
of some vehicles to drag. Cross such depressions carefully.
Railroad tracks can also cause problems, particularly when
pulling trailers with a low underneath clearance. Don’t take a
chance on getting hung up halfway across.
Commercial vehicles are often wide and take up most of a
lane. Safe drivers will manage what little space they have. You
can do this by keeping your vehicle centered in your lane and
avoid driving alongside others.
page 2:13
The space around a truck or bus is important in turns. Because
of wide turning and offtracking, large vehicles can hit other
vehicles or objects during turns.
Right Turns. Here are some rules to help prevent right-turn
crashes:
●● Turn slowly to give yourself and others
more time to avoid problems.
●● Don’t turn wide to the left as you start the turn, as
shown in Figure 2-9. A following driver may think you
are turning left and try to pass you on the right. You may
crash into the other vehicle as you complete your turn.
●● If you must cross into the oncoming lane to make a
turn, watch out for vehicles coming toward you. Give
them room to go by or to stop. However, don’t back up
for them, because you might hit someone behind you.
Figure 2-8: Figure 2-9: CorrectIncorrect
Left Turns. On a left turn, make sure you have reached the
center of the intersection before you start the left turn. If you
turn too soon, the left side of your vehicle may hit another
vehicle because of off tracking.
After you have completed your turn, move into the right most
traffic lane when traffic is clear. See Figure 2-10.
If there are two turning lanes, always take the right-hand turn
lane, as shown in Figure 2-11. Don’t start in the inside lane
because you may have to swing right to make the turn. Drivers
on your left can be more readily seen.
Figure 2-10: Turn into the lane closest to the lane from
which you came. Allow for off tracking if your vehicle is long.
Return to right-most traffic lane when safe and traffic permits.
Don’t return to the right lane at or near other intersections.
Long V
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page 2:14
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●● If you are driving a truck or bus that cannot make the
right turn without swinging into another lane, turn wide
as you complete the turn, as shown in Figure 2-8.
Keep the rear of your vehicle close to the curb. This
will stop other drivers from passing you on the right.
Figure 2-11: If there are two left turn lanes,
use the right-hand lane.
ONLY
SPACE FOR TURNS
ONLY
CIRCULAR INTERSECTIONS
There are different types of circular intersections:
Roundabouts. A Modern Roundabout usually is referred as
a roundabout. The circular design of the roundabout is far
different than either the large traffic circle or the mini traffic
circle. Roundabouts are designed with an average outside
diameter of 120'–250' depending on the number of lanes.
They are designed to allow low speed entry and low speed
circulating traffic with yield control at all entries.
A single lane approach to a roundabout is the simplest type of
approach consisting of only one lane. Truck aprons are often
included on single lane entries to allow off-tracking of turning
trucks or to allow oversized-overweight vehicles to navigate
the intersection.
Generally there are two types of pavement marking
at the approach to a dual lane roundabout. See figures 2.11a­–f
on the next two pages.
Large traffic circles or rotaries. Large traffic circles or
rotaries are typically located in the eastern part of the US.
These are larger circles typically 600 feet to 800 feet in
diameter. They are typically signed and marked to require
vehicles on the circle to yield to those vehicles entering
the circle. They typically allow speeds of 35–50mph on the
circle. They allow large trucks to navigate into and around
the circle easily. There may be a large park area in the center
with some parking allowed along the inside edge of the
circle. Over the years since their original installation traffic
volumes have increased substantially and they have become
more of a safety hazard. Some of the large traffic circles
are being removed and replaced with other types of intersection control such as the smaller, safer, and more efficient
modern roundabout.
Small mini traffic circles. Small mini traffic circles are
typically located in residential or neighborhood areas of a
community. They are rather small raised curb islands, 10'–50'
in diameter, in the middle of a typical 4-legged intersection.
Many times the approach will be signed with stop signs on
2 or possibly all 4 legs of the intersection. They are typically
very unfriendly for large trucks to make turns or go through
the intersection. In northern climates they may be difficult for
full sized snowplows to navigate.
Figure 2.11a (below) shows a typical single white
pavement marking line separating the entry lanes. In
this situation a large truck is expected to straddle the
lanes at entry to make any maneuver, be it a through
movement, right or left turn. Generally, truckers will try 3
to protect the right side of their vehicle by not allowing
other autos from driving on their right side, or blind side.
Figure 2.11c: (below) The semi is traveling from the right
toward the left and it shows a single white line between
the lanes at entry. The large truck is making a left turn
by straddling the lanes, or encroaching into the adjacent
lane on the right, at the entry as well as circulating the
roundabout and using the truck apron for off-tracking.
Figure 2.11c: Lane separation, single line, left turn
Figure 2.11a: WIS 30 and Thompson Drive in Madison
Legend
front tractor tires
rear trailer tires
Figure 2.11b (below) shows an occasional entry with
double white lines that provide a separation between
the entry lanes. In this situation a large truck is expected
to stay in its lane when approaching the roundabout.
a. Trucks making a right turn should keep the
tractor to the left side of the double white lines,
then straddle the double white lines without
4
encroaching into the left lane, to allow off-tracking
to the right side as the turn is completed.
b.Trucks making a left turn should keep the tractor
to the far left side of the left lane and the double
white lines. As the tractor moves ahead, the trailer
will first off-track to the right and use the space
between the white lines. As the tractor moves into
the roundabout, the tractor should stay in the left lane
while the trailer will off-track onto the truck apron.
c. Trucks making a through movement from the right
lane should keep the tractor to the left side of the
double white lines and straddle the white lines at
entry. Then as the truck pulls forward drive the
tractor to the far right, or outside of the circle. Trucks
making a through movement from the left lane
should keep the tractor to the left side of the left
lane and allow the trailer to off-track into the double
white line area at entry. Then as the truck pulls
forward keep the tractor within the inside lane and
allow the trailer to off-track onto the truck apron.
Figure 2.11d: (below) The semi is traveling from the right
toward the left and it shows double white lines that separate
the lanes at entry. The large truck is making a left turn by
driving to the far left and staying in-lane while using the
area between the double white lines for off-tracking at entry
and using the truck apron for off-tracking in the roundabout.
Figure 2.11d: Lane separation, wide gore, left turn
Legend
front tractor tires
rear trailer tires
Figure 2.11b: STH 35 and Hanley Road near Hudson
page 2:15
Figure 2.11e; (below) The semi is traveling from the
right toward the left and it shows double white lines that
separate the lanes at entry. The large truck is making
a right turn by driving to the left side of the double white
lines and staying in-lane to swing wide and make the
right turn, without running over the outside curb.
Figure 2.11e: Lane separation, wide gore, right turn
SPACE NEEDED TO CROSS OR ENTER TRAFFIC
Be aware of the size and weight of your vehicle when you
cross or enter traffic. Here are some important things to
keep in mind:
●● Because of slow acceleration and the space large
vehicles require, you may need a much larger
gap to enter traffic than you would in a car.
●● Acceleration varies with the load. Allow more
room if your vehicle is heavily loaded.
●● Before you start across a road, make sure you can
get all the way across before traffic reaches you.
Legend
front tractor tires
rear trailer tires
2.8 Seeing Hazards
IMPORTANCE OF SEEING HAZARDS
Figure 2.11f: (below) The semi is traveling from the
right toward the left and it shows double white lines
that separate the lanes at entry. The large truck is
making a through movement from the right lane. This
requires the tractor to drive to the left side of the double
white lines at entry, while staying in-lane. Then as the
truck pulls forward drive the tractor to the far right, or
outside of the circle. This maneuver will reduce the offtracking into the adjacent left lane. Some roundabout
designs will have an outside lane wide enough to
allow the truck to stay in-lane in the roundabout.
6
What Constitutes a Hazard? A hazard is any road condition
or other road user (driver, bicyclist, pedestrian) that is a
possible danger. For example, a car in front of you is headed
towards the freeway exit, but his brake lights come on and he
begins braking hard. This could mean the driver is uncertain
about taking the offramp. He might suddenly return to the
highway. This car is a hazard. If the driver of the car cuts in
front of you, it is no longer just a hazard; it is an emergency.
Seeing Hazards Lets You Be Prepared. You will have
more time to act if you see hazards before they become
emergencies. In the example above, you might make a lane
change or slow down to prevent a crash if the car suddenly
cuts in front of you. Seeing this hazard gives you time to
check your mirrors and signal a lane change. Being prepared
reduces the danger. A driver who did not see the hazard
until the slow car pulled back on the highway in front of him
would have to do something very suddenly. Sudden braking
or a quick lane change is much more likely to lead to a crash.
Learning to See Hazards. There are often clues that will
help you see hazards. The more you drive, the better you can
get at seeing hazards. This section will talk about hazards of
which you should be aware.
Figure 2.11f: Lane separations,
wide gore, through movement
HAZARDOUS ROADS
Legend
front tractor tires
rear trailer tires
Slow down and be very careful if you see any of the following
road hazards:
●● Work zones. When people are working on the
road, it is a hazard. There may be narrower lanes,
sharp turns or uneven surfaces. Other drivers are
often distracted and drive unsafely. Workers and
construction vehicles may get in the way. Drive slowly
and carefully near work zones. Use your four-way
flashers or brake lights to warn drivers behind you.
●● Drop off. Sometimes the pavement drops off sharply
near the edge of the road. Driving too near the edge
can tilt your vehicle toward the side of the road. This
can cause the top of your vehicle to hit roadside objects
(signs, tree limbs). Also, it can be hard to steer as you
cross the drop off, going off the road or coming back on.
●● Foreign objects. Things that have fallen on the road
can be hazards. They can be a danger to your tires
and wheel rims. They can damage electrical and
brake lines. They can be caught between dual tires
and cause severe damage. Some obstacles which
appear to be harmless can be very dangerous. For
page 2:16
example, cardboard boxes may be empty, but they
may also contain some solid or heavy material capable
of causing damage. The same is true of paper and
cloth sacks. It is important to remain alert for objects
of all sorts, so you can see them early enough to
avoid them without making sudden, unsafe moves.
●● Off-ramps/on-ramps. Freeway and turnpike exits can
be particularly dangerous for commercial vehicles. Offramps and on-ramps often have speed limit signs posted.
Remember, these speeds may be safe for automobiles,
but may not be safe for larger vehicles or heavily
loaded vehicles. Exits which go downhill and turn
at the same time can be especially dangerous. The
downgrade makes it difficult to reduce speed. Braking
and turning at the same time can be a dangerous
practice. Make sure you are going slow enough before
you get on the curved part of an off-ramp or on-ramp.
DRIVERS WHO ARE HAZARDS
In order to protect yourself and others, you must know when
other drivers may do something hazardous. Some clues to
this type of hazard are discussed below:
●● Blocked vision. People who can’t see others are a
very dangerous hazard. Be alert for drivers whose vision
is blocked. Vans, loaded station wagons and cars with
the rear window blocked are examples. Rental trucks
should be watched carefully. Their drivers are often
not used to the limited vision they have to the sides
and rear of the truck. In winter, vehicles with frosted,
ice covered or snow covered windows are hazards.
Vehicles may be partly hidden by blind intersections
or alleys. If you can only see the rear or front end
of a vehicle but not the driver, then he or she can’t
see you. Be alert because he/she may back out or
enter into your lane. Always be prepared to stop.
●● Delivery trucks can present a hazard. The driver’s
vision is often blocked by packages or vehicle doors.
Drivers of step vans, postal vehicles and local delivery
vehicles often are in a hurry and may suddenly step out
of their vehicle or drive their vehicle into the traffic lane.
●● Parked vehicles can be hazards, when the people
start to get out. Or, they may suddenly start up and drive
into your way. Watch for movement inside the vehicle
or movement of the vehicle itself that shows people
are inside. Watch for brake lights or backup lights,
exhaust and other clues that a driver is about to move.
Be careful of a stopped bus. Passengers may cross in
front of or behind the bus and they often can’t see you.
●● Pedestrians and bicyclists can also be hazards.
Walkers, joggers and bicyclists may be on the road
with their back to the traffic, so they can’t see you.
Sometimes, they wear portable stereos with head sets,
so they can’t hear you either. This can be dangerous.
On rainy days, pedestrians may not see you because
of hats or umbrellas. They may be hurrying to get
out of the rain and may not pay attention to traffic.
●● Distractions. People who are distracted are
hazards. Watch for where they are looking. If they
are looking elsewhere, they can’t see you. But
be alert even when they are looking at you. They
may believe that they have the right of way.
●● Children. Children tend to act quickly without
checking traffic. Children playing with one another
may not look for traffic and are a serious hazard.
●● Talkers. Drivers or pedestrians talking to one another
may not be paying close attention to the traffic.
●● Workers. People working on or near the roadway are
a hazard clue. The work creates a distraction for other
drivers and the workers themselves may not see you.
●● Ice cream truck. Someone selling ice
cream is a hazard clue. Children may
be nearby and may not see you.
●● Disabled vehicle. Drivers changing a tire or fixing an
engine often do not pay attention to the danger that
roadway traffic is to them. They are often careless.
Jacked up wheels or raised hoods are hazard clues.
●● Accidents. Accidents are particularly hazardous.
People involved in the accident may not look
for traffic. Passing drivers tend to look at the
accident. People often run across the road without
looking. Vehicles may slow or stop suddenly.
●● Shoppers. People in and around shopping areas
are often not watching traffic because they are
looking for stores or looking into store windows.
●● Shoppers. People in and around shopping areas
are often not watching traffic because they are
looking for stores or looking into store windows.
●● Confused drivers. Confused drivers often change
direction suddenly or stop without warning. Confusion
is common near freeway or turnpike interchanges
and major intersections. Tourists unfamiliar with
the area can be very hazardous. Clues to tourists
include car-top luggage and out-of-state license
plates. Unexpected actions (stopping in the middle
of a block, changing lanes for no apparent reason,
backup lights suddenly going on) are clues to confusion.
Hesitation is another clue, including driving very
slowly, using brakes often or stopping in the middle
of an intersection. You may also see drivers who are
looking at street signs, maps and house numbers.
These drivers may not be paying attention to you.
●● Slow drivers. Motorists who fail to maintain normal
speed are hazards. Seeing slow moving vehicles
early can prevent a crash. Some vehicles, by their
nature, are slow and seeing them is a hazard clue
(mopeds, farm machinery, construction machinery,
tractors, etc.) Some of these will have the “slow
moving vehicle” symbol to warn you. This is a red
triangle with an orange center. Watch for it.
●● Drivers signaling a turn may be a hazard. They
may slow more than expected or stop. If they
are making a tight turn into an alley or driveway,
they may go very slowly. If they are blocked by
pedestrians or other vehicles, they may need
to stop on the roadway. Vehicles turning left
may need to stop for oncoming vehicles.
●● Drivers in a hurry. Drivers may feel your commercial
vehicle is preventing them from getting where they
want to go on time. Such drivers may pass you
without a safe gap in the oncoming traffic, cutting
too close in front of you. Drivers entering the road
may pull in front of you in order to avoid being
stuck behind you, causing you to brake. Be aware
of this and watch for drivers who are in a hurry.
page 2:17
●● Impaired drivers. Drivers who are sleepy, have
had too much to drink, are on drugs or who are ill
are hazards. Some clues to these drivers are:
Test Your Knowledge
»» Weaving across the road or drifting
from one side to another.
1. How do you find out how many seconds
of following distance space you have?
»» Leaving the road (dropping the
right wheels onto the shoulder or
bumping across a curb in a turn).
2. If you are driving a 30 foot vehicle at 55 m.p.h., how
many seconds of following distance should you allow?
»» Stopping at the wrong time (stopping at a
green light or waiting too long at a stop sign).
»» An open window in cold weather.
»» Speeds up or slows down suddenly,
driving too fast or too slow.
Be especially alert for drunk drivers and sleepy drivers late
at night.
Driver Body Movement As A Clue. Drivers look in the
direction they are going to turn. You may sometimes get a
clue from a driver’s head and body movements that the driver
may be going to make a turn even though the turn signals
aren’t on. Drivers making over-the-shoulder checks may be
going to change lanes. These clues are most easily seen in
motorcyclists and bicyclists. Watch other road users and try
to tell whether they might do something hazardous.
Conflicts. You are in conflict when you need to change speed
and/or direction to avoid hitting someone. Conflicts occur
at intersections where vehicles meet, at merges (such as
turnpike on-ramps) and where there are needed lane changes
(such as the end of a lane, forcing a move to another lane
of traffic). Other situations include slow moving or a stalled
vehicle in a traffic lane and accident scenes. Watch for other
drivers who are in conflict because they are a hazard to you.
When they react to this conflict, they may do something that
will put them in conflict with you.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN
You should always be looking for hazards. Continue to learn
to see hazards on the road. However, don’t forget why you
are looking for the hazards—they may turn into emergencies.
You look for the hazards in order to have time to plan a way
out of any emergency. When you see a hazard, think about
the emergencies that could develop and figure out what you
would do. Always be prepared to take action based on your
plans. In this way, you will be a prepared, defensive driver
who will improve not only your own safety but the safety of
all road users.
3. True or False? You should decrease your following
distance if somebody is following you too closely.
4. True or False? If you swing wide to the left before turning
right, another driver may try to pass you on the right.
5. What is a hazard?
6. Why make emergency plans when you see a hazard?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable to
answer them all, re-read Sections 2.7 and 2.8.
2.9 – Distracted Driving
Whenever you are driving a vehicle and your attention is not
on the road, you’re putting yourself, your passengers, other
vehicles, and pedestrians in danger. Distracted driving can
result when you perform any activity that may shift your full
attention from the driving task. Taking your eyes off the road
or hands off the steering wheel presents obvious driving
risks. Mental activities that take your mind away from driving
are just as dangerous. Your eyes can gaze at objects in the
driving scene but fail to see them because your attention is
distracted elsewhere.
Activities that can distract your attention include: talking to
passengers; adjusting the radio, CD player or climate controls;
eating, drinking or smoking; reading maps or other literature;
picking up something that fell; reading billboards and other
road advertisements; watching other people and vehicles
including aggressive drivers; talking on a cell phone or CB
radio; using telematic devices (such as navigation systems,
pagers, etc.); daydreaming or being occupied with other
mental distractions.
DON’T DRIVE DISTRACTED
●● If drivers react a half-second slower because
of distractions, crashes double. Some tips to
follow so you won’t become distracted:
●● Review and be totally familiar with all safety and
usage features on any in-vehicle electronics, including
your wireless or cell phone, before you drive.
●● Pre-program radio stations.
●● Pre-load you favorite CDs or cassette tapes.
●● Clear the vehicle of any unnecessary objects.
●● Review maps and plan your route
before you begin driving.
●● Adjust all mirrors for best all-round
visibility before you start your trip.
●● Don’t attempt to read or write while you drive.
●● Avoid smoking, eating and drinking while you drive.
●● Don’t engage in complex or emotionally intense
conversations with other occupants.
page 2:18
USE IN-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION
EQUIPMENT CAUTIOUSLY
2.10 – Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage
When possible, pull off the road in a safe, legal place when
making/receiving a call on communication equipment.
WHAT IS IT?
If possible, turn the cell phone off until your destination is
reached.
Aggressive driving and road rage is not a new problem.
However, in today’s world, where heavy and slow-moving traffic
and tight schedules are the norm, more and more drivers are
taking out their anger and frustration in their vehicles.
Position the cell phone within easy reach.
Pre-program cell phones with commonly called numbers.
If you have to place a call, find a safe place to pull off the road.
Do not place a call while driving.
Some jurisdictions require that only hands-free devices can
be used while driving. Even these devices are unsafe to use
when you are moving down the road.
If you must use your cell phone, keep conversations short.
Develop ways to get free of long-winded friends and
associates while on the road. Never use the cell phone for
social visiting.
Hang up in tricky traffic situations.
Do not use the equipment when approaching locations with
heavy traffic, road construction, heavy pedestrian traffic, or
severe weather conditions.
Do not attempt to type or read messages on your satellite
system while driving.
WATCH OUT FOR OTHER DISTRACTED DRIVERS
You need to be able to recognize other drivers who are
engaged in any form of driving distraction. Not recognizing
other distracted drivers can prevent you from perceiving or
reacting correctly in time to prevent a crash. Watch for:
●● Vehicles that may drift over the lane
divider lines or within their own lane.
Crowded roads leave little room for error, leading to suspicion
and hostility among drivers and encouraging them to take
personally the mistakes of other drivers.
Aggressive driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle in
a selfish, bold, or pushy manner, without regard for the rights
or safety of others.
Road rage is operating a motor vehicle with the intent of doing
harm to others or physically assaulting a driver or their vehicle.
DON’T BE AN AGGRESSIVE DRIVER
How you feel before you even start your vehicle has a lot to
do with how stress will affect you while driving.
●● Reduce your stress before and while you
drive. Listen to “easy listening” music.
●● Give the drive your full attention. Don’t
allow yourself to become distracted by
talking on your cell phone, eating, etc.
●● Be realistic about your travel time. Expect
delays because of traffic, construction, or
bad weather and make allowances.
●● If you’re going to be later than you expected – deal
with it. Take a deep breath and accept the delay.
●● Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. Try to
imagine why he or she is driving that way. Whatever
their reason, it has nothing to do with you.
●● Vehicles traveling at inconsistent speeds.
●● Slow down and keep your following distance reasonable.
●● Drivers who are preoccupied with maps, food,
cigarettes, cell phones, or other objects.
●● Don’t drive slowly in the left lane of traffic.
●● Drivers who appear to be involved in
conversations with their passengers.
Give a distracted driver plenty of room and maintain your safe
following distance.
Be very careful when passing a driver who seems to be
distracted. The other driver may not be aware of your presence,
and they may drift in front of you.
●● Avoid gestures. Keep you hands on the
wheel. Avoid making any gestures that might
anger another driver, even seemingly harmless
expressions of irritation like shaking your head.
●● Be a cautious and courteous driver. If another driver
seems eager to get in front of you, say, “Be my
guest.” This response will soon become a habit and
you won’t be as offended by other drivers’ actions.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN CONFRONTED
BY AN AGGRESSIVE DRIVER
●● First and foremost, make every
attempt to get out of their way.
●● Put your pride in the back seat. Do not
challenge them by speeding up or attempting
to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
●● Avoid eye contact.
●● Ignore gestures and refuse to react to them.
●● Report aggressive drivers to the appropriate
authorities by providing a vehicle description, license
number, location and, if possible, direction of travel.
●● If you have a cell phone, and can
do it safely, call the police.
page 2:19
●● If an aggressive driver is involved in a crash
farther down the road, stop a safe distance from
the crash scene, wait for the police to arrive, and
report the driving behavior that you witnessed.
Test Your Knowledge
1.
What are some tips to follow so you
won’t become a distracted driver?
2. How do you use in-vehicle communications
equipment cautiously?
3. How do you recognize a distracted driver?
4. What is the difference between
aggressive driving and road rage?
5. What should you do when confronted
with an aggressive driver?
6. What are some things you can do to reduce
your stress before and while you drive?
These questions may be on the test. If you can’t answer
them all, re-read sections 2.9 and 2.10. ROADWAY FACTORS
Poor Lighting. In the daytime there is usually enough light
to see well. This is not true at night. Some areas may have
bright street lights, but many areas will have poor lighting.
On most roads you will probably need to depend entirely on
your headlights.
Less light means you will not be able to see hazards as well
as in daytime. Road users who do not have lights are hard to
see. There are many accidents at night involving pedestrians,
joggers, bicyclists and animals.
Even when there are lights, the road scene can be confusing.
Traffic signals and hazards can be hard to see against
a background of signs, shop windows and other lights.
Drive slower when lighting is poor or confusing. Drive slowly
enough to be sure you can stop in the distance you can see ahead.
Drunk Drivers. Drunk drivers and drivers under the influence
of drugs are a hazard to themselves and to you. Be especially
alert around the closing times for bars and taverns. Watch for
drivers who have trouble staying in their lane or maintaining
speed, stop without reason or show other signs of being under
the influence of alcohol or drugs.
VEHICLE FACTORS
2.11 Driving at Night
IT’S MORE DANGEROUS
You are at greater risk when you drive at night. Drivers can’t
see hazards as soon as in daylight, so they have less time
to respond. Drivers caught by surprise are less able to avoid
a crash.
The problems of night driving involve the driver, the roadway
and the vehicle. We will discuss each of these factors.
DRIVER FACTORS
Vision. People can’t see as sharply at night or in dim light.
Also, their eyes need time to adjust to seeing in dim light.
Most people have noticed this when walking into a dark
movie theater.
Glare. Drivers can be blinded for a short time by bright light.
It takes time to recover from this blindness. Older drivers
are especially bothered by glare. Most people have been
temporarily blinded by camera flash units or by the high
beams of an oncoming vehicle. It can take several seconds
to recover from glare. Even two seconds of glare blindness
can be dangerous. A vehicle going 55 mph will travel more
than half the distance of a football field during that time. Don’t
look directly at bright lights when driving. Look at the right
side of the road. Watch the right lane or edge marking when
someone coming toward you has very bright lights.
Fatigue and Lack of Alertness. Fatigue (being tired) and
lack of alertness are bigger problems at night. The body’s
need for sleep is beyond a person’s control. Most people are
less alert at night, especially after midnight. This is particularly
true if you have been driving for a long time. Drivers may not
see hazards as soon or react as quickly, so the chance of a
crash is greater. If you are sleepy, the only safe cure is to get
off the road and get some sleep. If you don’t, you risk your
life and the lives of others.
page 2:20
Headlights. At night your headlights will usually be the main
source of light for you to see and for others to see you. You
can’t see nearly as much with your headlights as you can see
in the daytime. With low beams you can see ahead about
250 feet and with high beams about 350–500 feet. You must
adjust your speed to keep your stopping distance within your
sight distance. This means going slow enough to be able to
stop within the range of your headlights. Otherwise, by the
time you see a hazard, you will not have time to stop.
Night driving can be more dangerous if you have problems
with your headlights. Dirty headlights may give only half
the light they should. This cuts down your ability to see and
makes it harder for others to see you. Make sure your lights
are clean and working. Headlights can be out of adjustment.
If they don’t point in the right direction, they won’t give you a
good view and they can blind other drivers. Have a qualified
person make sure they are adjusted properly.
Other Lights. In order for you to be seen easily, the following
must be clean and working properly:
●● Reflectors.
●● Marker lights.
●● Clearance lights.
●● Taillights.
●● Identification lights.
Turn Signals and Brake Lights. At night your turn signals
and brake lights are even more important for telling other
drivers what you intend to do. Make sure you have clean,
working turn signals and stop lights.
Windshield and Mirrors. It is more important at night than
in the daytime to have a clean windshield and clean mirrors.
Bright lights at night can cause dirt on your windshield or
mirrors to create a glare of its own, blocking your view. Most
people have experienced driving toward the sun just as it has
risen or is about to set and found that they can barely see
through a windshield that seemed to look okay in the middle
of the day. Clean your windshield on the inside and outside
for safe driving at night.
NIGHT DRIVING PROCEDURES
Pre-Trip Procedures. Make sure you are rested and alert.
If you are drowsy, sleep before you drive! Even a nap can
save your life or the lives of others. If you wear eye glasses,
make sure they are clean and unscratched. Don’t wear sun
glasses at night. Do a complete pre-trip inspection of your
vehicle. Pay attention to checking all lights and reflectors and
cleaning those you can reach.
Avoid Blinding Others. Glare from your headlights can
cause problems for drivers coming towards you. They can also
bother drivers going in the same direction you are, when your
lights shine in their rearview mirror. Dim your lights before they
cause glare for other drivers. Dim your lights within 500 feet
of an oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle
within 500 feet.
Avoid Glare from Oncoming Vehicles. Do not look directly
at lights of oncoming vehicles. Look slightly to the right at a
right lane or edge marking, if available. If other drivers don’t put
their low beams on, don’t try to “get back at them” by putting
your own high beams on. This increases glare for oncoming
drivers and increases the chance of a crash.
Use High Beams When You Can. Some drivers make the
mistake of always using low beams. This seriously cuts down
on their ability to see ahead. Use high beams when it is safe
and legal to do so. Use them when you are not within 500 feet
of an approaching vehicle. Also, don’t let the inside of your
cab get too bright. This makes it harder to see outside. Keep
the interior light off and adjust your instrument lights as low
as you can and still be able to read the gauges.
If You Get Sleepy, Stop Driving at the Nearest Safe
Place. People often don’t realize how close they are to falling
asleep even when their eyelids are falling shut. If you can
safely do so, look at yourself in a mirror. If you look sleepy or
you just feel sleepy, stop driving! You are in a very dangerous
condition. The only safe cure is to sleep.
2.12 Driving in Fog
Fog can occur at any time. Fog on highways can be extremely
dangerous. Fog is often unexpected, and visibility can
deteriorate rapidly. You should watch for foggy conditions
and be ready to reduce your speed. Do not assume that the
fog will thin out after you enter it.
The best advice for driving in fog is don’t. It is preferrable that
you pull off the road into a rest area or truck stop until visibility
is better. If you must drive, be sure to consider the following:
●● Obey all fog-related warning signs.
●● Slow before you enter fog.
●● Use low-beam headlights and fog lights for best
visibility even in daytime, and be alert for other drivers
who may have forgotten to turn on their lights.
●● Avoid passing other vehicles.
●● Don’t stop along the side of the road,
unless absolutely necessary.
●● Be prepared for emergency stops.
2.13 Driving in Winter
VEHICLE CHECKS
Make sure your vehicle is ready before driving in winter
weather. You should make a regular pre-trip inspection, paying
extra attention to the following items:
●● Coolant level and antifreeze amount. Make sure
the cooling system is full and there is enough antifreeze in the system to protect against freezing. This
can be checked with a special coolant tester.
●● Defrosting and heating equipment. Make sure
the defrosters work. They are needed for safe
driving. Make sure the heater is working and that you
know how to operate it. If you use other heaters and
expect to need them (e.g., mirror heaters, battery box
heaters, fuel tank heaters), check their operation.
●● Wipers and washers. Make sure the windshield wiper
blades are in good condition. Make sure the wiper
blades press against the window hard enough to wipe
the windshield clean. Otherwise they may not sweep
off snow properly. Make sure the windshield washer
works and there is washing fluid in the washer reservoir.
Use windshield washer antifreeze to prevent
freezing of the washer fluid. If you can’t see
well enough while driving (for example, if your
wipers fail), stop safely and fix the problem.
●● Tires. Make sure you have enough tread on your tires.
The drive tires must provide traction to push the rig
over wet pavement and through snow. The steering
tires must have traction to steer the vehicle. Enough
tread is especially important in winter conditions. You
must have at least 4/32 inch tread depth in every
major groove on front tires and at least 2/32 inch on
other tires. More would be better. Use a gauge to
determine if you have enough tread for safe driving.
●● Tire chains. You may find yourself in conditions where
you can’t drive without chains, even to get to a place of
safety. Carry the right number of chains and extra cross
links. Make sure they will fit your drive tires. Check the
chains for broken hooks, worn or broken cross links
and bent or broken side chains. Learn how to put the
chains on before you need to do it in snow and ice.
●● Lights and reflectors. Make sure the lights and
reflectors are clean. Lights and reflectors are
especially important during bad weather. Check
from time to time during bad weather to make
sure they are clean and working properly.
●● Windows and mirrors. Remove any ice, snow,
etc., from the windshield, windows and mirrors
before starting. Use a windshield scraper, snow
brush and windshield defroster as necessary.
●● Hand holds, steps and deck plates. Remove all ice
and snow from hand holds, steps and deck plates (cat
walk) which you must use to enter the cab or to move
about the vehicle. This will reduce the danger of slipping.
●● Radiator shutters and winterfront. Remove
ice from the radiator shutters. Make sure the
winterfront is not closed too tightly. If the shutters
freeze shut or the winterfront is closed too
much, the engine may overheat and stop.
page 2:21
●● Exhaust system. Exhaust system leaks are especially
dangerous when cab ventilation may be poor (windows
rolled up, etc.) Loose connections could permit
poisonous carbon monoxide to leak into your vehicle.
Carbon monoxide gas will cause you to be sleepy. In
large enough amounts it can kill you. Check the exhaust
system for loose parts and for sounds and signs of leaks.
DRIVING
Slippery Surfaces. Drive slowly and smoothly on slippery
roads. If it is very slippery, you shouldn’t drive at all. Stop at
the first safe place.
The following are some safety guidelines:
●● Start gently and slowly. When first starting,
get the feel of the road. Don’t hurry.
●● Check for Ice. Check for ice on the road, especially
bridges and overpasses. A lack of spray from other
vehicles indicates ice has formed on the road. Also,
check your mirrors and wiper blades for ice. If they
have ice, the road most likely will be icy as well.
●● Adjust turning and braking to conditions. Make turns as gentle as possible. Don’t brake any
harder than necessary and don’t use the engine
brake or speed retarder. (They can cause the
driving wheels to skid on slippery surfaces.).
●● Adjust speed to conditions. Don’t pass slower
vehicles unless necessary. Go slowly and watch far
enough ahead to keep a steady speed. Avoid having to
slow down and speed up. Take curves at slower speeds
and don’t brake while in curves. Be aware that as the
temperature rises to the point where ice begins to melt,
the road becomes even more slippery. Slow down more.
●● Adjust space to conditions. Don’t drive alongside
other vehicles. Keep a longer following distance. When
you see a traffic jam ahead, slow down or stop to wait
for it to clear. Try hard to anticipate stops early and
slow down gradually. Watch for snowplows, as well as
salt and sand trucks, and give them plenty of room.
●● Wet brakes. When driving in heavy rain or deep
standing water, your brakes will get wet. Water
in the brakes can cause them to be weak, to
apply unevenly or to grab. This can cause lack of
braking power, wheel lockups, pulling to one side
or the other and jackknife if you pull a trailer.
further as described above. (CAUTION: Do not apply
too much brake pressure and accelerator at the same
time or you can overheat brake drums and linings.)
2.14 Driving in Very Hot Weather
VEHICLE CHECKS
Do a normal pre-trip inspection, but pay special attention to
the following items.
Tires. Check the tire mounting and air pressure. Inspect the
tires every two hours or every 100 miles when driving in very
hot weather. Air pressure increases with temperature. Do not
let air out or the pressure will be too low when the tires cool
off. If a tire is too hot to touch, remain stopped until it cools
off. Otherwise the tire may blow out or catch fire.
Engine Oil. The engine oil helps keep the engine cool, as well
as lubricating it. Make sure there is enough engine oil. If you
have an oil temperature gauge, make sure the temperature
is within the proper range while you are driving.
Engine Coolant. Before starting out, make sure the engine
cooling system has enough water and antifreeze according
to the engine manufacturer’s directions. (Antifreeze helps the
engine under hot conditions as well as cold conditions.). When
driving, check the water temperature or coolant temperature
gauge from time to time. Make sure that it remains in the
normal range. If the gauge goes above the highest safe
temperature, there may be something wrong that could lead
to engine failure and possibly fire. Stop driving as soon as
safely possible and try to find out what is wrong.
Some vehicles have sight glasses, see-through coolant
overflow containers or coolant recovery containers. These
permit you to check the coolant level while the engine is hot.
If the container is not part of the pressurized system, the cap
can be safely removed and coolant added even when the
engine is at operating temperature.
Never remove the radiator cap or any part of the
pressurized system until the system has cooled. Steam
and boiling water can spray under pressure and cause severe
burns. If you can touch the radiator cap with your bare hand,
it is probably cool enough to open.
Avoid driving through deep puddles or flowing water if possible.
If not, you should:
If coolant has to be added to a system without a recovery tank
or overflow tank, follow these steps:
●● Shut the engine off.
●● Slow down.
●● Wait until the engine has cooled.
●● Place transmission in a low gear.
●● Gently put on the brakes. This presses linings
against brake drums or discs and keeps
mud, silt, sand and water from getting in.
●● Increase engine RPM and cross the water
while keeping light pressure on the brakes.
●● When out of the water, maintain light
pressure on the brakes for a short distance
to heat them up and dry them out.
●● Make a test stop when safe to do so. Check behind to
make sure no one is following, then apply the brakes
to be sure they work properly. If not, dry them out
page 2:22
●● Protect your hands (use gloves or a thick cloth).
●● Turn the radiator cap slowly to the first
stop, which releases the pressure seal.
●● Step back while the pressure is released
from the cooling system.
●● When all the pressure has been released, press
down on the cap and turn it further to remove it.
●● Visually check the level of coolant and
add more coolant if necessary.
●● Replace the cap and turn it all the
way to the closed position.
Engine Belts. Learn how to check V-belt tightness on your
vehicle by pressing on the belts. Loose belts will not turn the
water pump and/or fan properly. This will result in overheating
Also, check belts for cracking or other signs of wear.
Hoses. Make sure coolant hoses are in good condition.
A broken hose while driving can lead to engine failure and
even fire.
DRIVING
Watch for Bleeding Tar. Tar in the road pavement frequently
rises to the surface in very hot weather. Spots where tar
“bleeds” to the surface are very slippery.
Go Slowly Enough to Prevent Overheating. High speeds
create more heat for tires and the engine. In desert conditions
the heat may build up to the point where it is dangerous. The
heat will increase chances of tire failure or even fire and
engine failure.
look and listen for the train, and be prepared to stop at the
tracks if a train is coming. See Figure 2.12.
Figure 2.12 Round Yellow Warning Sign
R
R
Pavement Markings. Pavement markings mean the same
as the advance warning sign. They consist of an “X” with the
letters “RR” and a no-passing marking on two-lane roads.
See Figure 2.13.
Figure 2.13 Pavement Markings
Test Your Knowledge
1. True or False? You should use low
beams whenever you can.
2. What should you do before you drive if you are drowsy?
3. What effects can wet brakes cause? How
can you avoid these problems?
R
R
4. True or False? You should let air out of hot
tires so the pressure goes back to normal.
G
AD
RO
Active Crossings. This type of crossing has a traffic control
device installed at the crossing to regulate traffic at the
crossing. These active devices include flashing red lights, with
or without bells and flashing red lights with bells and gates.
IL
Passive Crossings. This type of crossing does not have any
type of traffic control device. The decision to stop or proceed
rests entirely in your hands. Passive crossings require you to
recognize the crossing, search for any train using the tracks
and decide if there is sufficient clear space to cross safely.
Passive crossings have yellow circular advance warning
signs, pavement markings and crossbucks to assist you in
recognizing a crossing.
RA
TYPES OF CROSSINGS
Figure 2.14 Multiple Tracks
IN
Railroad-highway crossings are always dangerous. Every
such crossing must be approached with the expectation that
a train is coming.
SS
2.15 Railroad-Highway Crossings
Crossbuck Signs. This sign marks the grade crossing. It
requires you to yield the right-of-way to the train. If there is
no white line painted on the pavement, you must stop the bus
before the crossbuck sign. When the road crosses over more
than one set of tracks, a sign below the crossbuck indicates
the number of tracks. See Figure 2.14.
O
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable to
answer them all, re-read Sections 2.11, 2.12, 2.13 and 2.14.
There is also a no passing zone sign on two-lane roads. There
may be a white stop line painted on the pavement before the
railroad tracks. The front of the bus must remain behind this
line while stopped at the crossing.
CR
5. True or False? You can safely remove the radiator
cap as long as the engine isn’t overheated.
3
TRACKS
YIELD
WARNING SIGNS AND DEVICES
Advance Warning Signs. The round, black-on-yellow
warning sign is placed ahead of a public railroad-highway
crossing. The advance warning sign tells you to slow down,
page 2:23
Flashing Red Light Signals. At many highway-rail grade
crossings, the crossbuck sign has flashing red lights and bells.
When the lights begin to flash, stop! A train is approaching.
You are required to yield the right-of-way to the train. If there
is more than one track, make sure all tracks are clear before
crossing. See Figure 2.15.
Gates. Many railroad-highway crossings have gates with
flashing red lights and bells. Stop when the lights begin to
flash and before the gate lowers across the road lane. Remain
stopped until the gates go up and the lights have stopped
flashing. Proceed when it is safe. See Figure 2.15.
STOPPING SAFELY AT RAILROADHIGHWAY CROSSINGS
A full-stop is required at grade crossings whenever:
●● The nature of the cargo makes a stop mandatory
under state or federal regulations.
●● Such a stop is otherwise required by law.
When stopping be sure to:
●● Check for traffic behind you while stopping
gradually. Use a pullout lane, if available.
●● Turn on your four-way emergency flashers.
Figure 2.15 Gates/Lights
CROSSING THE TRACKS
CR
AD
RO
O
SS
IL
IN
RA
G
Railroad crossings with steep approaches can cause your
unit to hang up on the tracks.
3
TRACKS
Never permit traffic conditions to trap you in a position where
you have to stop on the tracks. Be sure you can get all the way
across the tracks before you start across. It takes a typical
tractor-trailer unit at least 14 seconds to clear a single track
and more than 15 seconds to clear a double track.
Do not shift gears while crossing railroad tracks.
SPECIAL SITUATIONS
Be aware! These trailers can get stuck on raised crossings:
●● Low slung units (lowboy, car carrier,
moving van, possum-belly livestock trailer).
●● Single-axle tractor pulling a long trailer with its landing
gear set to accommodate a tandem-axle tractor.
DRIVING PROCEDURES
Never Race a Train to a Crossing
Never attempt to race a train to a crossing. It is extremely
difficult to judge the speed of an approaching train.
Reduce Speed
Speed must be reduced in accordance with your ability to see
approaching trains in any direction and speed must be held
to a point which will permit you to stop short of the tracks in
case a stop is necessary.
Don’t Expect to Hear a Train
Because of noise in the cab, you cannot expect to hear the
train horn until the train is dangerously close to the crossing.
Don’t Rely on Signals
You should not rely solely upon the presence of warning
signals, gates or flagmen to warn of the approach of trains.
Be especially alert at crossings that do not have gates or
flashing red light signals.
Double tracks require a double check. Remember that a
train on one track may hide a train on the other track. Look both
ways before crossing. After one train has cleared a crossing,
be sure no other trains are near before starting across
the tracks.
Yard areas and grade crossings in cities and towns are
just as dangerous as rural grade crossings. Approach them
with as much caution.
page 2:24
If for any reason you get stuck on the tracks, get out of the
vehicle and away from the tracks. Check signposts or signal
housing at the crossing for emergency notification information.
Call 911 or other emergency number. Give the location of the
crossing using all identifiable landmarks, especially the DOT
number, if posted.
2.16 Mountain Driving
In mountain driving, gravity plays a major role. On any upgrade,
gravity slows you down. The steeper the grade, the longer the
grade, and/or the heavier the load — the more you will need
to use lower gears to climb hills or mountains. In coming
down long, steep downgrades, gravity causes the speed of
your vehicle to increase. You must select an appropriate safe
speed, then use a low gear and use proper braking techniques.
You should plan ahead and obtain information about any long
steep grades along your planned route of travel. If possible,
talk to other drivers who are familiar with the grades to find
out what speeds are safe.
You must go slowly enough so your brakes can hold you back
without getting too hot. If the brakes become too hot, they may
start to “fade.” This means you have to apply them harder and
harder to get the same stopping power. If you continue to use
the brakes hard, they can keep fading until you cannot slow
down or stop at all.
SELECT A “SAFE” SPEED
PROPER BRAKING TECHNIQUE
Your most important consideration is to select a speed that
is not too fast for the:
●● Total weight of the vehicle and cargo.
Remember: The use of brakes on a long and/or steep
downgrade is only a supplement to the braking effect of
the engine. Once the vehicle is in the proper low gear, the
following is a proper braking technique:
●● Length of the grade.
●● Steepness of the grade.
●● Road conditions.
●● Weather.
If a speed limit is posted or there is a sign indicating “Maximum
Safe Speed,” never exceed the speed shown. Also, look for
and heed warning signs indicating the length and steepness
of the grade.
You must use the braking effect of the engine as the principal
way of controlling your speed. The braking effect of the
engine is greatest when it is near the governed RPMs and
the transmission is in the lower gears. Save your brakes so
you will be able to slow or stop as required by road and traffic
conditions.
1. Apply the brakes just hard enough
to feel a definite slowdown.
2. When your speed has been reduced to approximately
5 mph below your “safe” speed, release
the brakes. (This brake application should
last for about three seconds.)
3. When your speed has increased to your
“safe” speed, repeat steps 1 and 2.
For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not
apply the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now
apply the brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed
to 35 mph and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as
necessary until you have reached the end of the downgrade.
ESCAPE RAMPS
BE IN THE RIGHT GEAR BEFORE
STARTING DOWN THE GRADE
Shift the transmission to a low gear based on the steepness
of the grade, weather, road conditions and your load before
starting down the grade. Do not try to downshift after your
speed has already built up. You will not be able to shift into
a lower gear. You may not even be able to get back into any
gear and all engine braking effect will be lost. Forcing an
automatic transmission into a lower gear at high speed could
damage the transmission and also lead to loss of all engine
braking effect.
With older trucks, a rule for choosing gears is to use the same
gear going down a hill that you would need to climb the hill.
However, new trucks have low friction parts and streamlined
shapes for fuel economy. They may also have more powerful
engines. This means they can go up hills in higher gears and
have less friction and air drag to hold them back going down
hills. For that reason, drivers of modern trucks may have to
use lower gears going down a hill than would be required to
go up the hill. You should know what is right for your vehicle.
BRAKE FADING OR FAILURE
Brakes are designed so brake shoes or pads rub against
the brake drum or disks to slow the vehicle. Braking creates
heat, but brakes are designed to take a lot of heat. However,
brakes can fade or fail from excessive heat caused by using
them too much and not relying on the engine braking effect.
Escape ramps have been built on many steep mountain
downgrades. They are made to stop runaway vehicles safely
without injuring drivers and passengers. Escape ramps use
a long bed of loose soft material to slow a runaway vehicle,
sometimes in combination with an upgrade.
Know escape ramp locations on your route. Signs show
drivers where ramps are located. Escape ramps save lives,
equipment and cargo. Use them if you lose your brakes.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What factors determine your selection of a “safe”
speed when going down a long, steep downgrade?
2. Why should you be in the proper gear
before starting down a hill?
3. Describe the proper braking technique when
going down a long, steep downgrade.
4. What type of vehicles can get stuck on
a railroad-highway crossing?
5. How long does it take for a typical tractortrailer unit to clear a double track?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 2.15 and 2.16.
Brake fade is also affected by adjustment. To safely control
a vehicle, every brake must do its share of the work. Brakes
out of adjustment will stop doing their share before those
that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat
and fade and there will not be enough braking available to
control the vehicle. Brakes can get out of adjustment quickly,
especially when they are used a lot; also, brake linings wear
faster when they are hot. Therefore, brake adjustment must
be checked frequently.
page 2:25
2.17 Driving Emergencies
Traffic emergencies occur when two vehicles are about to
collide. Vehicle emergencies occur when tires, brakes or other
critical parts fail. Following the safety practices in this manual
can help prevent emergencies. But if an emergency does
happen, your chances of avoiding a crash depend upon how
well you take action. Actions you can take are discussed below.
STEERING TO AVOID A CRASH
Stopping is not always the safest thing to do in an emergency
When you do not have enough room to stop, you may need
to steer away from what’s ahead. Remember, you can almost
always turn to miss an obstacle more quickly than you can
stop. However, top-heavy vehicles and tractors with multiple
trailers can flip over.
Keep Both Hands on the Steering Wheel. In order to turn
quickly, you must have a firm grip on the steering wheel with
both hands. The best way to have both hands on the wheel,
if there is an emergency, is to keep them there all the time.
How to Turn Quickly and Safely. A quick turn can be made
safely, if it’s done the right way. Here are some points that
safe drivers use:
●● Do not apply the brakes while you are turning.
It’s very easy to lock your wheels while turning.
If that happens, you can skid out of control.
●● Do not turn any more than needed to clear
whatever is in your way. The more sharply you
turn, the greater the chances of a skid or rollover.
●● Be prepared to “countersteer,” that is, to turn the
wheel back in the other direction, once you’ve passed
whatever was in your path. Unless you are prepared
to countersteer, you won’t be able to do it quickly
enough. You should think of emergency steering and
countersteering as two parts of one driving action.
Where to Steer. If an oncoming driver has drifted into your
lane, a move to your right is best. If that driver realizes what
has happened, the natural response will be to return to his
or her own lane.
If something is blocking your path, the best direction to steer
will depend on the situation.
●● If you have been using your mirrors, you’ll know
which lane is empty and can be safely used.
●● If the shoulder is clear, going right may be best.
No one is likely to be driving on the shoulder but
someone may be passing you on the left. You
will know if you have been using your mirrors.
●● Avoid braking. If possible, avoid using the brakes
until your speed has dropped to about 20 mph. Then
brake very gently to avoid skidding on a loose surface.
●● Keep one set of wheels on the pavement
if possible. This helps to maintain control.
●● Stay on the shoulder. If the shoulder is clear, stay
on it until your vehicle has come to a stop. Signal and
check your mirrors before pulling back onto the road.
Returning to the Road. If you are forced to return to the road
before you can stop, use the following procedure:
●● Hold the wheel tightly. Turn sharply enough to
get right back on the road safely. Don’t try to edge
gradually back on the road. If you do, your tires might
grab unexpectedly and you could lose control.
●● When both front tires are on the paved surface,
countersteer immediately. The two turns should be
made as a single “steer-countersteer” movement.
HOW TO STOP QUICKLY AND SAFELY
If somebody suddenly pulls out in front of you, your natural
response is to hit the brakes. This is a good response if there’s
enough distance to stop and you use the brakes correctly.
You should brake in a way that will keep your vehicle in a
straight line and allow you to turn if it becomes necessary.
You can use the “controlled braking” method or the “stab
braking” method.
Controlled Braking. With this method, you apply the brakes
as hard as you can without locking the wheels. Keep steering
wheel movements very small while doing this. If you need to
make a larger steering adjustment or if the wheels lock, release
the brakes. Re-apply the brakes as soon as you can.
Stab Braking.
●● Apply your brakes all the way.
●● Release the brakes when your wheels lock up.
●● As soon as the wheels start rolling, apply the
brakes fully again. (It can take up to one second
for the wheels to start rolling after you release the
brakes. If you re-apply the brakes before the wheels
start rolling, the vehicle won’t straighten out.).
Don’t Jam on the Brakes. Emergency braking does not
mean pushing down on the brake pedal as hard as you can.
That will only keep the wheels locked up and cause a skid.
If the wheels are skidding, you cannot control the vehicle.
Note: If you drive a vehicle with anti-lock brakes, you
should read and follow the directions found in the
Vehicle Owners Manual for stopping quickly.
●● If you are blocked on both sides, a move
to the right may be best. At least you won’t
force anyone into an opposing traffic lane,
possibly resulting in a head-on collision.
BRAKE FAILURE
Leaving the Road. In some emergencies, you may have to
drive off the road. It may be less risky than facing a collision
with another vehicle.
Brakes kept in good condition rarely fail. Most hydraulic brake
failures occur for one of two reasons:
●● Loss of hydraulic pressure.
Most shoulders are strong enough to support the weight of a
large vehicle and, therefore, offer an available escape route.
Here are some guidelines, if you do leave the road:
page 2:26
●● Brake fade on long downgrades.
(Air brakes are discussed in Section 5.)
●● Loss of hydraulic pressure. When the system won’t
build up pressure, the brake pedal will feel spongy or
go to the floor. Here are some things you can do:
»» Downshift. Putting the vehicle into a
lower gear will help to slow the vehicle.
»» Pump the brakes. Sometimes pumping
the brake pedal will generate enough
hydraulic pressure to stop the vehicle.
»» Use the parking brake. The parking or
emergency brake is separate from the hydraulic
brake system. Therefore, it can be used to
slow the vehicle. However, be sure to press
the release button or pull the release lever
at the same time you use the emergency
brake so you can adjust the brake pressure
and keep the wheels from locking up.
»» Find an escape route. While slowing
the vehicle, look for an escape route—
an open field, side street or escape ramp.
Turning uphill is a good way to slow and
stop the vehicle. Make sure the vehicle
does not start rolling backward after you
stop. Put it in low gear, apply the parking
brake, and, if necessary, roll back into
some obstacle that will stop the vehicle.
●● Brake failure on downgrades. Going slowly enough,
selecting the proper gear and braking properly will
almost always prevent brake failure on long downgrades.
Once the brakes have failed, however, you will need
to look outside your vehicle for something to stop it.
Your best hope is an escape ramp. If there is one,
there’ll be signs telling you about it. Use it. Escape
ramps are usually located a few miles from the top
of the downgrade. Every year, hundreds of drivers
avoid injury to themselves or damage to their vehicles
by using escape ramps. Some escape ramps use
soft gravel that resists the motion of the vehicle and
brings it to a stop. Others turn uphill, using the hill to
stop the vehicle and soft gravel to hold it in place
Any driver who loses brakes going downhill should use
an escape ramp if it’s available. If you don’t use it, your
chances of having a serious crash may be much greater.
If no escape ramp is available, take the least
hazardous escape route you can—such as an open
field or a side road that flattens out or turns uphill.
Make the move as soon as you know your brakes
are not working. The longer you wait, the faster the
vehicle will go and the harder it will be to stop
TIRE FAILURE
Recognize Tire Failure. Quickly knowing you have a tire
failure will let you have more time to react. Having just a few
seconds to remember what it is you’re supposed to do can
help you. The major signs of tire failure are:
●● Sound. The loud “bang” of a blowout is an easily
recognized sign. Because it can take a few seconds
for your vehicle to react, you might think it was
some other vehicle. But any time you hear a tire
blow, you’d be safest to assume it was yours.
●● Vibration. If the vehicle thumps or vibrates heavily,
it may be a sign that one of the tires has gone flat.
With a rear tire, that may be the only sign you get.
●● Feel. If the steering feels “heavy,” it is probably a sign
that one of the front tires has failed. Sometimes, failure
of a rear tire will cause the vehicle to slide back and forth
or “fishtail.” However, dual rear tires usually prevent this.
Respond to Tire Failure. When a tire fails, your vehicle is
in danger. You must immediately:
●● Hold the steering wheel firmly. If a front tire fails,
it can twist the steering wheel out of your hands.
The only way to prevent this is to keep a firm grip
on the steering wheel with both hands at all times.
●● Stay off the brake. It’s natural to want to brake
in an emergency. However, braking when a tire
has failed could cause loss of control. Unless
you’re about to run into something, stay off the
brake until the vehicle has slowed down. Then
brake very gently, pull off the road and stop.
●● Check the tires. After you’ve come to a stop,
get out and check all the tires. Do this even if
the vehicle seems to be handling all right. If one
of your dual tires goes, the only way you may
know it is by getting out and looking at it.
2.18 Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
ABS is a computerized system that keeps your wheels from
locking up during hard brake applications.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease
or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates
when wheels are about to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance
but it does help you keep the vehicle under control during
hard braking.
HOW ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS WORK
Sensors detect potential wheel lock up. An electronic control
unit (ECU) will then decrease brake pressure to avoid wheel
lockup.
Brake pressure is adjusted to provide the maximum braking
without danger of lockup.
ABS works far faster than the driver can respond to potential
wheel lockup. At all other times the brake system will operate
normally.
VEHICLES REQUIRED TO HAVE
ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS
The Department of Transportation requires that ABS be on:
●● Truck tractors with air brakes built
on or after March 1, 1997.
●● Other air brake vehicles, (trucks, buses, trailers, and
converter dollies) built on or after March 1, 1998.
●● Hydraulically braked trucks and buses with
a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs
or more built on or after March 1, 1999.
Many commercial vehicles built before these dates have been
voluntarily equipped with ABS.
page 2:27
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR VEHICLE
IS EQUIPPED WITH ABS
Tractors, trucks and buses will have yellow ABS malfunction
lamps on the instrument panel.
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left
side, either on the front or rear corner.
Dollies manufactured on or after March 1, 1998 are required
to have a lamp on the left side.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp
comes on at start-up for a bulb check and then goes out
quickly. On older systems, the lamp could stay on until you
are driving over five mph.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once you
are under way, you may have lost ABS control.
In the case of towed units manufactured before it was required
by the Department of Transportation, it may be difficult to
tell if the unit is equipped with ABS. Look under the vehicle
for the ECU and wheel speed sensor wires coming from the
back of the brakes.
HOW ABS HELPS YOU
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a vehicle without
ABS, your wheels may lock up. When your steering wheels
lock up, you lose steering control. When your other wheels
lock up, you may skid, jackknife or even spin the vehicle.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up and maintain control. You
may or may not be able to stop faster with ABS but you should
be able to steer around an obstacle while braking and avoid
skids caused by over braking.
BRAKING WITH ABS
When you drive a vehicle with ABS, you should brake as you
always have. In other words:
Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely and stay
in control.
Brake the same way, regardless of whether you have ABS
on the bus, tractor, the trailer, or both.
As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer and back
off the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay in control.
There is only one exception to this procedure. If you drive a
straight truck or combination with working ABS on all axles,
in an emergency stop, you can fully apply the brakes.
BRAKING IF ABS IS NOT WORKING
Without ABS you still have normal brake functions. Drive and
brake as you always have.
Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you
if something isn’t working.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp
comes on at start-up for a bulb check and then goes out
quickly. On older systems, the lamp could stay on until you
are driving over five mph.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once
you are under way, you may have lost ABS control on one
or more wheels.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still have regular
brakes. Drive normally but get the system serviced soon.
SAFETY REMINDERS
ABS ON THE TRACTOR ONLY
OR ONLY ON THE TRAILER
●● ABS won’t allow you to drive faster, follow
more closely or drive lss carefully.
Having ABS on only the tractor, only the trailer or even on only
one axle still gives you more control over the vehicle during
braking. Brake normally.
●● ABS won’t prevent power or turning skids.
ABS should prevent brake-induced skids or
jackknifes but not those caused by spinning
the drive wheels or going too fast in a turn.
When only the tractor has ABS, you should be able to maintain
steering control and there is less chance of jackknifing. But
keep your eye on the trailer and let up on the brakes (if you
can safely do so) if it begins to swing out.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less likely to
swing out. But if you lose steering control or start a tractor
jackknife, let up on the brakes (if you can safely do so) until
you regain control.
●● ABS won’t necessarily shorten stopping
distance. ABS will help maintain vehicle control
but not always shorten stopping distance.
●● ABS won’t increase or decrease ultimate
stopping power. ABS is an “add-on” to your
normal brakes, not a replacement for them.
●● ABS won’t change the way you normally brake. Under
normal brake conditions, your vehicle will stop as it
always stopped. ABS only comes into play when a wheel
would normally have locked up because of over braking.
●● ABS won’t compensate for bad brakes
or poor brake maintenance.
Remember: The best vehicle safety feature is still a safe driver.
Remember: Drive so you never need to use your ABS.
Remember: If you need it, ABS could help to prevent a
serious crash.
page 2:28
2.19 Skid Control and Recovery
Figura 2-16: Tractor Jackknife
A skid happens whenever the tires lose their grip on the road.
This is caused in one of four ways:
Line of Travel
●● Over-braking. Braking too hard and locking up
the wheels. Skids can also occur when using
the speed retarder when the road is slippery.
●● Over-steering. Turning the wheels more
sharply than the vehicle can turn.
●● Over-accelerating. Supplying too much power
to the drive wheels, causing them to spin.
Direction of Slide
●● Driving too fast. Most serious skids result from driving
too fast for road conditions. Drivers who adjust their
driving to conditions don’t over-accelerate and don’t
have to over-brake or over-steer from too much speed.
DRIVE-WHEEL SKIDS
By far the most common skid is one in which the rear wheels
lose traction through excessive braking or acceleration. Skids
caused by acceleration usually happen on ice or snow. They
can be easily stopped by taking your foot off the accelerator.
(If it is very slippery, push the clutch in. Otherwise, the engine
can keep the wheels from rolling freely and regaining traction.).
Rear wheel braking skids occur when the rear drive wheels
lock. Because locked wheels have less traction than rolling
wheels, the rear wheels usually slide sideways in an attempt
to catch up with the front wheels. In a bus or straight truck, the
vehicle will slide sideways in a spin out. With vehicles towing
trailers, a drive-wheel skid can let the trailer push the towing
vehicle sideways, causing a sudden jackknife. (Figure 2-16).
CORRECTING A DRIVE-WHEEL BRAKING SKID
Do the following to correct a drive-wheel braking skid:
Rear Tractor Wheels
locked-up or spinning
Test Your Knowledge
1. True or False? Stopping is not always the
safest thing to do in an emergency.
●● Stop braking. This will let the rear wheels roll again
and keep the rear wheels from sliding any further. If
on ice, push in the clutch to let the wheels turn freely.
2. What are some advantages of going right
instead of left around an obstacle?
●● Steer. When a vehicle begins to slide sideways,
quickly steer in the direction you want the vehicle to
go — down the road. You must turn the wheel quickly.
4. True or False? If a tire blows out, you should put
the brakes on hard to stop quickly.
How do you
know if your vehicle has antilock brakes?
●● Countersteer. As a vehicle turns back on course,
it has a tendency to keep right on turning. Unless you
turn the steering wheel quickly the other way, you
may find yourself sliding in the opposite direction.
5. What is the proper braking technique when
driving a vehicle with antilock brakes?
Learning to stay off the brake, turn the steering wheel quickly,
push in the clutch and counter-steer in a skid takes a lot of
practice. The best place to get this practice is on a large
driving range or “skid pad.”
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 2.17, 2.18 and 2.19.
3. What is an “escape ramp?”
6. How do antilock brakes help you?
FRONT-WHEEL SKIDS
Most front-wheel skids are caused by driving too fast for
conditions. Other causes are lack of tread on the front tires
and cargo loaded so not enough weight is on the front axle.
In a front-wheel skid, the front end tends to go in a straight
line regardless of how much you turn the steering wheel. On
a very slippery surface, you may not be able to steer around
a curve or turn.
When a front-wheel skid occurs, the only way to stop the skid
is to let the vehicle slow down. Stop turning and/or braking
so hard. Slow down as quickly as possible without skidding.
page 2:29
2.20 Accident Procedures
2.21 Fires
When you’re in an accident and not seriously hurt, you need
to act to prevent further damage or injury. The basic steps to
be taken at any accident are to:
Truck fires can cause damage and injury. Learn the causes of
fires and how to prevent them. Know what to do to extinguish
fires.
●● Protect the area.
●● Notify authorities.
●● Care for the injured.
PROTECT THE AREA
The first thing to do at an accident scene is to keep another
accident from happening at the same spot. To protect the
accident area:
●● If your vehicle is involved in the accident, try to
get it to the side of the road. This will help prevent
another accident and allow traffic to move.
●● If you’re stopping to help, park away from the
accident. The area immediately around the
accident will be needed for emergency vehicles.
●● Put on your flashers.
●● Set out reflective triangles to warn other traffic.
Make sure they can be seen by other drivers
in time for them to avoid the accident.
NOTIFY AUTHORITIES — CB OR PHONE (DIAL 911)
If you have a cell phone or CB, call for assistance before you
get out of your vehicle. If not, wait until after the accident scene
has been properly protected, then phone or send someone
to phone the police. Try to determine where you are so you
can give the exact location.
CARE FOR THE INJURED
If a qualified person is at the accident and helping the injured,
stay out of the way unless asked to assist. Otherwise, do the
best you can to help any injured parties. Here are some basic
steps to follow in giving assistance:
●● Don’t move a severely injured person unless the
danger of fire or passing traffic makes it necessary.
●● Stop heavy bleeding by applying
direct pressure to the wound.
●● Keep the injured person warm.
CAUSES OF FIRE
The following are some causes of vehicle fires:
●● After accidents. Spilled fuel, improper use of flares.
●● Tires. Under-inflated tires and duals that touch.
●● Electrical system. Short circuits due to
damaged insulation, loose connections.
●● Fuel. Driver smoking, improper
fueling, loose fuel connections.
●● Cargo. Flammable cargo, improperly
sealed or loaded, poor ventilation.
FIRE PREVENTION
Pay attention to the following:
●● Pre-trip inspection. Make a complete inspection of
the electrical, fuel and exhaust systems, tires and cargo.
Be sure to check that the fire extinguisher is charged.
●● En route inspection. Check the tires, wheels and truck
body for signs of heat whenever you stop during a trip.
●● Follow safe procedures. Follow correct safety
procedures for fueling the vehicle, (stay with
the vehicle and watch the nozzle while fueling
to prevent spills), using brakes, handling flares
and other activities that can cause a fire.
●● Monitoring. Check the instruments and gauges
often for signs of overheating and use the mirrors
to look for signs of smoke from tires on the vehicle.
●● Use caution. Use normal caution in
handling anything flammable.
FIRE FIGHTING
Knowing how to fight fires is important. Fires have been made
worse by drivers who didn’t know what to do. Know how the
fire extinguisher works. Study the instructions printed on the
extinguisher before you need it. Here are some procedures
to follow in case of fire:
●● Pull off the road. The first step is to get the
vehicle off the road and stop. In doing so:
»» Park in an open area, away from
buildings, trees, brush, other vehicles
or anything that might catch fire.
»» Don’t pull into a service station!
»» Notify emergency services of your
problem and your location.
●● Keep the fire from spreading. Before trying to put out
the fire, make sure that it doesn’t spread any further.
»» With an engine fire, turn off the engine as soon
as you can. Don’t open the hood if you can
avoid it. Shoot extinguishers through louvers,
radiator or from the underside of the vehicle.
page 2:30
»» For a cargo fire in a van or box trailer, keep
the doors shut, especially if your cargo
contains hazardous materials. Opening the
van doors will supply the fire with oxygen
and can cause it to burn very fast.
●● Extinguish the fire. Here are some
rules to follow in putting out a fire:
»» Only try to extinguish a fire if you know
what you are doing and it is safe to do so.
»» When using the extinguisher, stay as
far away from the fire as possible.
»» Aim at the source or base
of the fire, not up in the flames.
»» Position yourself upwind. Let the wind
carry the extinguisher to the fire rather
than carrying the flames to you.
»» Continue until whatever was burning
has been cooled. Absence of smoke
or flame does not mean the fire is
completely out or cannot restart.
●● Use the right fire extinguisher. The B:C
type fire extinguisher is designed to work
on electrical fires and burning liquids.
The A:B:C type is designed to work on
burning wood, paper and cloth as well.
Water can be used on wood, paper or cloth, but don’t
use water on an electrical fire (you could get shocked)
or a gasoline fire (it will just spread the flames).
A burning tire must be cooled.
Lots of water may be required.
If you’re not sure what to use, especially on a
hazardous materials fire, wait for qualified firefighters.
Position yourself upwind. Let the wind
carry the extinguisher to the fire.
Continue until whatever was burning has
been cooled. Absence of smoke or flame
does not mean the fire cannot restart.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What are some things to do at an accident
scene to prevent another accident?
2. Name two causes of tire fires.
3. What kinds of fires is a B:C extinguisher not good for?
4. When using your extinguisher, should
you get as close as possible to the fire?
5. Name some causes of vehicle fires.
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 2.20 and 2.21.
2.22 Staying Alert and Fit to Drive
Driving a vehicle for long hours is tiring. Even the best of
drivers will become less alert. However, there are things that
good drivers do to help stay alert and safe.
BE READY TO DRIVE
Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is not like money. You can’t save
it up ahead of time and you can’t borrow it. But similar to
money, you can go into debt with it. If you don’t sleep enough,
you “owe” sleep to yourself. This debt can only be paid off by
sleeping. You can’t overcome it with willpower and it won’t go
away by itself. The average person needs seven or eight hours
of sleep every 24 hours. Leaving on a long trip when you’re
already tired is dangerous. If you have a long trip scheduled,
make sure you get enough sleep before you go. Most people
require 7 to 8 hours of sleep every 24 hours.
Schedule Trips Safely. Try to arrange your schedule so you
are not in “sleep debt” before a long trip. Your body gets used
to sleeping during certain hours. If you are driving during those
hours, you will be less alert. If possible, try to schedule trips for
the hours you are normally awake. Many heavy motor vehicle
accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. Tired drivers
can easily fall asleep at these times, especially if they don’t
regularly drive at those hours. Trying to push on and finish a
long trip at these times can be very dangerous.
Exercise Regularly. Resistance to fatigue and improved
sleep are among the benefits of regular exercise. Try to
incorporate exercise into your daily life. Instead of sitting and
watching TV in your sleeper, walk or jog a few laps around
the parking lot. A little bit of daily exercise will give you energy
throughout the day.
Eat Healthy. It is often hard for drivers to find healthy food.
But with a little extra effort, you can eat healthy, even on the
road. Try to find restaurants with healthy, balanced meals.
If you must eat at fast-food restaurants, pick low-fat items.
Another simple way to reduce your caloric intake is to eliminate
fattening snacks. Instead, try fruit or vegetables.
Avoid Medication. Many medicines can make you sleepy.
Those that do have a label warning against operating vehicles
or machinery. The most common medicine of this type is an
ordinary cold pill. If you need to drive with a cold, you are
better off suffering from the cold than from the effects of the
medicine.
Visit Your Doctor. Regular checkups literally can be
lifesavers. Illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, skin
and colon cancer can be detected easily and treated if found
in time.
You should consult your physician or a local sleep disorder
center if you suffer from frequent daytime sleepiness, have
difficulty sleeping at night, take frequent naps, fall asleep at
strange times, snore loudly, gasp and choke in your sleep and/
or wake up feeling as though you have not had enough sleep.
page 2:31
WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING
ALCOHOL AND DRIVING
Keep Cool. A hot, poorly ventilated cab can make you sleepy.
Keep the window or vent cracked or use the air conditioner,
if you have one.
Drinking alcohol and then driving is a very serious problem.
People who drink alcohol are involved in traffic accidents resulting
in over 20,000 deaths every year. You should know:
Take Breaks. Short breaks can help keep you alert. But the
time to take them is before you feel really drowsy or tired.
Stop often. Walk around and inspect your vehicle. It may help
to do some physical exercises.
Be sure to take a mid-afternoon break and plan to sleep
between midnight and 6 a.m.
Recognize the Danger Signals of Drowsy Driving. Sleep is
not voluntary. If you’re drowsy, you can fall asleep and never
even know it. If you are drowsy, you are likely to have “micro
sleeps” – brief naps that last around four or five seconds. At
55 miles an hour, that’s more than 100 yards, and plenty of
time for a crash. Even if you are not aware of being drowsy,
if you have a sleep debt you are still at risk. Here are a few
ways to tell if you’re about to fall asleep. If you experience
any of these danger signs, take them as a warning that you
could fall asleep without meaning to.
»» Your eyes close or go out of
focus by themselves.
»» You have trouble keeping your head up.
»» You can’t stop yawning.
»» You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.
●● How alcohol works in the human body.
●● How it affects driving.
●● Laws regarding drinking and driving.
●● The legal, financial and safety risks
of drinking and driving.
The Truth About Alcohol. There are many dangerous ideas
about the use of alcohol. The driver who believes in these
wrong ideas will be more likely to get into trouble. Here are
some examples:
FALSE
THE TRUTH
Alcohol increases
your ability to drive.
Alcohol is a drug that
will make you less
alert and reduce your
ability to drive safely.
Some people can drink a
lot and not be affected.
Everyone who drinks is
affected by alcohol.
If you eat a lot first, you
won’t get drunk.
Food will not keep you
from getting drunk.
Coffee and a little fresh air
will help a drinker sober up.
Only time will help a
drinker sober up — other
methods just don’t work.
Stick with beer — it’s not as
strong as wine or whiskey.
A few beers are the same
as a few shots of whiskey
or a few glasses of wine.
»» You don’t remember driving the last few miles.
»» You drift between lanes, tailgate
or miss traffic signs.
»» You keep jerking the truck back into
the lane. You have drifted off the road
and narrowly missed crashing.
If you have even one of these symptoms, you may be in danger
of falling asleep. Pull off the road in a safe place and take a nap.
WHEN YOU DO BECOME SLEEPY
When you are sleepy, trying to “push on” is far more dangerous
than most drivers think. It is a major cause of fatal accidents.
Here are some important rules to follow:
●● Stop to sleep. When your body needs sleep,
sleep is the only thing that will work. If you need
to make a stop anyway, make it whenever you feel
the first signs of sleepiness, even if it is earlier
than you planned. By getting up a little earlier
the next day, you can keep on schedule without
the danger of driving while you are not alert.
●● Take a nap. If you can’t stop for the night, at least pull
off at a safe place, such as a rest area or truck stop
and take a nap. A nap as short as a half-hour will do
more to overcome fatigue than a half-hour coffee stop.
●● Avoid drugs. There are no drugs that can overcome
being tired. While they may help to keep you awake
for a while, they won’t make you alert. And eventually,
you’ll be even more tired than if you hadn’t taken them
at all. Sleep is the only thing that can overcome fatigue.
●● Do Not. Do not rely on coffee or another source of
caffeine to keep you awake. Do not count on the radio,
an open window or other tricks to keep you awake.
page 2:32
What is a Drink? It is the alcohol in drinks that affects human
performance. It doesn’t make any difference whether that
alcohol comes from “a couple of beers” or from two glasses
of wine or two shots of hard liquor.
All of the following drinks contain the same amount of alcohol:
●● A 12 ounce glass of 5% beer.
●● A 5 ounce glass of 12% wine.
●● A 1½ ounce shot of 80 proof liquor.
How Alcohol Works. Alcohol goes directly from the stomach
into the blood stream. A drinker can control the amount of
alcohol which he or she takes in, by having fewer drinks or
none. However, the drinker cannot control how fast the body
gets rid of alcohol. If you have drinks faster than the body
can get rid of them, you will have more alcohol in your body
and your driving will be more affected. The amount of alcohol
in your body is commonly measured by the Blood Alcohol
Concentration (BAC).
What Determines Blood Alcohol Concentration. BAC is
determined by the amount of alcohol you drink (more alcohol
means higher BAC), how fast you drink (faster drinking means
higher BAC) and your weight (a small person doesn’t have
to drink as much as a larger person to reach the same BAC).
If a police or traffic officer asks you to take an Alcohol
Concentration test, you must do so. If you refuse to take it,
you will lose your driver license for one year.
Alcohol and the Brain. Alcohol affects more and more of
the brain as BAC builds up. The first part of the brain affected
controls judgement and self-control. One of the bad things
about this is it can keep drinkers from knowing they are getting
drunk. And, of course, good judgement and self-control are
absolutely necessary for safe driving.
As BAC continues to build up, muscle control, vision and
coordination are affected more and more. Eventually, a person
will pass out.
How Alcohol Affects Driving. All drivers are affected
by drinking alcohol. Alcohol affects judgement, vision,
coordination and reaction time. It causes serious driving
errors, such as:
●● Increased reaction time to hazards.
●● Driving too fast or too slow.
●● Driving in the wrong lane.
●● Running over the curb.
●● Weaving.
●● Straddling lanes.
●● Quick, jerky starts.
●● Not signaling, failure to use lights.
●● Running stop signs and red lights.
●● Improper passing.
These effects mean increased chances of a crash and
chances of losing your driver license. Accident statistics show
that the chance of a crash is much greater for drivers who
have been drinking than for drivers who were not.
2.23 Hazardous Materials Rules
for All Commercial Drivers
All drivers should know something about hazardous materials.
You must be able to recognize hazardous cargo and you
must know whether or not you can haul it without having a
hazardous materials endorsement to your CDL license.
WHAT ARE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk to health,
safety and property during transportation. Figure 2-17 is the
hazardous material table found in the federal rules. This table
lists the 9 different hazard classes.
WHY ARE THERE RULES?
To Contain the Product: Many hazardous products can
injure or kill on contact. To protect drivers and others from
contact, the rules tell shippers how to package safely. Similar
rules tell drivers how to load, transport and unload bulk tanks.
These are containment rules.
To Communicate the Risk: The shipper uses a shipping
paper and diamond-shaped hazard labels to warn dockworkers
and drivers of the risk.
Figure 2-17: Hazardous Materials Hazard
CLASS
NAME OF
CLASS OR DIVISION
1
Explosives
2
Gases
Propane
Helium
Oxygen
3
Flammable
Gasoline
Fuel
Acetone
4
Flammable Solids
Matches
Fuses
5
Oxidizers
Ammonium Nitrate
Hydrogen
Peroxide
Poisons
Pesticides
Arsenic
Infectious Substances
Anthrax Virus
7
Radioactive
Uranium
Plutonium
8
Corrosives
Hydrochloric Acid
Battery Acid
9
Miscellaneous
Hazardous Materials
Formaldehyde
Asbestos
ORM-D (Other Regulated
Material-Domestic)
Hair Spray
Charcoal
OTHER DRUGS
Besides alcohol, other legal and illegal drugs are being used
more often. Laws prohibit possession or use of many drugs
while on duty. They prohibit being under the influence of
any “controlled substance”; an amphetamine (including “pep
pills” and “bennies”), narcotics or any other substance which
can make the driver unsafe. This could include a variety of
prescription and over-the-counter drugs (cold medicines)
which may make the driver drowsy or otherwise affect safe
driving ability. However, possession and use of a drug given
to a driver by a doctor is permitted if the doctor informs the
driver that it will not affect safe driving ability.
Pay attention to warning labels of legitimate drugs and
medicines and to doctor’s orders regarding possible effects.
Avoid illegal drugs. Don’t use any drug that hides fatigue—the
only cure for fatigue is rest. Alcohol can make the effects of
other drugs much worse. The safest rule is don’t mix drugs
with driving at all.
Use of drugs can lead to traffic accidents resulting in death,
injury and property damage. Furthermore, it can lead to
arrest, fines and jail sentences. It can also mean the end of
a person’s driving career.
ILLNESS
Once in a while, you may become so ill that you cannot operate
a motor vehicle safely. If this happens to you, you must not
drive. However, in case of an emergency you may drive to
the nearest place where you can safely stop.
EXAMPLES
Dynamite
Fireworks
Ammunition
6
None
None Combustible Liquids
Fuel Oils
Lighter Fluid
page 2:33
After an accident or hazardous material spill or leak, you may
be injured and unable to communicate the hazards of the
materials you are transporting. Firefighters and police can
prevent or reduce the amount of damage or injury at the scene
if they know what hazardous materials are being carried. Your
life and the lives of others, may depend on quickly locating
the hazardous materials shipping papers. For that reason,
you must tab shipping papers related to hazardous materials
or keep them on top of other shipping papers. You must also
keep shipping papers:
●● In a pouch on the driver’s door, or
●● In clear view within reach while driving, or
●● On the driver’s seat when you are out of the vehicle.
PLACARDS
Placards are used to warn others of hazardous materials.
Placards are signs put on the outside of a vehicle which
identify the hazard class of the cargo. A placarded vehicle
must have at least four identical placards. They are put on the
front, rear and both sides. Placards must be readable from all
four directions. They are 10 3/4 inches square, turned upright
on a point, in a diamond shape (see Figure 2-18). Cargo tanks
and other bulk packaging display the identification number of
their contents on placards or orange panels.
Figure 2-18: Examples of Placards
POISON
ABLE
AMM
L
F
NON GAS
Hazardous materials drivers must also know which products
they can load together and which they can not. These rules
are also in Section 9 in Volume 2. Before loading a truck with
more than one type of product, you must know if it is safe to
load them together. If you do not know, ask your employer
and consult the regulations.
1. True or False? Common medicines
for colds can make you sleepy.
2. What should you do if you become sleepy while driving?
4. What is a hazardous materials placard?
CORROSIVE
6
RADIOACTIVE
WHEN
DANGEROUS WET
Not all vehicles carrying hazardous materials need to have
placards. The rules about placards are given in Section 9
in Volume 2. You can drive a vehicle that carries hazardous
materials if it does not require placards. If it requires placards,
you must not drive it unless your driver license has the
hazardous materials endorsement.
page 2:34
Drivers who need the hazardous materials endorsement must
learn the placard rules. If you do not know if your vehicle needs
placards, ask your employer. Never drive a vehicle needing
placards unless you have the hazardous materials
endorsement. To do so is a crime. When stopped, you will
be cited and you will not be allowed to drive your truck further.
It will cost you time and money. A failure to placard when
needed will risk your life and others if you have an accident.
Emergency help will not know of your hazardous cargo.
3. True or False? Coffee and a little fresh
air will help a drinker sober up.
DANGEROUS
FLAMMABLE
To get the required endorsement you must pass a written
test on material found in Section 9 in Volume 2. A tank
endorsement is required for certain vehicles that transport
liquids or gases (see section 8).
Test Your Knowledge
FLAMMABLE
SOLID
OXIDIZER
To Ensure Safe Drivers and Equipment. The rules require
all drivers of placarded vehicles to learn how to safely load and
transport hazardous products. They must have a commercial
driver license with the hazardous materials endorsement.
5. Why are placards used?
6. What is “sleep debt”?
7. What are the danger signals of drowsy driving?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 2.22 and 2.23.
Section 3: Transporting Cargo Safely
This section covers:
●● Inspecting Cargo
●● Cargo Weight and Balance
●● Securing Cargo
●● Cargo Needing Special Attention
This section tells you about hauling cargo safely. You must
understand basic cargo safety rules to get a CDL.
If you load cargo wrong or do not secure it, it can be a danger
to others and yourself. Loose cargo that falls off a vehicle
can cause traffic problems and others could be hurt or killed.
Loose cargo could hurt or kill you during a quick stop or crash.
Your vehicle could be damaged by an overload. Steering could
be affected by how a vehicle is loaded, making it more difficult
to control the vehicle.
Whether or not you load and secure the cargo yourself, you
are responsible for:
●● Inspecting your cargo.
●● Recognizing overloads and poorly balanced weight.
3.2 Weight and Balance
You are responsible for not being overloaded. The following
are some definitions of weight you should know.
DEFINITIONS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Gross vehicle weight (GVW). The total weight of a single
vehicle plus its load.
Gross combination weight (GCW). The total weight of a
powered unit, plus trailer(s) plus the cargo.
Gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). The maximum GVW
specified by the manufacturer for a single vehicle plus its load.
Gross combination weight rating (GCWR). The maximum
GCW specified by the manufacturer for a specific combination
of vehicles plus its load.
Axle weight. The weight transmitted to the ground by one
axle or one set of axles.
●● Knowing your cargo is properly secured and does
not obscure your view ahead or to the sides.
Tire load. The maximum safe weight a tire can carry at a specified pressure. This rating is stated on the side of each tire.
●● Knowing your cargo does not restrict your
access to emergency equipment.
Suspension systems. Suspension systems have a
manufacturer’s weight capacity rating.
These are discussed below.
Coupling device capacity. Coupling devices are rated for
the maximum weight they can pull and/or carry.
Note: If you intend to carry hazardous material that
requires placards on your vehicle, you must also have a
hazardous materials endorsement. Section 9 in Volume
2 has the information you need to pass the hazardous
materials test.
3.1 Inspecting Cargo
As part of your pre-trip inspection, make sure the truck is not
overloaded and the cargo is balanced and secured properly.
After Starting. Inspect the cargo and its securing devices
again within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip. Make any
adjustments needed.
Re-check. Re-check the cargo and securing devices as often
as necessary during a trip to keep the load secure. You need
to inspect again:
●● After you have driven for 3 hours or 150 miles.
●● After every break you take during driving.
Federal, state and local regulations for commercial vehicle
weight, securing cargo, covering loads and where you can
drive large vehicles vary from place to place. Know the rules
where you will be driving.
LEGAL WEIGHT LIMITS
You must keep weights within legal limits. States have
maximums for GVWs, GCWs and axle weights. Often,
maximum axle weights are set by a bridge formula. A bridge
formula permits less maximum axle weight for axles that
are closer together. This is to prevent overloading bridges
and roadways.
Overloading can have bad effects on steering, braking and
speed control. Overloaded trucks need to go very slowly
on upgrades. Worse, they may gain too much speed on
downgrades. Stopping distance increases. Brakes can fail
when they are forced to work too hard.
During bad weather or in mountains, it may not be safe to
operate at legal maximum weights. Take this into account
before driving.
DON’T BE TOP-HEAVY
The height of the vehicle’s center of gravity is very important
for safe handling. A high center of gravity (cargo piled up
high or heavy cargo on top) means you are more likely to tip
over. It is most dangerous in curves or if you have to swerve
to avoid a hazard. It is very important to distribute the cargo
so it is as low as possible. Put the heaviest parts of the cargo
under the lightest parts.
page 3:1
BALANCE THE WEIGHT
Poor weight balance can make vehicle handling unsafe. Too
much weight on the steering axle can cause hard steering. It
can damage the steering axle and tires. Underloaded front
axles (caused by shifting weight too far to the rear) can make
the steering axle weight too light to steer safely. Too little
weight on the driving axles can cause poor traction. The drive
wheels may spin easily. During bad weather, the truck may
not be able to keep going. Weight that is loaded so there is a
high center of gravity causes greater chance of rollover. On
flat bed vehicles, there is also a greater chance that the load
will shift to the side or fall off. Figure 3-1 shows examples of
the right and wrong way to balance cargo weight.
3.3 Securing Cargo
BLOCKING AND BRACING
Blocking is used in the front, back, and/or sides of a piece of
cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is shaped to fit snugly
against cargo. It is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo
movement.
Bracing is also used to prevent movement of cargo. Bracing
goes from the upper part of the cargo to the floor and/or walls
of the cargo compartment.
CARGO TIEDOWN
Figure 3-1: Always load cargo the right way!
RIGHT
WRONG
On flatbed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be
secured to keep it from shifting or falling off. In closed vans,
tiedowns can also be important to prevent cargo shifting that
may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tiedowns must be of the
proper type and proper strength. Federal regulations require
that the aggregate working load limit of any securement
system used to secure an article or group of articles against
movement must be at least one-half times the weight of the
article or group of articles. Proper tiedown equipment must be
used, including ropes, straps, chains and tensioning devices
(winches, ratchets, clinching components). Tiedowns must
be attached to the vehicle correctly (hook, bolt, rails, rings).
Figure 3-2: Tiedowns
Test Your Knowledge
1. For what four things related to cargo
are drivers responsible?
Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each 10 feet
of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet
this need. No matter how small the cargo, it should
have at least two tiedowns holding it.
2. How often must you stop while on
the road to check your cargo?
3. How is Gross Combination Weight Rating
different from Gross Combination Weight?
4. Name two situations where legal
maximum weights may not be safe.
5. What can happen if you don’t have
enough weight on the front axle?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 3.1 and 3.2.
page 3:2
There are special requirements for securing various heavy
pieces of metal. Find out what they are if you are to carry
such loads.
HEADER BOARDS
Front end header boards (“headache racks”) protect you from
your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure
the front end structure is in good condition. The front end
structure should block the forward movement of any cargo
you carry.
COVERING CARGO
There are two basic reasons for covering cargo:
●● To protect people from spilled cargo.
●● To protect the cargo from weather.
Spill protection is a safety requirement in many states.
Be familiar with the laws of the states in which you drive.
You should look at your cargo covers in the mirrors from time to
time while driving. A flapping cover can tear loose, uncovering
the cargo and possibly blocking your view or someone else’s.
SEALED AND CONTAINERIZED LOADS
Containerized loads generally are used when freight is
carried part way by rail or ship. Delivery by truck occurs at the
beginning and/or end of the journey. Some containers have
their own tiedown devices or locks that attach directly to a
special frame. Others need to be loaded onto flat bed trailers.
They must be properly secured just like any other cargo.
You cannot inspect sealed loads, but you should check that
you don’t exceed gross weight and axle weight limits.
3.4 Cargo Needing Special Attention
DRY BULK
Dry bulk tanks require special care because they often have
a high center of gravity and the load can shift. Be extremely
cautious (slow and careful) going around curves and making
sharp turns.
HANGING MEAT
Hanging meat (suspended beef, pork, lamb) in a refrigerated
truck can be a very unstable load with a high center of gravity.
Particular caution is needed on sharp curves such as off
ramps and on ramps. Go slowly.
LIVESTOCK
Livestock can move around in a trailer, causing unsafe
handling. With less than a full load, use false bulkheads to
keep livestock bunched together. Even when bunched, special
care is necessary because livestock can lean on curves. This
shifts the center of gravity and makes rollover more likely.
OVERSIZED LOADS
Over length, over width, and/or over weight loads require
special transit permits. Driving is usually limited to certain
times. Special equipment may be necessary such as “wide
load” signs, flashing lights, flags, etc. Such loads may require
a police escort or pilot vehicles bearing warning signs and/or
flashing lights. These special loads require special driving care.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What is the minimum number
of tiedowns for any flat bed load?
2. What is the minimum number
of tiedowns for a 20 ft. load?
3. Name the two basic reasons for
covering cargo on an open bed.
4. What must you check before
transporting a sealed load?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 3.3 and 3.4.
page 3:3
PART TWO
4. Transporting Passengers
5. Air Brakes
6. Combination Vehicles
7. Doubles and Triples
8. Tank Vehicles
9. Hazardous Materials
Note: This section is in Volume 2.
10. School Bus
Note: This section is in Volume 2.
Section 4: Transporting Passengers
This section covers:
●● Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection
●● Loading
●● On the Road
●● After-trip Vehicle Inspection
●● Prohibited Practices
●● Use of Brake-door Interlocks
Bus drivers must have a commercial driver license if they
drive a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more persons,
including the driver.
Bus drivers must have a passenger endorsement on their
commercial driver license. To get the endorsement you must
pass a knowledge test on Sections 2 and 4 of this manual. (If
your bus has air brakes, you must also pass a knowledge test
on Section 5.) You must also pass the skills tests required for
the class of vehicle you plan to drive.
BUS INTERIOR
People sometimes damage unattended buses. Always check
the interior of the bus before driving to ensure rider safety.
Aisles and stairwells should always be clear. The following
parts of your bus must be in safe working condition:
●● Each handhold and railing.
●● Floor covering.
●● Signaling devices, including the restroom
emergency buzzer, if the bus has a restroom.
●● Emergency exit handles.
The seats must be safe for riders. All seats must be securely
fastened to the bus.
Never drive with an open emergency exit door or window. The
“Emergency Exit” sign on an emergency door must be clearly
visible. If there is a red emergency door light, it must work.
Turn it on at night or any other time you use your outside lights.
ROOF HATCHES
4.1 Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection
Before driving your bus, you must be sure it is safe. You must
review the inspection report made by the previous driver. Only
if defects reported earlier have been certified as repaired
or not needing to be repaired, should you sign the previous
driver’s report. This is your certification that the defects
reported earlier have been fixed.
You may lock some emergency roof hatches in a partly open
position for fresh air. Do not leave them open as a regular
practice. Keep in mind the bus’s higher clearance while driving
with them open.
Make sure your bus has the fire extinguisher and emergency
reflectors required by law. The bus must also have spare
electrical fuses, unless equipped with circuit breakers.
VEHICLE SYSTEMS
USE YOUR SEATBELT!
Make sure these things are in good working
order before driving:
●● Service brakes, including air hose couplings
(if your bus has a trailer or semitrailer).
The driver’s seat should have a seat belt.
Always use it for safety.
●● Parking brake.
4.2 Loading and Trip Start
●● Steering mechanism.
●● Lights and reflectors.
●● Tires (front wheels must not have
recapped or re-grooved tires).
●● Horn.
●● Windshield wiper or wipers.
●● Rear-vision mirror or mirrors.
●● Coupling devices (if present).
Do not allow riders to leave carry-on baggage in a doorway
or aisle. There should be nothing in the aisle that might trip
other riders. Secure baggage and freight in ways that avoid
damage and:
●● Allow the driver to move freely and easily.
●● Allow riders to exit by any window
or door in an emergency.
●● Protect riders from injury if carry-ons fall or shift.
●● Wheels and rims.
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
●● Emergency equipment.
Watch for cargo or baggage containing hazardous materials.
Most hazardous materials cannot be carried on a bus.
ACCESS DOORS AND PANELS
The Federal Hazardous Materials Table shows which
materials are hazardous. They pose a risk to health, safety
and property during transportation. The rules require shippers
to mark containers of hazardous material with the material’s
name, ID number and hazard label. There are nine different
classes of four inch, diamond-shaped hazard labels like the
examples shown in Figure 4-1. Watch for the diamond-shaped
labels. Do not transport any hazardous material unless you
are sure the rules allow it.
As you check the outside of the bus, close any open
emergency exits. Also, close any open access panels (for
baggage, restroom service, engine, etc.) before driving.
page 4:1
FORBIDDEN HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
Buses may carry small-arms ammunition labeled ORM-D,
emergency hospital supplies and drugs. You can carry small
amounts of some other hazardous materials if the shipper
cannot send them any other way. Buses must never carry:
●● Division 2.3 poison gas, liquid Class 6
poison, tear gas, irritating material.
Remind riders to take carry-ons with them if they get off the
bus. If the aisle is on a lower level than the seats, remind
riders of the step-down. It is best to tell them before coming
to a complete stop.
Charter bus drivers should not allow riders on the bus until
departure time. This will help prevent theft or vandalism of
the bus.
●● More than 100 pounds of solid Class 6 poisons.
●● Explosives in the space occupied by
people, except small arms ammunition.
●● Labeled radioactive materials in
the space occupied by people.
●● More than 500 pounds total of allowed
hazardous materials and no more than
100 pounds of any one class.
Test Your Knowledge
1. Name some things to check in the interior
of a bus during a pre-trip inspection.
2. What are some hazardous materials
you can transport by bus?
3. What are some hazardous materials
you can not transport by bus?
4. What is a standee line?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 4.1 and 4.2.
4.3 On the Road
PASSENGER SUPERVISION
Many charter and intercity carriers have passenger comfort
and safety rules. Mention rules about smoking, drinking or use
of radio and tape players at the start of the trip. Explaining the
rules at the start will help to avoid trouble later on.
While driving, scan the interior of your bus as well as the road
ahead, to the sides and to the rear. You may need to remind
riders about rules or to keep arms and heads inside the bus.
AT STOPS
Riders sometimes board a bus with an unlabeled hazardous
material. Do not allow riders to carry on common hazards
such as car batteries or gasoline.
Figure 4-1: Examples of Labels
STANDEE LINE
No rider may stand forward of the rear of the driver’s seat.
Buses designed to allow standing must have a 2 inch line on
the floor or some other means of showing riders where they
cannot stand. This is called the standee line. All standing
riders must stay behind it.
Riders can stumble when getting on or off and when the
bus starts or stops. Caution riders to watch their step when
leaving the bus. Wait for them to sit down or brace themselves
before starting. Starting and stopping should be as smooth
as possible to avoid rider injury.
Occasionally, you may have a drunk or disruptive rider. You
must ensure this rider’s safety as well as that of others. Don’t
discharge such riders where it would be unsafe for them.
It may be safer at the next scheduled stop or a well-lighted area
where there are other people. Many carriers have guidelines
for handling disruptive riders.
COMMON ACCIDENTS
AT YOUR DESTINATION
When arriving at the destination
or intermediate stops announce:
●● The location
●● Reason for stopping
●● Next departure time, and
●● Bus number.
page 4:2
The most common bus crashes often happen at intersections.
Use caution, even if a signal or stop sign controls other traffic.
School and mass transit buses sometimes scrape off mirrors
or hit passing vehicles when pulling out from a bus stop.
Remember the clearance your bus needs and watch for poles
and tree limbs at stops. Know the size of the gap your bus
needs to accelerate and merge with traffic. Wait for the gap
to open before leaving the stop. Never assume other drivers
will brake to give you room when you signal or start to pull out.
SPEED ON CURVES
Crashes on curves that kill people and destroy buses result
from excessive speed, often when rain or snow has made the
road slippery. Every banked curve has a safe “design speed.”
In good weather, the posted speed is safe for cars but it may
be too high for many buses. With good traction, the bus may
roll over; with poor traction, it might slide off the curve. Reduce
speed for curves! If your bus leans toward the outside on
a banked curve, you are driving too fast.
RAILROAD CROSSINGS STOPS
Stop at railroad crossings. Stop your bus between 15 and
50 feet before railroad crossings. Listen and look in both
directions for trains. You should open your forward door if
it improves your ability to see or hear an approaching train.
Before crossing after a train has passed, make sure there isn’t
another train coming in the other direction on other tracks.
If your bus has a manual transmission, never change gears
while crossing the tracks.
You do not need to stop, but must slow down and carefully
check for other vehicles:
●● At street car crossings.
●● Where a policeman or flagman is directing traffic.
●● If a traffic signal shows green,
●● At crossings marked as “exempt” or “abandoned.”
4.5 Prohibited Practices
Avoid fueling your bus with riders on board unless absolutely
necessary. Never refuel in a closed building with riders on board.
Don’t talk with riders or engage in any other distracting activity
while driving.
Do not tow or push a disabled bus with riders aboard the
vehicle, unless getting off would be unsafe. Only tow or push
the bus to the nearest safe spot to discharge passengers.
Follow your employer’s guidelines on towing or pushing
disabled buses.
4.6 Use of Brake-Door Interlocks
Urban mass transit coaches may have a brake and accelerator
interlock system. The interlock applies the brakes and holds
the throttle in idle position when the rear door is open. The
interlock releases when you close the rear door. Do not use
this safety feature in place of the parking brake.
Test Your Knowledge
1. Does it matter where you make a disruptive
passenger get off the bus?
2. How far from a railroad crossing should you stop?
Wisconsin Note: In Wisconsin, school buses
must stop at tracks used for industrial switching.
DRAWBRIDGES
Stop at drawbridges that do not have a signal light or traffic
control attendant. Stop at least 50 feet before the draw of
the bridge. Look to make sure the draw is completely closed
before crossing. You do not need to stop, but must slow down
and make sure it’s safe, when:
●● there is a traffic light showing green.
3. When must you stop before crossing a drawbridge?
4. Describe from memory the “prohibited
practices” listed in the manual.
5. True or False? The rear door of a transit bus
has to be open to put on the parking brake
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 4.3, 4.4, 4.5 and 4.6.
●● the bridge has an attendant or traffic officer that
controls traffic whenever the bridge opens.
4.4 After-Trip Vehicle Inspection
Inspect your bus at the end of each shift. If you work for an
interstate carrier, you must complete a written inspection
report for each bus driven. The report must specify each
bus and list any defect that would affect safety or result in a
breakdown. If there are no defects, the report should say so.
Riders sometimes damage safety-related parts such as
handholds, seats, emergency exits and windows. If you report
this damage at the end of a shift, mechanics can make repairs
before the bus goes out again. Mass transit drivers should
also make sure passenger signaling devices and brake-door
interlocks work properly.
page 4:3
Section 5: Air Brakes
This section covers:
●● Air Brake System Parts
●● Dual Air Brake Systems
●● Inspecting Air Brakes
●● Using Air Brakes
This section tells you about air brakes. If you want to drive a
truck or bus with air brakes or pull a trailer with air brakes, you
should study this section. If you want to pull a trailer with air
brakes, you should also study Section 6 Combination Vehicles.
Air brakes use compressed air to make the brakes work.
Air brakes are a good and safe way of stopping large and
heavy vehicles, but the brakes must be well maintained and
properly used.
Air brakes are really three different braking systems: service
brake, parking brake and emergency brake systems.
●● The service brake system applies and
releases the brakes when you use the
brake pedal during normal driving.
●● The parking brake system applies and releases the
parking brakes when you use the parking brake control.
●● The emergency brake system uses parts of the
service and parking brake systems to stop the
vehicle in the event of a brake system failure.
The parts of these systems are discussed in greater detail
below.
AIR TANK DRAINS
Compressed air usually has some water and some compressor
oil in it, which is bad for the air brake system. For example,
the water can freeze in cold weather and cause brake failure.
The water and oil tend to collect in the bottom of the air
tank. Be sure that you drain the air tanks completely. Each
air tank is equipped with a drain valve in the bottom. There
are two types:
●● Manually operated by turning a quarter turn, shown
in Figure 5-1 or by pulling a cable. You must drain
the tanks yourself at the end of each day of driving.
●● Automatic—the water and oil is automatically expelled.
They may be equipped for manual draining as well.
The automatic types are available with electric heating devices.
These help prevent freeze up of the automatic drain in cold
weather.
Figure 5-1: Manual Drain Valve
Air Tank
Manual Draining Valve
5.1 The Parts of an Air Brake System
There are many parts to an air brake system. You should know
about the parts discussed here.
AIR COMPRESSOR
ALCOHOL EVAPORATOR
The air compressor pumps air into the air storage tanks
(reservoirs). The air compressor is connected to the engine
through gears or a V-belt. The compressor may be air cooled
or may be cooled by the engine cooling system. It may have its
own oil supply or be lubricated by engine oil. If the compressor
has its own oil supply, check the oil level before driving.
Some air brake systems have an alcohol evaporator to put
alcohol into the air system. This helps to reduce the risk of ice
in air brake valves and other parts during cold weather. Ice
inside the system can make the brakes stop working.
AIR COMPRESSOR GOVERNOR
The governor controls when the air compressor will pump air
into the air storage tanks. When air tank pressure rises to the
“cut-out” level (around 125 pounds per square inch or “psi”), the
governor stops the compressor from pumping air. When the
tank pressure falls to the “cut-in” pressure (around 100 psi),
the governor allows the compressor to start pumping again.
AIR STORAGE TANKS
Check the alcohol container and fill up as necessary, every
day during cold weather. Daily air tank drainage is still
needed to get rid of water and oil (unless the system has
automatic drain valves).
SAFETY VALVE
A safety relief valve is installed in the first tank the air
compressor pumps air to. The safety valve protects the tank
and the rest of the system from too much pressure. The valve
is usually set to open at 150 psi. If the safety valve releases
air, something is wrong. Have the fault fixed by a mechanic.
Air storage tanks are used to hold compressed air. The number
and size of air tanks varies among vehicles. The tanks will
hold enough air to allow the brakes to be used several times
even if the compressor stops working.
page 5:1
THE BRAKE PEDAL
You put on the brakes by pushing down the brake pedal.
(It is also called the foot valve or treadle valve.) Pushing the
pedal down harder applies more air pressure. Letting up on
the brake pedal reduces the air pressure and releases the
brakes. Releasing the brakes lets some compressed air go
out of the system, so the air pressure in the tanks is reduced.
It must be made up by the air compressor. Pressing and
releasing the pedal unnecessarily can let air out faster than
the compressor can replace it. If the pressure gets too low,
the brakes won’t work.
Figure 5-2: S-cam Drum Brake
Brake Drum
Brake Chamber
Slack Adjuster
Adjusting Nut
Axel
Brake Cam
FOUNDATION BRAKES
Foundation brakes are used at each wheel. The most common
type is the S-cam drum brake, shown in Figure 5-2. The parts
of the brake are discussed below:
●● Brake drums, shoes and linings. Brake
drums are located on each end of the vehicle’s
axles. The wheels are bolted to the drums. The
braking mechanism is inside the drum. To stop,
the brake shoes and linings are pushed against
the inside of the drum. This causes friction which
slows the vehicle (and creates heat). The heat
a drum can take without damage depends on
how hard and how long the brakes are used. Too
much heat can make the brakes stop working.
●● S-cam brakes. When you push the brake pedal,
air is let into each brake chamber. Air pressure
pushes the rod out, moving the slack adjuster,
thus twisting the brake camshaft. This turns the
S-cam (so called because it is shaped like the
letter “S”). The S-cam forces the brake shoes away
from one another and presses them against the
inside of the brake drum. When you release the
brake pedal, the S-cam rotates back and a spring
pulls the brake shoes away from the drum, letting
the wheels roll freely again. See Figure 5-2.
●● Wedge brakes. In this type of brake, the brake
chamber push rod pushes a wedge directly between
the ends of two brake shoes. This shoves them apart
and against the inside of the brake drum. Wedge
brakes may have a single brake chamber or two
brake chambers, pushing wedges in at both ends
of the brake shoes. Wedge type brakes may be
self adjusting or may require manual adjustment.
●● Disc brakes. In air operated disc brakes, air
pressure acts on a brake chamber and slack
adjuster, like S-cam brakes. But instead of the
S-cam, a “power screw” is used. The pressure
of the brake chamber on the slack adjuster turns
the power screw. The power screw clamps
the disc or rotor between the brake lining pads
of a caliper, similar to a large C-clamp.
Wedge brakes and disc brakes are less common
than S-cam brakes.
page 5:2
Cam Roller
Return Spring
Brake
Brake Shoe
SUPPLY PRESSURE GAUGES
All vehicles with air brakes have a pressure gauge connected
to the air tank. If the vehicle has a dual air brake system, there
will be a gauge for each half of the system or a single gauge
with two needles. Dual systems will be discussed later. These
gauges tell you how much pressure is in the air tanks.
APPLICATION PRESSURE GAUGES
This gauge shows how much air pressure you are applying to
the brakes. (Note: this gauge is not on all vehicles.) Increasing
application pressure to hold the same speed means the
brakes are fading. You should slow down and use a lower
gear. The need for increased pressure can also be caused by
brakes out of adjustment, air leaks or mechanical problems.
LOW AIR PRESSURE WARNING
A low air pressure warning signal is required on vehicles with
air brakes. A warning signal you can see must come on before
the air pressure in the tanks falls below 60 psi or one half the
compressor governor cut-out pressure on older vehicles. The
warning is usually a red light. A buzzer may also come on.
Another type of warning is the “wig wag.” This device drops
a mechanical arm into your view when the pressure in the
system drops below 60 psi. An automatic wig wag will rise out
of your view when the pressure in the system goes above 60
psi. The manual reset type must be placed in the “out of view”
position manually. It will not stay in place until the pressure in
the system is above 60 psi.
On large buses it is common for the low pressure warning
devices to signal at 80-85 psi.
STOP LIGHT SWITCH
Drivers behind you must be warned when you put on your
brakes. The air brake system does this with an electric switch
that works by air pressure. The switch turns on the brake lights
when you put on the air brakes.
FRONT BRAKE LIMITING VALVE
Some older vehicles (made before 1975) have a front brake
limiting valve and a control in the cab. The control is usually
marked “normal” and “slippery.” When you put the control
in the “slippery” position, the limiting valve cuts the “normal”
air pressure to the front brakes by half. Limiting valves were
used to reduce the chance of the front wheels skidding on
slippery surfaces. However, they actually reduce the stopping
power of the vehicle. Front wheel braking is good under all
conditions. Tests have shown front wheel skids from braking
are not likely even on ice. Make sure the control is in the
“normal” position to have normal stopping power.
Many vehicles have automatic front wheel limiting valves. They
reduce the air to the front brakes except when the brakes are
put on very hard (60 psi or more application pressure). These
valves cannot be controlled by the driver.
SPRING BRAKES
All trucks, truck tractors and buses must be equipped with
emergency brakes and parking brakes. They must be held on
by mechanical force (because air pressure can eventually leak
away). Spring brakes are usually used to meet these needs.
When driving, powerful springs are held back by air pressure.
If the air pressure is removed, the springs put on the brakes. A
parking brake control in the cab allows the driver to let the air
out of the spring brakes. This lets the springs put the brakes
on. A leak in the air brake system which causes all the air to
be lost will also cause the springs to put on the brakes.
Tractor and straight truck spring brakes will come fully on when
air pressure drops to a range of 20 to 45 psi (typically 20 to
30 psi). Do not wait for the brakes to come on automatically.
When the low air pressure warning light and/or buzzer first
come on, bring the vehicle to a safe stop right away, while
you can still control the brakes.
The braking power of spring brakes depends on the brakes
being in adjustment. If the brakes are not adjusted properly,
neither the regular brakes nor the emergency/parking brakes
will work right.
PARKING BRAKE CONTROLS
In newer vehicles with air brakes, you put on the parking
brakes using a diamond-shaped, yellow, push/pull control
knob. You pull the knob out to put the parking brakes (spring
brakes) on and push it in to release them. On older vehicles,
the parking brakes may be controlled by a lever. Use the
parking brakes whenever you park.
Caution: Never push the brake pedal down when the
spring brakes are on. If you do, the brakes could be
damaged by the combined forces of the springs and
the air pressure. Many brake systems are designed so
this will not happen. But not all systems are set up that
way and those that are may not always work. It is much
better to develop the habit of not pushing the brake
pedal down when the spring brakes are on.
Modulating Control Valves. In some vehicles a control
handle on the dash board may be used to apply the spring
brakes gradually. This is called a modulating valve. It is spring
loaded so you have a feel for the braking action. The more you
move the control lever, the harder the spring brakes come on.
They work this way so you can control the spring brakes if the
service brakes fail. When parking a vehicle with a modulating
control valve, move the lever as far as it will go and hold it in
place with the locking device.
Dual Parking Control Valves. When main air pressure is
lost, the spring brakes come on. Some vehicles, such as
buses, have a separate air tank which can be used to release
the spring brakes. This is so you can move the vehicle in
an emergency. One of the valves is a push-pull type and is
used to put on the spring brakes for parking. The other valve
is spring loaded in the “out” position. When you push the
control in, air from the separate air tank releases the spring
brakes so you can move. When you release the button, the
spring brakes come on again. There is only enough air in the
separate tank to do this a few times. Therefore, plan carefully
when moving. Otherwise, you may be stopped in a dangerous
location when the separate air supply runs out.
ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS (ABS)
Truck tractors with air brakes built on or after March 1, 1997
and other air brakes vehicles, (trucks, buses, trailers and
converter dollies) built on or after March 1, 1998 are required to
be equipped with antilock brakes. Many commercial vehicles
built before these dates have been voluntarily equipped with
ABS. Check the certification label for the date of manufacture
to determine if your vehicle is equipped with ABS. ABS is a
computerized system that keeps your wheels from locking up
during hard brake applications.
Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you
if something is not working.
Tractors, trucks and buses will have yellow ABS malfunction
lamps on the instrument panel.
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left side,
either on the front or rear corner. Dollies manufactured on or
after March 1, 1998 are required to have a lamp on the left side.
On newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up
for a bulb check and then goes out quickly. On older systems,
the lamp could stay on until you are driving over five mph.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check or goes on once
you are under way, you may have lost ABS control at one or
more wheels.
In the case of towed units manufactured before it was required
by the Department of Transportation, it may be difficult to tell if
the unit is equipped with ABS. Look under the vehicle for the
electronic control unit (ECU) and wheel speed sensor wires
coming from the back of the brakes.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease
or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates
when wheels are about to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance
but it does help you keep the vehicle under control during
hard braking.
page 5:3
DURING STEP 5: WALKAROUND INSPECTION
Test Your Knowledge
5. True or False? Front wheel brakes
are good under all conditions
Check Manual Slack Adjusters on S-cam Brakes. Park on
level ground and chock the wheels to prevent the vehicle from
moving. Release the parking brakes so you can move the slack
adjusters. Use gloves and pull hard on each slack adjuster
that you can reach. If a slack adjuster moves more than about
one inch where the push rod attaches to it, it probably needs
adjustment. Adjust it or have it adjusted. Vehicles with too much
brake slack can be very hard to stop. Out-of-adjustment brakes
are the most common problem found in roadside inspections.
Be safe. Check the slack adjusters.
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 5.1.
All vehicles built since 1994 have automatic slack adjustors.
Even though automatic slack adjustors adjust themselves
during full brake applications, they must be checked.
1. Why must air tanks be drained?
2. What is a supply pressure gauge used for?
3. True or False? All vehicles with air brakes must
have a low air pressure warning signal.
4. What are spring brakes?
5.2 Dual Air Brakes
Most newer heavy duty vehicles use dual air brake systems
for safety. A dual air brake system has two separate air brake
systems which use a single set of brake controls. Each system
has its own air tanks, hoses, lines, etc. One system typically
operates the regular brakes on the rear axle or axles. The
other system operates the regular brakes on the front axle
and possibly one rear axle. Both systems supply air to the
trailer (if there is one). The first system is called the “primary”
system. The other is called the “secondary” system.
Before driving a vehicle with a dual air system, allow time for
the air compressor to build up a minimum of 100 psi pressure
in both the primary and secondary systems. Watch the primary
and secondary air pressure gauges (or needles, if the system
has two needles in one gauge). Pay attention to the low air
pressure warning light and/or buzzer. The warning light and/
or buzzer should shut off when air pressure in both systems
rises to a value set by the manufacturer. This value must be
greater than 60 psi.
The warning light and/or buzzer should come on before the air
pressure drops below 60 psi in either system. If this happens
while driving, you should stop right away and safely park the
vehicle. If one air system is very low on pressure, either the
front or the rear brakes will not be operating fully. This means
it will take you longer to stop. Bring the vehicle to a safe stop
and have the air brakes system fixed.
5.3 Inspecting Air Brake Systems
You should use the basic seven step inspection procedure
described in Section 2 to inspect your vehicle. There are more
things to inspect on a vehicle with air brakes than one without
them. We discuss these things below, in the order that they
fit into the seven-step method.
DURING STEP 2: ENGINE
COMPARTMENT CHECKS
Check Air Compressor Drive Belt (if compressor is
belt driven). If the air compressor is belt driven, check the
condition and tightness of the belt. The belt should be in
good condition.
page 5:4
Automatic adjusters should not have to be manually adjusted
except when performing maintenance on the brakes and
during installation of the slack adjusters. In a vehicle equipped
with automatic adjusters, when the pushrod stroke exceeds
the legal brake adjustment limit, it is an indication that a
mechanical problem exists in the adjuster itself, a problem with
the related foundation brake components or that the adjuster
was improperly installed.
The manual adjustment of an automatic adjuster to bring a
brake pushrod stroke within legal limits is generally masking
a mechanical problem and is not fixing it. Further, routine
adjustment of most automatic adjusters will likely result in
premature wear of the adjuster itself. It is recommended that
when brakes equipped with automatic adjusters are found to
be out of adjustment, the driver take the vehicle to a repair
facility as soon as possible to have the problem corrected. The
manual adjustment of automatic slack adjusters is dangerous
because it may give the driver a false sense of security
regarding the effectiveness of the braking system.
The manual adjustment of an automatic adjuster should only
be used as a temporary measure to correct the adjustment
in an emergency situation as it is likely the brake will soon be
back out of adjustment since this procedure usually does not
fix the underlying adjustment problem.
(Note: Automatic slack adjusters are made by different
manufacturers and do not all operate the same. Therefore, the
specific manufacturer’s Service Manual should be consulted
prior to troubleshooting a brake adjustment problem.)
Check Brake Drums (or Discs), Linings and Hoses. Brake
drums (or discs) must not have cracks longer than one half
the width of the friction area. Linings (friction material) must
not be loose or soaked with oil or grease. They must not be
dangerously thin. Mechanical parts must be in place, not
broken or missing. Check the air hoses connected to the brake
chambers to make sure they aren’t cut or worn due to rubbing.
STEP 7: FINAL AIR BRAKE CHECK
Do the following checks instead of the hydraulic brake check
shown in Section Two “Step 7: Check Brake System.”
Test air leakage rate (static check). With a fully-charged
air system (typically 125 psi), turn off the engine, chock
the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake button
(all vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination
vehicles) and time the air pressure drop. After the initial
pressure drop, the loss rate should be no more than 2 psi in
one minute for single vehicles and no more than 3 psi in one
minute for combination vehicles.
(L) LEAKS
Test air brake system for leaks. With parking brake, (all
vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination
vehicles) released (pushed in), apply firm pressure to the
service brake pedal. Watch the air supply gauge and listen for
leaks. After the initial pressure drop, the loss rate for single
vehicles should be no more than 3 psi in one minute and no
more than 4 psi in one minute for combination vehicles. If
the air loss rate exceeds these figures, have the air system
repaired before operating. Otherwise, you could lose your
brakes while driving.
Note any vehicle “pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed
stopping action.
This test may show you problems which you otherwise
wouldn’t know about until you needed the brakes on the road.
Note: To pass the pre-trip inspection, the driver must
locate and identify all air brake components, perform
the LAB (leaks, alarm and button(s)) and correctly check
the service (foot) brake operation.
(A) ALARM
Test low pressure warning alarm and/or signal. Turn the
key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release the service
brake pedal to reduce air tank pressure. The low air pressure
warning signal must come on before the pressure drops to
less than 60 psi in the air tank (or tank with the lowest air
pressure, in dual air systems).
If the warning alarm/signal doesn’t work, you could lose air
pressure without knowing it. This could cause the spring
brakes to activate suddenly in a single-circuit air system. In
dual systems the stopping distance will be increased. Only
limited braking can be done before the spring brakes come on.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What is a dual air brake system?
2. What are the slack adjusters?
3. How can you check slack adjusters?
4. How can you test the low pressure warning signal?
5. What can you check to make sure the spring
brakes will come on automatically?
6. What are the maximum leakage rates?
(B) BUTTON(S)
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 5.2 and 5.3.
Check that the spring brakes come on automatically.
Continue to rapidly apply and release the service brake pedal
to further reduce air tank pressure. The trailer air supply
button (if it’s a combination vehicle) and parking brake button
should close (pop out) when the air pressure falls to the
manufacturer’s specification (usually between 20 to 45 psi).
This will cause the spring brakes to come on.
5.4 Using Air Brakes
Check rate of air pressure buildup. When the engine is
at operating rpms, the pressure should build from 85 to 100
psi within 45 seconds in dual air systems. If the vehicle has
larger than minimum air tanks, the buildup time can be longer
and still be safe. Check the manufacturer’s specifications.
If air pressure does not build up fast enough, your pressure
may drop too low during driving, requiring an emergency stop.
Do not drive until you get the problem fixed.
Check air compressor governor cut-in and cut-out
pressures. Pumping by the air compressor should start at
about 100 psi and stop at about 125 psi. (Check manufacturer’s
specifications.) Run the engine at a fast idle. The air governor
should cut-out the air compressor at about the manufacturer’s
specified pressure. The air pressure shown by your gauge(s)
will stop rising. With the engine idling, step on and off the
brake to reduce the air tank pressure. The compressor should
cut-in at about the manufacturer’s specified cut-in pressure.
The pressure should begin to rise.
If the air governor does not work as described above, it may
need to be fixed. A governor that does not work properly may
not keep enough air pressure for safe driving.
Test parking brake. Stop the vehicle, put the parking brake
on and gently pull against it in a low gear to test that the
parking brake will hold.
Test service brakes. Wait for normal air pressure, release
the parking brake, move the vehicle forward slowly (about
5 mph) and apply the brakes firmly using the brake pedal.
NORMAL STOPS
Push the brake pedal down. Control the pressure so the
vehicle comes to a smooth, safe stop. If you have a manual
transmission, don’t push the clutch in until the engine RPM
is down close to idle. When stopped, select a starting gear.
BRAKING WITH ANTILOCK BRAKES
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a vehicle without
ABS, your wheels may lock up. When your steering wheels
lock up, you lose steering control. When your other wheels
lock up, you may skid, jackknife or even spin the vehicle.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up. The computer senses
impending lockup, reduces the braking pressure to a safe
level and you maintain control.
You may or may not be able to stop faster with ABS, but you
should be able to steer around an obstacle while braking and
avoid skids caused by over braking.
Having ABS on only the tractor, only the trailer or even on only
one axle still gives you more control over the vehicle during
braking. Brake normally.
When only the tractor has ABS, you should be able to maintain
steering control and there is less chance of jackknifing. But
keep your eye on the trailer and let up on the brakes (if you
can safely do so) if it begins to swing out.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less likely to
swing out but if you lose steering control or start a tractor
jackknife, let up on the brakes (if you can safely do so) until
you gain control.
page 5:5
When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with ABS, you
should brake as you always have. In other words:
●● Use only the braking force necessary
to stop safely and stay in control.
●● Brake the same way, regardless of whether you
have ABS on the tractor, the trailer or both.
●● As you slow down, monitor your tractor
and trailer and back off the brakes (if it
is safe to do so) to stay in control.
There is only one exception to this procedure. If you always
drive a straight truck or combination with working ABS on all
axles, in an emergency stop you can fully apply the brakes.
Without ABS, you still have normal brake functions. Drive and
brake as you always have.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still have regular
brakes. Drive normally, but get the system serviced soon.
EMERGENCY STOPS
If somebody suddenly pulls out in front of you, your natural
response is to hit the brakes. This is a good response if there’s
enough distance to stop and you use the brakes correctly.
You should brake in a way that will keep your vehicle in a
straight line and allow you to turn if it becomes necessary.
You can use the “controlled braking” method or the “stab
braking” method.
Controlled Braking. With this method, you apply the brakes
as hard as you can without locking the wheels. Keep steering
wheel movements very small while doing this. If you need
to make a larger steering adjustment or if the wheels lock,
release the brakes. Reapply the brakes as soon as you can.
Stab Braking.
●● Apply your brakes all the way.
●● Release the brakes when the wheels lock up.
●● As soon as the wheels start rolling, apply the
brakes fully again. (It can take up to one second
for the wheels to start rolling after you release the
brakes. If you reapply the brakes before the wheels
start rolling, the vehicle won’t straighten out.).
Note: If you drive a vehicle with anti-lock brakes, you
should read and follow the instructions found in the
vehicle owner’s manual for emergency stops.
STOPPING DISTANCE
We discussed stopping distance in Section 2 under “Speed
and Stopping Distance.” With air brakes there is an added
delay - “brake lag.” Brake lag is the time required for the
brakes to work after the brake pedal is pushed. With hydraulic
brakes (used on cars and light/medium trucks), the brakes
work instantly. However, with air brakes, it takes a little time
(one half second or more) for the air to flow through the lines
to the brakes. Thus, the total stopping distance for vehicles
with air brake systems is made up of four different factors.
Perception Distance
+ Reaction Distance
+ Brake Lag Distance
+ Effective Braking Distance
= Total Stopping Distance
The air brake lag distance at 55 mph on dry pavement adds
about 32 feet. So at 55 mph for an average driver under good
traction and brake conditions, the total stopping distance is
over 450 feet. This is longer than a football field.
BRAKE FADING OR FAILURE
Brakes are designed so brake shoes or pads rub against
the brake drum or disks to slow the vehicle. Braking creates
heat, but brakes are designed to take a lot of heat. However,
brakes can fade or fail from excessive heat caused by using
them too much and not relying on the engine braking effect.
Excessive use of the service brakes results in overheating
and leads to brake fade. Brake fade results from excessive
heat causing expansion of the brake drums and chemical
changes in the brake lining, which reduces friction. As the
overheated drums expand, the brake shoes and linings have
to move farther to contact the drums and the force of this
contact is reduced. Continued overuse may increase brake
fade until the vehicle cannot be slowed down or stopped at all.
Brake fade is also affected by adjustment. To safely control
a vehicle, every brake must do its share of the work. Brakes
out-of-adjustment will stop doing their share before those
that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat
and fade and there will not be sufficient braking available
to control the vehicle(s). Brakes can get out-of-adjustment
quickly, especially when they are hot. Therefore, check brake
adjustment often.
PROPER BRAKING TECHNIQUE
Remember: the use of brakes on a long and/or steep
downgrade is only a supplement to the braking effect of
the engine. Once the vehicle is in the proper low gear, the
following is the proper braking technique:
●● Apply the brakes just hard enough
to feel a definite slowdown.
●● When your speed has been reduced to
approximately five mph below your “safe” speed,
release the brakes. (This brake application
should last for about three seconds.)
●● When your speed has increased to your
“safe” speed, repeat steps 1 and 2.
For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not
apply the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now
apply the brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed
to 35 mph and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as
necessary until you have reached the end of the downgrade.
LOW AIR PRESSURE
If the low air pressure warning comes on, stop and safely
park your vehicle as soon as possible. There might be
an air leak in the system. Controlled braking is possible only
while enough air remains in the air tanks. The spring brakes
will come on when the air pressure drops into the range of 20
to 45 psi. A heavily loaded vehicle will take a long distance
to stop because the spring brakes do not work on all axles.
Lightly loaded vehicles or vehicles on slippery roads may
skid out of control when the spring brakes come on. It is
much safer to stop while there is enough air in the tanks to
use the foot brakes.
PARKING BRAKES
Any time you park, use the parking brakes, except as noted
below. Pull the parking brake control knob out to apply the
parking brakes, push it in to release them. The control will
be a yellow, diamond -shaped knob labeled “parking brakes”
on newer vehicles. On older vehicles, it may be a round blue
knob or some other shape (including a lever that swings from
side to side or up and down).
Test Your Knowledge
1. Why should you be in the proper gear
before starting down a hill?
2. What factors can cause brakes to fade or fail?
3. True or False? The use of brakes on a long
steep downgrade is only a supplement
to the braking effect of the engine.
4. True or False? If you are away from your vehicle only
a short time, you don’t need to use the parking brake.
5. How often should you drain air tanks?
6. How do you brake when you drive a tractortrailer combination with ABS?
7. True or False? You still have normal brake
functions if your ABS is not working.
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 5.4.
Don’t use the parking brakes if the brakes are very hot (from
just having come down a steep grade) or if the brakes are very
wet in freezing temperatures. If they are used while they are
very hot, they can be damaged by the heat. If they are used
in freezing temperatures when the brakes are very wet, they
can freeze so the vehicle cannot move. Use wheel chocks on
a level surface to hold the vehicle. Let hot brakes cool before
using the parking brakes. If the brakes are wet, use the brakes
lightly while driving in a low gear to heat and dry them.
If your vehicle does not have automatic air tank drains, drain
your air tanks at the end of each working day to remove
moisture and oil. Otherwise, the brakes could fail.
Never leave your vehicle unattended without
applying the parking brakes or chocking the wheels.
Your vehicle might roll away and cause injury and
damage.
page 5:7
page 5:8
Section 6: Combination Vehicles
This section covers:
●● Driving Combination Vehicles
●● Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
●● Antilock Brake Systems
●● Coupling and Uncoupling
●● Inspecting Combinations
This section provides information needed to pass the tests for
combination vehicles (tractor-trailer, doubles, triples, straight
truck with trailer). The information is only to give you the
minimum knowledge needed for driving common combination
vehicles. You should also study Section 7 if you need to pass
the tests for doubles-triples.
6.1 Driving Combination
Vehicles Safely
Combination vehicles are usually heavier, longer and require
more driving skill than single commercial vehicles. This means
that drivers of combination vehicles need more knowledge
and skill than drivers of single vehicles. In this section, we talk
about some important safety factors that apply specifically to
combination vehicles.
ROLLOVER RISKS
More than half of truck driver deaths in crashes are the result
of truck rollovers. When more cargo is piled up in a truck, the
“center of gravity” moves higher up from the road. The truck
becomes easier to turn over. Fully loaded rigs are ten times
more likely to roll over in a crash than empty rigs. The following
two things will help you prevent rollover:
Figure 6-1: Influence of Combination
Type on Rearward Amplification
5 axle tractor-semitrailer
with 45 ft trailer
3 axle tractor-semitrailer
with 27 ft trailer
turnpike double
45 ft trailers
B-train double
27 ft trailers
Rocky Mountain double
45 ft and 27 ft trailers
California truck full trailer
65 ft conventional
double 27 ft trailers
triple 27 ft trailers
( R. D. Ervin, R. L. Nisonger, C. C. MacAdam and
P. S. Fancher, “Influence of size and weight variables
on the stability and properties of heavy trucks”, University
of Michigan Transportationn Research Institute, 1983.)
Steer gently and smoothly when you are pulling trailers.
If you make a sudden movement with your steering wheel, your
trailer could tip over. Follow far enough behind other vehicles
(at least one second for each 10 feet of your vehicle length, plus
another second if going over 40 mph). Look far enough down
the road to avoid being surprised and having to make a sudden
lane change. At night, drive slowly enough to see obstacles
with your headlights before it is too late to change lanes or stop
gently. Slow down to a safe speed before going into a turn.
●● Keep the cargo as close to the ground as possible.
●● Drive slowly around turns.
Keeping cargo low is even more important in combination
vehicles than in straight trucks. Also, keep the load centered
on your rig. If the load is to one side so it makes a trailer lean,
a rollover is more likely. Make sure your cargo is centered
and spread out as much as possible. (Cargo distribution is
covered in Section 3 of this manual.).
Rollovers happen when you turn too fast. Drive slowly around
corners, on-ramps and off-ramps. Avoid quick lane changes,
especially when fully loaded.
STEER GENTLY
Trucks with trailers have a dangerous “crack-the-whip” effect.
When you make a quick lane change, the crack-the-whip
effect can turn the trailer over. There are many accidents
where only the trailer has overturned.
“Rearward amplification” causes the crack-the-whip effect.
Figure 6-1 shows eight types of combination vehicles and the
rearward amplification each has in a quick lane change. Rigs
with the least crack-the-whip effect are shown at the top and
those with the most, at the bottom. Rearward amplification of
2.0 in the chart means that the rear trailer is twice as likely to
turn over as the tractor. You can see that triples have a rearward
amplification of 3.5. This means you can roll the last trailer of
triples 3.5 times as easily as a five-axle tractor.
page 6:1
BRAKE EARLY
PREVENT TRAILER SKIDS
Control your speed whether fully loaded or empty. Large
combination vehicles take longer to stop when they are empty
than when they are fully loaded. When lightly loaded, the very
stiff suspension springs and strong brakes give poor traction
and make it very easy to lock up the wheels. Your trailer can
swing out and strike other vehicles. Your tractor can jackknife
very quickly (Figure 6-2). You must also be very careful about
driving “bobtail” tractors (tractors without semitrailers). Tests
have shown that bobtails can be very hard to stop smoothly.
It takes them longer to stop than a tractor-semitrailer loaded
to maximum gross weight.
When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to
swing around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is
empty or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is often called
a “trailer jackknife.” See Figure 6-3.
Figure 6-3: Trailer Jackknife
Line of Travel
In any combination rig, allow lots of following distance and
look far ahead, so you can brake early. Don’t be caught by
surprise and have to make a “panic” stop.
Figure 6-2: Tractor Jackknife
Line of Travel
Direction of Slide
Trailer Wheels
Locked and Sliding
Rear Tractor Wheels
locked-up or spinning
The procedure for stopping a trailer skid is as follows:
●● Recognize the skid. The earliest and best way to
recognize the trailer has started to skid is by seeing
it in your mirrors. Any time you apply the brakes hard,
check the mirrors to make sure the trailer is staying
where it should be. Once the trailer swings out of
your lane, it is very difficult to prevent a jackknife.
●● Stop using the brake. Release the brakes to get
traction back. Do not use the trailer hand brake (if
you have one) to “straighten out the rig.” This is the
wrong thing to do since the brakes on the trailer
wheels caused the skid in the first place. Once
the trailer wheels grip the road again, the trailer
will start to follow the tractor and straighten out.
TURN WIDE
When a vehicle goes around a corner, the rear wheels follow a
different path than the front wheels. This is called offtracking
or “cheating.” Figure 6-4 shows how offtracking causes the
path followed by a tractor-semi to be wider than the rig itself.
page 6:2
Longer vehicles will offtrack more. The rear wheels of the
powered unit (truck or tractor) will offtrack some and the rear
wheels of the trailer will offtrack even more. If there is more
than one trailer, the rear wheels of the last trailer will offtrack
the most. Steer the front end wide enough around a corner
so the rear end does not run over the curb, pedestrians, other
vehicles, etc. However, keep the rear of your vehicle close
to the curb. This will stop other drivers from passing you on
the right.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What two things are important to prevent rollover?
2. When you turn suddenly while pulling doubles,
which trailer is most likely to turn over?
3. Why should you not use the trailer hand brake
to straighten out a jackknifing trailer?
4. What is offtracking?
Figure 6-4: Offtracking in a 90-degree turn
5. Why should you turn like it shows in Figure 6-5?
These questions may be on your test. If you are
unable to answer them all, re-read Section 6.1.
Maximum width
of sweep path
Path followed by
innermost tire
Path followed by outside tire
If you cannot complete your turn without entering another
traffic lane, turn wide as you complete the turn (Figure
6-5). This is better than swinging wide to the left (Figure 6-6)
before starting the turn because it will keep other drivers from
passing you on the right.
Figure 6-5: Turn this way so cars
don’t try to pass you on the right.
6.2 Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
You should study “Section 5: Air Brakes” before reading this
section. In combination vehicles, the braking system has parts
to control the trailer brakes, in addition to the parts described
in Section 5. These parts are described below.
TRAILER HAND VALVE
The trailer hand valve (also called the trolley valve or Johnson
bar) works the trailer brakes. The trailer hand valve should be
used only to test the trailer brakes. Do not use it while driving
because of the danger of making the trailer skid. The foot
brake sends air to all of the brakes on the vehicle (including
the trailer(s). There is much less danger of causing a skid or
jackknife when using just the foot brake.
Never use the hand valve for parking because all the air might
leak out unlocking the brakes (in trailers that don’t have spring
brakes). Always use the parking brakes when parking. If the
trailer does not have spring brakes, use wheel chocks to keep
the trailer from moving.
TRACTOR PROTECTION VALVE
Figure 6-6: Don’t turn this way!
The tractor protection valve keeps air in the tractor or truck
brake system should the trailer break away or develop a bad
leak. The tractor protection valve is controlled by the “trailer
air supply” control valve in the cab. The control valve allows
you to open and shut the tractor protection valve. The tractor
protection valve will close automatically if air pressure is low
(in the range of 20 to 45 psi). When the tractor protection
valve closes, it stops any air from going out of the tractor. It
also lets the air out of the trailer emergency line. This causes
the trailer emergency brakes to come on, with possible loss
of control. (Emergency brakes are covered later.)
TRAILER AIR SUPPLY CONTROL
The trailer air supply control on newer vehicles is a red eightsided knob which you use to control the tractor protection
valve. You push it in to supply the trailer with air and pull it
out to shut the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes.
The valve will pop out (thus closing the tractor protection
valve) when the air pressure drops into the range of 20 to 45
psi. Tractor protection valve controls or “emergency” valves
on older vehicles, may not operate automatically. There may
be a lever rather than a knob. The “normal” position is used
for pulling a trailer. The “emergency” position is used to shut
the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes.
page 6:3
TRAILER AIR LINES
TRAILER AIR TANKS
Every combination vehicle has two air lines, the service line
and the emergency line. They run between each vehicle
(tractor to trailer, trailer to dolly, dolly to second trailer, etc.).
Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more air tanks.
They are filled by the emergency (supply) line from the tractor.
They provide the air pressure used to operate trailer brakes. Air
pressure is sent from the air tanks to the brakes by relay valves.
Service Air Line. The service line (also called the control line
or signal line) carries air which is controlled by the foot brake
or the trailer hand brake. Depending on how hard you press
the foot brake or hand valve, the pressure in the service line
will similarly change. The service line is connected to relay
valves. These valves allow the trailer brakes to be applied
more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
The pressure in the service line tells how much pressure the
relay valves should send to the trailer brakes. The pressure
in the service line is controlled by the brake pedal and the
trailer hand brake.
It is important that you don’t let water and oil build up in the air
tanks. If you do, the brakes may not work correctly. Each tank
has a drain valve on it and you should drain each tank every
day. If your tanks have automatic drains, they will keep most
moisture out. But you should still open the drains to make sure.
Emergency Air Line. The emergency line (also called the
supply line) has two purposes. First, it supplies air to the trailer
air tanks. Second, the emergency line controls the emergency
brakes on combination vehicles. Loss of air pressure in the
emergency line causes the trailer emergency brakes to come
on. The pressure loss could be caused by a trailer breaking
loose, thus tearing apart the emergency air hose. Or it could
be caused by a hose, metal tubing or other part that breaks,
letting the air out. When the emergency line loses pressure,
it also causes the tractor protection valve to close (the air
supply knob will pop out).
Shut-off valves (also called cut-out cocks) are used in the
service and supply air lines at the back of trailers used to
tow other trailers. These valves permit closing the air lines off
when another trailer is not being towed. You must check that
all shut-off valves are in the open position except the ones at
the back of the last trailer, which must be closed.
Emergency lines are often coded with the color red (red hose,
red couplers or other parts) to keep from getting them mixed
up with the blue service line.
TRAILER SERVICE, PARKING AND
EMERGENCY BRAKES
HOSE COUPLERS (GLAD HANDS)
Glad hands are coupling devices used to connect the service
and emergency air lines from the truck or tractor to the trailer.
The couplers have a rubber seal which prevents air from
escaping. Clean the couplers and rubber seals before a
connection is made. When connecting the glad hands, press
the two seals together with the couplers at a 90 degree angle
to each other. A turn of the glad hand attached to the hose
will join and lock the couplers.
When coupling, make sure to couple the proper glad hands
together. To help avoid mistakes, colors are sometimes used.
Blue is used for the service lines and red for the emergency
(supply) lines. Sometimes, metal tags are attached to the lines
with the words “service” and “emergency” stamped on them.
If you do cross the air lines, supply air will be sent to the
service line instead of going to charge the trailer air tanks.
Air will not be available to release the trailer spring brakes
(parking brakes). If the spring brakes don’t release when
you push the trailer air supply control, check the air line
connections.
Older trailers do not have spring brakes. If the air supply in the
trailer air tank has leaked away, there will be no emergency
brakes and the trailer wheels will turn freely. If you crossed
the air lines, you could drive away but you wouldn’t have trailer
brakes. This would be very dangerous. Always test the
trailer brakes before driving with the hand valve or by pulling
the air supply (tractor protection valve) control. Pull gently
against them in a low gear to make sure the brakes work.
Some vehicles have “dead end” or dummy couplers to which
the hoses may be attached when they are not in use. This
will prevent water and dirt from getting into the coupler and
the air lines. Use the dummy couplers when the air lines are
not connected to a trailer. If there are no dummy couplers, the
glad hands can sometimes be locked together (depending on
the couplings). It is very important to keep the air supply clean.
page 6:4
SHUT-OFF VALVES
Newer trailers have spring brakes just like trucks and truck
tractors. However, converter dollies and trailers built before
1975 are not required to have spring brakes. Those that do not
have spring brakes have emergency brakes which work from
the air stored in the trailer air tank. The emergency brakes
come on whenever air pressure in the emergency line is lost.
These trailers have no parking brake. The emergency brakes
come on whenever the air supply knob is pulled out or the
trailer is disconnected. A major leak in the emergency line
will cause the tractor protection valve to close and the trailer
emergency brakes to come on. But the brakes will hold only as
long as there is air pressure in the trailer air tank. Eventually,
the air will leak away and there will be no brakes. Therefore,
it is very important for safety that you use wheel chocks when
you park trailers without spring brakes.
You may not notice a major leak in the service line until you
try to put the brakes on. Then, the air loss from the leak will
lower the air tank pressure quickly. If it goes low enough, the
trailer emergency brakes will come on.
Test Your Knowledge
1. Why should you not use the trailer
hand valve while driving?
2. Describe what the trailer air supply control does.
3. Describe what the service line is for.
4. What is the emergency air line for?
5. Why should you use chocks when parking
a trailer without spring brakes?
6. Where are shut-off valves?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 6.2.
6.3 – Antilock Brake Systems
6.4 Coupling and Uncoupling
TRAILERS REQUIRED TO HAVE ABS
Knowing how to couple and uncouple correctly is basic to
safe operation of combination vehicles. Incorrect coupling
and uncoupling can be very dangerous. General coupling
and uncoupling steps are listed below. There are differences
between different rigs, so learn the details of coupling and
uncoupling the truck(s) you will operate.
All trailers and converter dollies built on or after March 1,
1998, are required to have ABS. However, many trailers and
converter dollies built before this date have been voluntarily
equipped with ABS.
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left
side, either on the front or rear corner. See Figure 6.7. Dollies
manufactured on or after March 1, 1998, are required to have
a lamp on the left side.
In the case of vehicles manufactured before the required date,
it may be difficult to tell if the unit is equipped with ABS. Look
under the vehicle for the ECU and wheel speed sensor wires
coming from the back of the brakes.
BRAKING WITH ABS
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease
or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates
when wheels are about to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance,
but it does help you keep the vehicle under control during
hard braking.
COUPLING TRACTOR-SEMITRAILERS
Step 1: Inspect the Fifth Wheel
●● Check for damaged/missing parts.
●● Check to see that the mounting to the tractor
is secure (no cracks in frame, etc.).
●● Be sure the fifth wheel plate is greased as
required. Failure to keep the fifth wheel plate
lubricated could cause steering problems because
of friction between the tractor and trailer.
●● Check if the fifth wheel is in the
proper position for coupling.
»» Wheel tilted down toward
rear of tractor.
»» Jaws open.
»» Safety unlocking handle in
the automatic lock position.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up. The computer senses
impending lockup, reduces the braking pressure to a safe
level, and you maintain control.
●● If you have a sliding fifth wheel, make sure it is locked.
Having ABS on only the trailer, or even on only one axle, still
gives you more control over the vehicle during braking.
●● Make sure the trailer kingpin and apron
are not bent, cracked or broken.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less likely to
swing out, but if you lose steering control or start a tractor
jackknife, let up on the brakes (if you can safely do so) until
you gain control.
When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with ABS, you
should brake as you always have. In other words:
●● Use only the braking force necessary
to stop safely and stay in control.
●● Brake the same way, regardless of whether you
have ABS on the tractor, the trailer, or both.
●● As you slow down, monitor your tractor
and trailer and back off the brakes (if it
is safe to do so) to stay in control.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still have regular
brakes. Drive normally, but get the system serviced soon.
ABS won’t allow you to drive faster, follow more closely, or
drive less carefully.
Step 2: Inspect Area and Chock Wheels
●● Make sure the area around the vehicle is clear.
●● Be sure trailer wheels are chocked
or spring brakes are on.
●● Check that cargo (if any) is secured against movement
due to the tractor being coupled to the trailer.
Step 3: Position the Tractor
●● Put the tractor directly in front of the trailer. Never
back under the trailer at an angle because you might
push the trailer sideways and break the landing gear.
●● Check position, using outside mirrors, by
looking down both sides of the trailer.
Step 4: Back Slowly
●● Back until the fifth wheel just touches the trailer.
●● Don’t hit the trailer.
Step 5: Secure the Tractor
●● Put on the parking brake.
●● Put transmission in neutral.
page 6:5
Step 6: Check Trailer Height
Step 12: Secure the Vehicle
●● The trailer should be low enough that it is raised slightly
by the tractor when the tractor is backed under it. Raise
or lower the trailer as needed. (If the trailer is too low,
the tractor may strike and damage the nose of the trailer.
If the trailer is too high, it may not couple correctly.)
●● Put the transmission in neutral.
●● Check that the kingpin and fifth wheel are aligned.
Step 7: Connect the Air Lines to the Trailer
●● Check the glad hand seals and connect the tractor
emergency air line to the trailer emergency glad hand.
●● Check the glad hand seals and connect the tractor
service air line to the trailer service glad hand.
●● Make sure the air lines are safely supported
where they won’t be crushed or caught while
the tractor is backing under the trailer.
Step 8: Supply Air to the Trailer
●● Put the parking brakes on.
●● Shut off the engine and take the key
with you so someone else won’t move
the truck while you are under it.
Step 13: Inspect the Coupling
●● Use a flashlight, if necessary.
●● Make sure there is no space between the upper and
lower fifth wheel. If there is space, something is wrong
(the kingpin may be on top of the closed fifth wheel
jaws; the trailer would come loose very easily).
●● Go under the trailer and look into the back of the fifth
wheel. Make sure the fifth wheel jaws have closed
around the shank of the kingpin (see Figure 6-7).
Figure 6-7: Trailer Kingpin
●● From the cab, push in the “air supply” knob
or move the tractor protection valve control
from the “emergency” to the “normal” position
to supply air to the trailer brake system.
●● Wait until the air pressure is normal.
●● Check the brake system for crossed air lines.
»» Shut the engine off so you can hear the brakes.
»» Apply and release the trailer brakes and
listen for the sound of the trailer brakes being
applied and released. You should hear the
brakes move when they are applied and air
escape when the brakes are released.
»» Check the air brake system pressure
gauge for signs of major air loss.
●● When you are sure the trailer brakes
are working, start the engine.
●● Make sure air pressure is up to normal.
Step 9: Lock the Trailer Brakes
●● Pull out the “air supply” knob or move the tractor
protection valve control from “normal” to “emergency.”
Step 10: Back Under the Trailer
●● Use the lowest reverse gear.
●● Back the tractor slowly under the trailer to
avoid hitting the kingpin too hard.
●● Stop when the kingpin is locked into the fifth wheel.
Step 11: Check the Connection for Security
●● Raise the trailer landing gear slightly off the ground.
●● Pull the tractor gently forward while the
trailer brakes are still locked to check that
the trailer is locked onto the tractor.
page 6:6
Shank__
Head__
Kingpin
●● Check that the locking lever is in the “lock” position.
●● Check that the safety latch is in position over
the locking lever. (On some fifth wheels the
catch must be put in place by hand.).
●● If the coupling isn’t right, don’t drive
the coupled unit; get it fixed.
Step 14: Connect the Electrical Cord
and Check the Air Lines
●● Plug the electrical cord into the trailer
and fasten the safety catch.
●● Check both the air lines and the electrical
line for signs of damage.
●● Make sure the air and electrical lines will
not hit any moving parts of the vehicle.
Step 15: Raise the Front Trailer
Supports (Landing Gear)
Step 5: Disconnect the Air Lines
and Electrical Cable
●● Use low gear range (if so equipped) to
begin raising the landing gear. Once free of
weight, switch to the high gear range.
●● Disconnect the air lines from the trailer. Connect
the air line glad hands to the dummy couplers at
the back of the cab or couple them together.
●● Raise the landing gear all the way up. Never
drive with the landing gear only part way up as it
may catch on railroad tracks or other things.
●● Hang the electrical cable with the plug down
to prevent moisture from entering it.
●● After raising the landing gear, secure
the crank handle safely.
●● When the full weight of the trailer
is resting on the tractor:
●● Make sure the lines are supported so they
won’t be damaged while driving the tractor.
Step 6: Unlock the Fifth Wheel
●● Raise the release handle lock.
»» Check for enough clearance between
the rear of the tractor frame and the
landing gear. (When the tractor turns
sharply, it must not hit the landing gear.)
●● Pull the release handle to the “open” position.
»» Check that there is enough clearance
between the top of the tractor tires
and the nose of the trailer.
Step 7: Pull the Tractor Partially
Clear of the Trailer
»» Check for enough clearance between the rear
of tractor and the front of the trailer. The sliding
fifth wheel may need to be repositioned to
avoid the tractor hitting the trailer during turns.
Step 16: Remove Trailer Wheel Chocks
●● Remove and store the wheel chocks in a safe place.
UNCOUPLING THE TRACTOR-SEMITRAILER
●● Keep your legs and feet clear of the rear tractor wheels
to avoid serious injury in case the vehicle moves.
●● Pull the tractor forward until the fifth wheel
comes out from under the trailer.
●● Stop with the tractor frame under the trailer
(prevents the trailer from falling to the ground
if the landing gear should collapse or sink).
Step 8: Secure the Tractor
●● Apply the parking brake.
●● Place the transmission in neutral.
The following steps will help you to uncouple safely:
Step 9: Inspect the Trailer Supports
Step 1: Position the Rig
●● Make sure the ground is supporting the trailer.
●● Make sure the surface of the parking area
can support the weight of the trailer.
●● Have the tractor lined up with the trailer. Pulling
out at an angle can damage the landing gear.
Step 2: Ease Pressure on the Locking Jaws
●● Shut off the trailer air supply to lock the trailer brakes.
●● Ease the pressure on the fifth wheel locking
jaws by backing up gently. This will help you
release the fifth wheel locking lever.
●● Put the parking brakes on while the tractor
is pushing against the kingpin. This will hold
the rig with pressure off the locking jaws.
Step 3: Chock the Trailer Wheels
●● Make sure the landing gear is not damaged.
Step 10: Pull the Tractor Clear of the Trailer
●● Release the parking brakes.
●● Check the area and drive the tractor
forward until it clears.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What might happen if the trailer is too
high when you try to couple?
2. After coupling, how much space should be
between the upper and lower fifth wheel?
3. True or False? You should look into the back of the
fifth wheel to see if it is locked onto the kingpin.
●● Chock the trailer wheels if the trailer doesn’t have
spring brakes or if you’re not sure. The air could leak
out of the trailer air tank, releasing its emergency
brakes. Without chocks, the trailer could move.
4. True or False? To drive, you need to raise the
landing gear only until it just lifts off the pavement.
Step 4: Lower the Landing Gear
5. How do you know if your trailer is
equipped with antilock brakes?
●● If the trailer is empty, lower the landing gear
until it makes firm contact with the ground.
●● If the trailer is loaded, after the landing gear makes firm
contact with the ground, turn the crank in low gear a
few extra turns. This will lift some weight off the tractor.
(Do not lift the trailer off the fifth wheel.) This will:
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Sections 6.3 and 6.4.
»» make it easier to unlatch the fifth wheel;.
»» make it easier to couple the next time.
page 6:7
6.5 Inspecting a Combination Vehicle
Use the seven-step inspection procedure described in Section 2 to inspect your combination vehicle. There are more
things to inspect on a combination vehicle than on a single
vehicle. For example, tires, wheels, lights, reflectors, etc.
However, there are also some new things to check. These
are discussed below.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CHECK DURING
A WALKAROUND INSPECTION
Do these checks in addition to those listed in Section 2, “Step
5: Do Walkaround Inspection.”
Coupling System Areas
●● Check the fifth wheel (lower).
»» Securely mounted to the frame.
»» No missing or damaged parts.
»» Enough grease.
»» No visible space between the
upper and lower fifth wheel.
»» Locking jaws are around the shank, not
the head of the kingpin. See Figure 6-7.
»» Release arm is properly seated and
the safety latch/lock engaged.
●● Fifth wheel (upper).
»» Guide plate is securely mounted to the
trailer frame, not bent, cracked or broken.
»» Kingpin is not damaged.
●● Air and electric lines to the trailer.
»» Electrical cord is firmly plugged in and secured.
»» Air lines are properly connected to
the glad hands, no air leaks, properly
secured with enough slack for turns.
»» All lines are free from damage.
●● Sliding fifth wheel.
»» Slide is not damaged or
has parts missing.
»» Properly greased.
»» All locking pins are present and locked in place.
»» If air powered—there are no air leaks.
»» Check that the fifth wheel is not so far forward
the tractor frame will hit the landing gear, or
the cab will hit the trailer, during turns.
Landing Gear
●● Fully raised, no missing parts,
not bent or otherwise damaged.
●● Crank handle is in place and secured.
●● If power operated, there are no air or hydraulic leaks.
Check that Air Flows to All Trailers. Use the tractor parking
brake and/or chock the wheels to hold the vehicle. Wait for the
air pressure to reach normal, then push in the red “trailer air
supply” knob. This will supply air to the emergency (supply)
lines. Use the trailer handbrake to provide air to the service
line. Go to the rear of the rig. Open the emergency line shutoff valve at the rear of the last trailer. You should hear air
escaping, showing the entire system is charged. Close the
emergency line valve. Open the service line valve to check
that service pressure goes through all the trailers (this test
assumes the trailer handbrake or the service brake pedal is
on), then close the valve. If you do NOT hear air escaping
from both lines, check that the shut-off valves on the trailer(s)
and dolly(s) are in the OPEN position. You MUST have air all
the way to the back for all the brakes to work.
Test the Tractor Protection Valve. Charge the trailer air
brake system. (That is, build up normal air pressure and push
the “air supply” knob in). Shut the engine off. Step on and off
the brake pedal several times to reduce the air pressure in
the tanks. The trailer air supply control (also called the tractor
protection valve control) should pop out (or go from “normal”
to “emergency” position) when the air pressure falls into the
pressure range specified by the manufacturer, usually within
the range of 20 to 45 psi.
If the tractor protection valve doesn’t work right, an air hose
or trailer brake leak could drain all the air from the tractor.
This would cause the emergency brakes to come on, with
possible loss of control.
Test the Trailer Emergency Brakes. Charge the trailer air
brake system and check that the trailer rolls freely. Then stop
and pull out the trailer air supply control (also called the tractor
protection valve control or trailer emergency valve) or place
it in the “emergency” position. Pull gently on the trailer with
the tractor to check that the trailer emergency brakes are on.
Test the Trailer Service Brakes. Check for normal air
pressure, release the parking brakes, move the vehicle
forward slowly and apply the trailer brakes with the hand
control (trolley valve), if so equipped. You should feel the
brakes come on. This tells you the trailer brakes are connected
and working. (The trailer brakes should be tested with the
hand valve, but controlled in normal operation with the foot
pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all wheels.).
Note: Straight truck, passenger bus and combination
vehicle inspection memory aids are located in Section 11.
Test Your Knowledge
1. Which shut-off valves should be open
and which should be closed?
2. How can you test that air flows to all trailers?
COMBINATION VEHICLE BRAKE CHECK
3. How can you test the tractor protection valve?
Do these checks in addition to Section 5.3, Inspecting Air
Brake Systems.
The following section explains how to check air brakes on
combination vehicles. Check the brakes on a double or triple
trailer as you would any combination vehicle.
4. How can you test the trailer emergency brakes?
page 6:8
5. How can you test the trailer service brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 6.5.
Section 7: Doubles and Triples
This section covers:
●● Pulling Double/Triple Trailers
●● Coupling and Uncoupling
●● Inspecting Doubles and Triples
●● Doubles/Triples Air Brake Check
This section has information you need to pass the CDL
knowledge test for driving safely with double and triple
trailers. It tells about how important it is to be very careful
when driving with more than one trailer, how to couple and
uncouple correctly and about inspecting doubles and triples
carefully. (You should also study Sections 2, 5 and 6.)
7.1 Pulling Double/Triple Trailers
Take special care when pulling two and three trailers. There
are more things that can go wrong and doubles/triples are
less stable than other commercial vehicles. Some areas of
concern are discussed below.
PREVENT TRAILERS FROM ROLLING OVER
To prevent trailers from rolling over, you must steer gently and
go slowly around corners, on-ramps, off-ramps and curves.
A safe speed on a curve for a straight truck or a single trailer
combination vehicle may be too fast for double or triple trailers.
BEWARE OF THE CRACK-THE-WHIP EFFECT
Doubles and triples are more likely to turn over than other
combination vehicles because of the “crack-the-whip” effect.
You must steer gently when pulling trailers. The last trailer in a
combination is most likely to turn over. If you don’t understand
the crack-the-whip effect, study section 6.1 and review Figure
6-1 in the Combination Vehicles section of this manual.
PARKING THE VEHICLE
Make sure you do not get in a spot you cannot pull straight
through. You need to be aware of how parking lots are
arranged in order to avoid a long and difficult escape.
ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS
ON CONVERTER DOLLIES
Converter dollies built on or after March 1, 1998, are required
to have antilock brakes. These dollies will have a yellow lamp
on the left side of the dolly.
7.2 Coupling and Uncoupling
Knowing how to couple and uncouple correctly is basic to
safe operation of doubles and triples. Incorrect coupling and
uncoupling can be very dangerous. Coupling and uncoupling
steps for doubles and triples are listed below.
COUPLING TWIN TRAILERS
Secure the Second (Rear) Trailer
●● If the second trailer doesn’t have spring brakes,
drive the tractor close to the trailer, connect the
emergency line, charge the trailer air tank and
disconnect the emergency line. This will set the
trailer emergency brakes (if the slack adjusters
are correctly adjusted). Chock the wheels
if you have any doubt about the brakes.
Caution: For the safest handling on the road, the
more heavily loaded semi-trailer should be in the first
position behind the tractor. The lighter trailer should
be in the rear.
INSPECT COMPLETELY
There are more critical parts to check when you have two
or three trailers. Check them all. Follow the procedures
described later in this section.
LOOK FAR AHEAD
Doubles and triples must be driven very smoothly to avoid
rollover or jackknife. Therefore, look far ahead so you can
slow down or change lanes gradually when necessary.
MANAGE SPACE
Doubles and triples take up more space than other commercial
vehicles. They are not only longer, but also need more space
because they can’t be turned or stopped suddenly. Allow more
following distance. Make sure you have large enough gaps
before entering or crossing traffic. Before changing lanes,
be certain the lane is open, signal, check traffic and avoid
sudden turning movements.
ADVERSE CONDITIONS
Be more careful in adverse conditions. In bad weather,
slippery conditions and mountain driving, you must be
especially careful if you drive double and triple bottoms. You
will have greater length and more dead axles to pull with your
drive axles than other vehicles. There is more chance for skids
and loss of traction.
Couple the Tractor and First
Semi-trailer as Described Earlier
A converter gear or dolly is a coupling device of one or two
axles and a fifth wheel by which a semi-trailer can be coupled
to the rear of a tractor-trailer combination forming a double
bottom rig.
Position the Converter Dolly in
Front of the Second (Rear) Trailer
●● Release the dolly brakes by opening the air
tank petcock. (Or, if the dolly has spring brakes,
use the dolly parking brake control.).
●● If the distance is not too great, roll the wheel dolly
into position by hand so it is in line with the kingpin.
●● Or, use the tractor and first semi-trailer
to pick up the converter dolly:
»» Position the combination as close
as possible to the converter dolly.
»» Move the dolly to the rear of the first
semi-trailer and couple it to the trailer.
»» Lock the pintle hook.
»» Secure the dolly support
in the raised position.
page 7:1
»» Pull the dolly into position
as close as possible to the
nose of the second semi-trailer.
●● Disconnect all the dolly air and electric
lines and secure them.
»» Lower the dolly support.
●● Release the converter dolly fifth wheel latch.
»» Unhook the dolly from the first trailer.
»» Wheel the dolly into position in front of the
second trailer in line with the kingpin.
●● Release the dolly brakes.
●● Slowly pull the tractor, first semi-trailer and dolly forward
to pull the dolly out from under the rear semi-trailer.
Uncouple the Converter Dolly
Connect the Converter Dolly
to the Front Trailer
●● Back the first semi-trailer into position
in front of the dolly tongue.
●● Hook the dolly to the front trailer.
»» Lock the pintle hook.
»» Secure the converter gear support
in the raised position.
Connect the Converter Dolly
to the Rear Trailer
●● Make sure the trailer brakes are locked
and/or the wheels are chocked.
●● Make sure the trailer height is correct. (It must be
slightly lower than the center of the fifth wheel, so the
trailer is raised slightly when the dolly is pushed under.).
●● Back the converter dolly under the rear trailer.
●● Raise the landing gear slightly off the ground
to prevent damage if the trailer moves.
●● Test the coupling by pulling against the
pin of the second semi-trailer.
●● Make a visual check of the coupling. (There should
be no space between the upper and lower fifth wheel.
The locking jaws should be closed on the kingpin.).
●● Connect the safety chains, air hoses and light cords.
●● Close the converter dolly air tank petcock.
●● Close the shut-off valves at the rear of the second
trailer (service and emergency shut-offs).
●● Open the shut-off valves at the rear of the first
trailer (and on the dolly, if so equipped).
●● Raise the landing gear completely.
●● Charge the trailers (push the “air supply” knob in) and
check for air at the rear of the second trailer by opening
the emergency line shut-off. If air pressure isn’t there,
something is wrong and the brakes won’t work.
UNCOUPLING TWIN TRAILERS
Uncouple the Rear Trailer
●● Park the rig in a straight line on firm level ground.
●● Apply the parking brakes so the rig won’t move.
●● Chock the wheels of the second trailer
if it doesn’t have spring brakes.
●● Lower the landing gear of the second semi-trailer
enough to remove some weight from the dolly.
●● Close the air shut-offs at the rear of the first
semi-trailer (and on the dolly, if so equipped).
page 7:2
●● Lower the dolly landing gear.
●● Disconnect the safety chains.
●● Apply the converter gear spring
brakes or chock the wheels.
●● Release the pintle hook on the first semi-trailer.
●● Slowly pull clear of the dolly.
Caution: Never unlock the pintle hook with the dolly
still under the rear trailer. The dolly tow bar may fly up,
possibly causing injury and making it very difficult to
re-couple.
COUPLING AND UNCOUPLING TRIPLE TRAILERS
Couple the Second and Third Trailers
●● Couple the second and third trailers using
the method for coupling doubles.
●● Uncouple the tractor and pull away from
the second and third trailers.
Couple the Tractor/First Semi-trailer
to the Second/Third Trailers
●● Couple the tractor to the first trailer. Use the method
already described for coupling tractor-semitrailers.
●● Move the converter dolly into position and couple the
first trailer to the second trailer using the method for
coupling doubles. The triples rig is now complete.
Uncouple the Triple-Trailer Rig
●● Uncouple the third trailer by pulling the
dolly out, then unhitching the dolly using
the method for uncoupling doubles.
●● Uncouple the remainder of the rig as you would any
double-bottom rig using the method already described.
COUPLING AND UNCOUPLING
OTHER COMBINATIONS
The methods described so far apply to the more common
tractor-trailer combinations. However, there are other ways of
coupling and uncoupling the many types of truck-trailer and
tractor-trailer combinations that are in use. There are too many
to cover in this manual. You need to learn the correct way to
couple and uncouple the vehicle(s) you will drive according
to the manufacturer and/or owner specifications.
7.3 Inspecting Doubles and Triples
Use the seven-step inspection procedure described in Section
2 to inspect your combination vehicle. There are more things
to inspect on a combination vehicle than on a single vehicle.
Many of these items are simply more of what you would
find on a single vehicle. (For example, tires, wheels, lights,
reflectors, etc.) However, there are also some new things to
check. These are discussed below.
Double and Triple Trailers
●● Shut-off valves (at the rear of trailers,
in the service and emergency lines):
»» Rear of front trailers: OPEN.
»» Rear of last trailer: CLOSED.
»» Converter dolly air tank drain valve: CLOSED.
●● Be sure the air lines are supported and
the glad hands are properly connected.
ADDITIONAL CHECKS
●● If the spare tire is carried on the converter
gear (dolly), make sure it is secured.
Complete these checks in addition to those already listed in
Section 2, Step 5: Do Walkaround Inspection.
●● Be sure the pintle-eye of the dolly is in
place in the pintle hook of the trailer(s).
Coupling System Areas
●● Make sure the pintle hook is latched.
●● Check the fifth wheel (lower).
●● Safety chains should be secured to the trailer(s).
»» Securely mounted to the frame.
»» No missing or damaged parts.
»» Enough grease.
●● Be sure light cords are firmly in the sockets on trailers.
Do these checks in addition to Section 5.3:
“Inspecting Air Brake Systems”
»» No visible space between the
upper and lower fifth wheel.
»» Locking jaws are around the shank,
not the head of kingpin.
»» Release arm is properly seated and
the safety latch/lock is engaged.
●● Fifth wheel (upper).
»» Glide plate is securely mounted to the
trailer frame, not bent, cracked or broken.
»» Kingpin is not damaged.
●● Air and electric lines to the trailer.
»» Electrical cord is firmly plugged
in and is secured.
»» Air lines are properly connected to
the glad hands, no air leaks, properly
secured with enough slack for turns.
»» All lines are free from damage.
●● Sliding fifth wheel.
»» Slide is not damaged nor
has parts missing.
»» Properly greased.
»» All locking pins are present
and are locked in place.
»» If air powered, there are no air leaks.
»» Check that fifth wheel is not so far forward
the tractor frame will hit the landing gear
or the cab will hit the trailer during turns.
Landing Gear
●● Fully raised, there are no missing parts,
it is not bent or otherwise damaged.
●● Crank handle is in place and secured.
●● If power operated, there are no air or hydraulic leaks.
7.4 Doubles/Triples Air Brake Check
Check the brakes on a double or triple trailer as you would
any combination vehicle. Section 6.2 explains how to check
air brakes on combination vehicles. You must also make the
following checks on your double or triple trailers:
CHECK THAT AIR FLOWS TO ALL TRAILERS
(DOUBLE AND TRIPLE TRAILERS)
Use the tractor parking brake and/or chock the wheels to
hold the vehicle. Wait for air pressure to reach normal, then
push in the red “trailer air supply” knob. This will supply air
to the emergency (supply) lines. Use the trailer handbrake to
provide air to the service line. Go to the rear of the rig. Open
the emergency line shut-off valve at the rear of the last trailer.
You should hear air escaping, showing the entire system is
charged. Close the emergency line valve. Open the service
line valve to check that service pressure goes through all
the trailers (this test assumes that the trailer handbrake or
the service brake pedal is on), then close the valve. If you
do NOT hear air escaping from both lines, check that the
shut-off valves on the trailer(s) and dolly(s) are in the OPEN
position. You MUST have air all the way to the back for all
the brakes to work.
TEST THE TRACTOR PROTECTION VALVE
Charge the trailer air brake system. (That is, build up normal
air pressure and push the “air supply” knob in.) Shut the engine
off. Step on and off the brake pedal several times to reduce
the air pressure in the tanks. The trailer air supply control
(also called the tractor protection valve control) should pop
out (or go from the “normal” to “emergency” position) when
the air pressure falls into the pressure range specified by the
manufacturer, usually within the range of 20 to 45 psi.
If the tractor protection valve doesn’t work properly, an air
hose or trailer brake leak could drain all the air from the
tractor. This would cause the emergency brakes to come on,
with possible loss of control.
page 7:3
TEST TRAILER EMERGENCY BRAKES
Charge the trailer air brake system and check that the trailer
rolls freely. Then stop and pull out the trailer air supply
control (also called tractor protection valve control or trailer
emergency valve) or place it in the “emergency” position. Pull
gently on the trailer with the tractor to check that the trailer
emergency brakes are on.
TEST TRAILER SERVICE BRAKES
Check for normal air pressure, release the parking brakes,
move the vehicle forward slowly and apply trailer brakes with
the hand control (trolley valve), if so equipped. You should
feel the brakes come on. This tells you the trailer brakes are
connected and working. The trailer brakes should be tested
with the hand valve, but controlled in normal operation with the
foot pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all wheels.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What is a converter dolly?
2. Do converter dollies have spring brakes?
3. What three methods can you use to secure
a second trailer before coupling?
4. How do you check to make sure trailer
height is correct before coupling?
5. What do you check when making
a visual check of coupling?
6. Why should you pull a dolly out from under a trailer
before you disconnect it from the trailer in front?
7. What should you check for when inspecting
the converter dolly? The pintle hook?
8. Should the shut-off valves on the rear of the
last trailer be open or closed? On the first
trailer in a set of doubles? On the
middle trailer of a set of triples?
9. How can you test that air flows to all trailers?
10.How do you know if your converter dolly
is equipped with antilock brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you are unable
to answer them all, re-read Section 7.
page 7:4
Section 8: Tank Vehicles
This section covers:
●● Inspecting Tank Vehicles
●● Driving Tank Vehicles
●● Safe Driving Rules
This section has information needed to pass the CDL
knowledge test for driving a tank vehicle. (You should
also study Sections 2, 5, 6 and 9). A tank endorsement is
required for certain vehicles that transport liquids or gases.
The liquid or gas does not have to be a hazardous material.
A tank endorsement is required if your vehicle needs a Class
A or B CDL and you want to haul a liquid or liquid gas in a
permanently mounted cargo tank rated at greater than 450
liters (119 gallons) or a portable tank rated at greater than
1,000 gallons. A tank endorsement is also required for Class
C vehicles when the vehicle is used to transport hazardous
materials in liquid or gas form in the above described rated tanks.
Before loading, unloading or driving a tanker, inspect the
vehicle. This makes sure that the vehicle is safe to carry the
liquid or gas and is safe to drive.
8.1 Inspecting Tank Vehicles
Tank vehicles have special items that you need to check. Tank
vehicles come in many types and sizes. You need to check
the vehicle’s operator manual to make sure you know how to
inspect your tank vehicle.
LEAKS
On all tank vehicles, the most important item to check for
is leaks. Check under and around the vehicle for signs of any
leaking. Do not carry liquids or gases in a leaking tank. To
do so is a crime. You will be cited and prevented from driving
further. You may also be liable for the clean up of any spill.
In general, check the following:
●● The tank’s body or shell for dents or leaks.
●● The intake, discharge and cut-off valves. Make
sure the valves are in the correct position before
loading, unloading or moving the vehicle.
●● Pipes, connections and hoses for
leaks, especially around joints.
●● Manhole covers and vents. Make sure the covers
have gaskets and they close correctly. Keep
the vents clear so they work correctly.
CHECK SPECIAL PURPOSE EQUIPMENT
If your vehicle has any of the following equipment, make sure
it works:
8.2 Driving Tank Vehicles
Hauling liquids in tanks requires special skills because of the
high center of gravity and liquid movement.
HIGH CENTER OF GRAVITY
High center of gravity means that much of the load’s weight is
carried high up off the road. This makes the vehicle top-heavy
and easy to roll over. Liquid tankers are especially easy to roll
over. Tests have shown that tankers can turn over at the speed
limits posted for curves. Take highway curves and on-ramp/
off-ramp curves well below the posted speeds.
DANGER OF SURGE
Liquid surge results from movement of the liquid in partially
filled tanks. This movement can have adverse effects on
handling. For example, when coming to a stop, the liquid will
surge back and forth. When the wave hits the end of the tank,
it tends to push the truck in the direction the wave is moving.
If the truck is on a slippery surface such as ice, the wave can
shove a stopped truck out into an intersection. The driver of
a liquid tanker must be very familiar with the handling of the
vehicle.
BULKHEADS
Some liquid tanks are divided into several smaller tanks by
bulkheads. When loading and unloading the smaller tanks, the
driver must pay attention to weight distribution. Do not put too
much weight on the front or rear of the vehicle.
BAFFLED TANKS
Baffled liquid tanks have bulkheads in them with holes that let
the liquid flow through. The baffles help to control the forward
and backward liquid surge. However, side-to-side surge can
still occur. This can cause a roll over.
UN-BAFFLED TANKS
Un-baffled liquid tankers (sometimes called “smooth bore”
tanks) have nothing inside to slow down the flow of the liquid.
Therefore, forward-and-back surge is very strong. Un-baffled
tanks are usually those that transport food products (milk,
for example). Sanitation regulations forbid the use of baffles
because of the difficulty in cleaning the inside of the tank. Be
extremely cautious (slow and careful) in driving smooth bore
tanks, especially when starting and stopping.
.
●● Vapor recovery kits.
●● Grounding and bonding cables
●● Emergency shut-off systems.
●● Built in fire extinguisher.
Never drive a tank vehicle with open valves or manhole covers.
Make sure you know how to operate your special equipment.
Check the emergency equipment required for your vehicle.
Find out what equipment you are required to carry, make sure
you have it and that it works.
OUTAGE
Never load a cargo tank totally full. Liquids expand as they
warm and you must leave room for the expanding liquid. This
is called “outage” Since different liquids expand by different
amounts, they require different amounts of outage. You must
know the outage requirement when hauling liquids in bulk.
page 8:1
HOW MUCH TO LOAD?
A full tank of dense liquid (such as some acids) may exceed
legal weight limits. For that reason, you may often only partially
fill tanks with heavy liquids. The amount of liquid to load into
a tank depends on:
●● The amount the liquid will expand in transit.
●● The weight of the liquid.
●● Legal weight limits.
8.3 Safe Driving Rules
In order to drive tank vehicles safely, you must remember
to follow all the safe driving rules. A few of these rules are:
DRIVE SMOOTHLY
Because of the high center of gravity and the surge of the
liquid, you must start, slow down and stop very smoothly. Also,
make smooth turns and lane changes.
CONTROLLING SURGE
Keep a steady pressure on the brakes. Do not release too
soon when coming to a stop.
Brake far in advance of a stop and increase your following
distance.
If you must make a quick stop to avoid a crash, use controlled
or stab braking. If you do not remember how to stop using
these methods, review Section 2.13. Also, remember if you
steer quickly while braking, your vehicle may roll over.
CURVES
Slow down before curves, then accelerate slightly through
the curve. The posted speed for a curve may be too fast for
a tank vehicle.
He has the right turn indicator on and gears down to around
40 mph as he enters the off-ramp traffic. He brakes slightly
and is already eyeing the traffic stream he will be entering,
which is proceeding under the freeway. The ramp traffic is
slowing. He drops to a lower gear and applies a little more
braking. He feels the right side of the rig start to “float.” Then
he remembers he has two empty middle compartments and
two half-full ones, No. 1 and No. 4. If he steers left to correct,
he will jump the curb right into the underpass traffic. If he
brakes sharply and stays in the ramp traffic, the leftward
shifting of his load could be accentuated and eventually
overturn the tank.
There is no textbook solution, only time and whatever action
the driver takes in hopes the load shifting will be overcome
by the weight of the tractor and trailer as rig speed is reduced.
BE CAREFUL WITH PARTIAL LOADS
Even though full or empty runs occur much more frequently
than partial loads, there is and will continue to be, need for
partial loads. The special handling requires full awareness
at all times of the changes in vehicle characteristics that can
only be accomplished by lower speed, more careful braking,
load distribution and direction changes.
SLOW BEFORE TURNS
If you are already in the turn, it may be too late to slow down
safely. Therefore, the best solution is to be especially watchful
and slow down before entering the turn.
STOPPING DISTANCE
Keep in mind how much space you need to stop your vehicle.
Remember that wet roads double the normal stopping
distance. Empty tank vehicles may take longer to stop than
full ones.
SKIDS
SHIFTING CARGO A PROBLEM
WITH PARTIAL LOADS
Tank drivers say that liquid cargo shifting is a problem with
“anything other than full or empty.” This condition occurs
when the driver makes sudden lane changes, takes evasive
action and on long downward curves. A prime location for this
condition to develop is at freeway exit and entrance ramps.
EXIT RAMPS ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS
Do not over steer, over accelerate or over brake. If you do,
your vehicle may skid. On tank trailers, if your drive wheels or
trailer wheels begin to skid, your vehicle may jackknife. When
any vehicle starts to skid, you must take action to restore
traction to the wheels.
Test Your Knowledge
1. How are bulkheads different than baffles?
2. Should a tank vehicle take curves, on-ramps
or off-ramps at the posted speed limits?
3. How are smooth bore tankers different
to drive than those with baffles?
4. What three things determine how
much liquid you can load?
5. What is outage?
6. How can you help control surge?
7. What two reasons make special care
necessary when driving tank vehicles?
Here is an example of how an accident can begin. A driver is
making a right turn off a freeway onto a 25-mph ramp from
the right lane and is watching the traffic ahead and behind.
page 8:2
These questions may be on your test. If you are
unable to answer them all, re-read Section 8.
PART THREE
11. Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Test
Note: Part 11.3 School Bus is in Volume 2.
12. Basic Vehicle Control Skills Test
13. On Road Driving Test
This part is for drivers who
need to take a skills test.
Section 11: Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection Test
This section covers:
CAB CHECK/ENGINE START
●● Internal Inspection
Safe Start
●● External Inspection
During the pre-trip inspection, you must show that the vehicle
is safe to drive. You will need to walk around the vehicle and
point to or touch each item and explain to the examiner what
you are checking and why. You will NOT have to crawl under
the vehicle. Opening the hood is the driver’s option.
●● Depress clutch
●● Place gearshift lever in neutral (or park,
for automatic transmissions).
●● Start engine, then release clutch slowly.
Oil Pressure Gauge
●● Make sure oil pressure gauge is working.
11.1 All Vehicles
Study the following vehicle parts for the type of vehicle you
will be using during the CDL skills tests. You should be able to
identify each part and tell the examiner what you are looking
for or inspecting.
ENGINE COMPARTMENT (ENGINE OFF)
Leaks/Hoses
●● Look for puddles on the ground.
●● Look for dripping fluids on underside
of engine and transmission.
●● Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.
Oil Level
●● Indicate where dipstick is located.
●● Check oil level to make sure it is within safe
operating range. Level must be above refill mark.
●● Check that oil pressure gauge
shows increasing or normal oil pressure
or that the warning light goes off.
●● If equipped, oil temperature gauge should begin
a gradual rise to the normal operating range.
Temperature Gauge
●● Make sure the temperature gauge is working.
●● Temperature should begin to climb to the normal
operating range or temperature light should be off.
Air/Vacuum Gauge
●● Check for proper operation of and acceptable readings
on air and/or vacuum gauge(s). See Air Brake Check.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
●● Check gauges to make sure they show the alternator
and/or generator is charging or that warning light is off.
WISCONSIN
Coolant Level
Speedometer
●● Inspect reservoir sight glass, or.
●● Drive the vehicle 5 mph and confirm the
speedometer functions properly.
●● (If engine is not hot), remove radiator cap
and check for visible coolant level.
Power Steering Fluid
●● Indicate where power steering fluid dipstick is located.
●● Check for adequate power steering fluid
level. Level must be above refill mark.
Engine Compartment Belts
●● Check the following belts for snugness (up to
3/4 inch play at center of belt), cracks or frays.
»» Power steering belt.
»» Water pump belt.
Mirrors and Windshield
●● Mirrors should be clean and adjusted
properly from the inside.
●● Windshield should be clean with no illegal
stickers, obstructions or damage to the glass.
Emergency Equipment
●● Check for spare electrical fuses.
●● Check for three red reflective triangles, 6
fusees or 3 liquid burning flares.
●● Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
»» Alternator belt.
»» Air compressor belt.
Note: If any of the components listed above
are not belt driven, you must:.
»» Tell the examiner which component(s)
are not belt driven.
»» Make sure component(s) are operating
properly, are not damaged or leaking
and are mounted securely.
Note: If the vehicle is not equipped with electrical fuses,
you must mention this to the examiner.
Steering Play
●● Non-power steering: Check for excessive
play by turning steering wheel back and
forth. Play should not exceed 10 degrees (or
about two inches on a 20-inch wheel).
●● Power steering: With the engine running,
check for excessive play by turning the steering
wheel back and forth. Play should not exceed
10 degrees (or about two inches on a 20-inch
wheel) before front left wheel barely moves.
page 11:1
Wipers/Washers
●● Check that wiper arms and blades are secure,
not damaged and operate smoothly.
●● If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.
Lights/Reflectors/Reflector Tape Condition (Sides and Rear)
●● Test that dash indicators work when
corresponding lights are turned on:
»» Left turn signal.
»» Right turn signal.
»» Four-way emergency flashers.
»» High beam headlight.
»» Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) indicator.
●● Check that all external lights and reflective
equipment are clean and functional. Light
and reflector checks include:
»» Clearance lights (red on rear, amber elsewhere).
»» Headlights (high and low beams).
»» Taillights.
»» Backing lights.
»» Turn signals.
»» Four-way flashers.
Air brake safety devices vary. However, this procedure is
designed to make sure any safety device operates correctly
as air pressure drops from normal to a low-air condition. For
safety purposes, in areas where an incline is present, you
will use wheel chocks during the air brake check. The proper
procedures for inspecting the air brake system are as follows:
Test Air Leakage Rate (Static check). With a fullycharged air system (typically 120 psi), turn off the engine,
chock the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake button
(all vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination
vehicles) and time the air pressure drop. After the initial
pressure drop, the loss rate should be no more than 2 psi in
one minute for single vehicles and no more than 3 psi in one
minute for combination vehicles.
(L) - LEAKS
Test Air Brake System for Leaks. With parking brake,
(all vehicles) and trailer air supply button (for combination
vehicles) released (pushed in), apply firm pressure to the
service brake pedal. Watch the air supply gauge and listen for
leaks. After the initial pressure drop, the loss rate for single
vehicles should be no more than 3 psi in one minute and no
more than 4 psi in one minute for combination vehicles. If
the air loss rate exceeds these figures, have the air system
repaired before operating.
»» Brake lights.
»» Red reflectors (on rear) and amber
reflectors (elsewhere).
»» Reflector tape condition.
Note: Checks of brake, turn signal and four-way flasher
functions must be done separately. You may ask the
examiner for help checking lights.
Horn
●● Check that air horn and/or electric horn work.
Heater/Defroster
●● Test that the heater and defroster work.
Parking Brake Check
●● Apply parking brake only and make sure it
will hold the vehicle by shifting into a lower
gear and gently pulling against the brake.
Hydraulic Brake Check
●● With the engine running, apply firm pressure to the
brake pedal and hold for five seconds. The brake pedal
should not move (depress) during the five seconds.
●● If equipped with a hydraulic brake reserve (back-up)
system, with the key off, depress the brake pedal and
listen for the sound of the reserve system electric motor.
●● Make sure the warning buzzer or light is off.
●● Check the service (foot) brake operation. Move
the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 mph) and apply
the brakes firmly. Note any vehicle “pulling” to one
side or unusual feel or delayed stopping action.
Air Brake Check (air brake equipped vehicles only)
Failure to perform all three components of the air brake check
correctly will result in an automatic failure of the Vehicle Pre
trip Inspection Test.
page 11:2
(A) - ALARM
Test Low Pressure Warning Alarm and/or Signal. Turn the
key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release the service
brake pedal to reduce air tank pressure. The low air pressure
warning signal must come on before the pressure drops to
less than 60 psi in the air tank.
If the warning alarm/signal doesn’t work, you could be losing
air pressure without knowing it. This could cause the spring
brakes to activate suddenly. Only limited braking can be done
before the spring brakes come on.
(B) - BUTTON(S)
Check That the Spring Brakes Come on Automatically. Continue to rapidly apply and release the service brake pedal
to further reduce air tank pressure. The trailer air supply button
(if it is a combination vehicle) and parking brake button should
pop out when the air pressure falls to the manufacturer’s
specification (usually between 20 to 40 psi). This causes the
spring brakes to come on.
Check Rate of Air Pressure Buildup. When the engine
is operating at 1800 RPM, the pressure should build from
85 to 100 psi within 45 seconds in dual air systems. (If the
vehicle has larger than minimum air tanks, the buildup time
can be longer and still be safe. Check the manufacturer’s
specifications.).
If air pressure does not build up fast enough, your pressure
may drop too low during driving, requiring an emergency stop.
Don’t drive until you get the problem fixed.
Test Service Brakes. Wait for normal air pressure, release
the parking brake and trailer air supply button (for combination
vehicles), move the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 mph) and
apply the brakes firmly using the brake pedal. Note any vehicle
“pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed stopping action.
This test may show you problems which you otherwise
wouldn’t know about until you needed the brakes on the road.
Note: The driver must locate and identify all air, brake
components, perform the LAB (leaks, alarm and
button(s) correctly and check the service (foot) brake
operation to pass the pre-trip inspection.
Safety Belt
●● Make sure the safety belt is securely mounted,
adjusts, latches properly and is not ripped or frayed.
11.2 External Inspection
(Passenger Bus/Truck/Tractor)
STEERING
Steering Box/Hoses
●● Check that the steering box is securely mounted and not
leaking. Look for any missing nuts, bolts and cotter keys.
●● Check for power steering fluid leaks or
damage to power steering hoses.
Steering Linkage
●● See that connecting links, arms and rods from the
steering box to the wheel are not worn or cracked.
●● Check that joints and sockets are not worn or loose and
that there are no missing nuts, bolts or cotter keys.
●● For manual slack adjustors, the brake pushrod
should not move more than one inch (with the
brakes released) when pulled by hand.
Brake Chambers
●● See that brake chambers are not leaking, cracked
or dented and are mounted securely.
Brake Hoses/Lines
●● Look for cracked, worn or leaking
hoses, lines and couplings.
Drum Brake or Rotor
●● Check for cracks, dents or holes.
Also check for loose or missing bolts.
●● Check for contaminates such as debris, oil or grease.
●● Brake linings or pads (where visible)
should not be worn dangerously thin.
Brake Linings
●● On some brake drums, there are openings
where the brake linings can be seen from outside
the drum. For this type of drum, check that a
visible amount of brake lining is showing.
Note: Be prepared to per form the same brake
components inspection on every axle (power unit and
trailer, if equipped).
SUSPENSION
Springs/Air/Torque
●● Look for missing, shifted, cracked or broken leaf springs.
●● Look for broken or distorted coil springs.
●● If the vehicle is equipped with torsion bars, torque arms
or other types of suspension components, check that
they are not damaged and are mounted securely.
●● Air ride suspension should be checked
for damage and leaks.
Mounts
●● Look for cracked or broken spring hangers, missing
or damaged bushings and broken, loose or missing
bolts, U-bolts or other axle mounting parts. (The
mounts should be checked at each point where
they are secured to the vehicle frame and axle(s).
This includes mounts used for air ride systems.
Shock Absorbers
●● See that shock absorbers are secure
and that there are no leaks.
Note: Be prepared to perform the same suspension
components inspection on every axle (power unit and
trailer, if equipped).
BRAKES
Slack Adjustors and Pushrods
●● Look for broken, loose or missing parts.
●● The angle between the push rod and adjustor
arm should be a little over 90 degrees when
the brakes are released and not less than 90
degrees when the brakes are applied.
WHEELS
Rims
●● Check for damaged or bent rims.
Rims cannot have welding repairs.
Tires
●● The following items must be inspected on every tire:
»» Tread depth: Check for minimum
tread depth (4/32 on steering axle
tires, 2/32 on all other tires).
»» Tire condition: Check that tread is evenly
worn and look for cuts or other damage to tread
or sidewalls. Also, make sure valve caps and
stems are not missing, broken or damaged.
»» Tire inflation: Check for proper
inflation by using a tire gauge.
Hub Oil Seals/Axle Seals
●● See that hub oil/grease seals and axle
seals are not leaking and, if wheel has
a sight glass, oil level is adequate.
Lug Nuts
●● Check that all lug nuts are present, free
of cracks and distortions and show no signs of
looseness such as rust trails or shiny threads.
●● Make sure all bolt holes are not cracked or distorted.
Spacers or Bud Spacing
●● If equipped, check that spacers are not
bent, damaged or rusted through.
●● Spacers should be evenly centered, with the
dual wheels and tires evenly separated.
page 11:3
Note: Be prepared to per form the same wheel
inspection on every axle (power unit and trailer,
if equipped).
SIDE OF VEHICLE
Door(s)/Mirror(s)
●● Check that door(s) are not damaged and that
they open and close properly from the outside.
●● Hinges should be secure with seals intact.
●● Check that mirror(s) and mirror brackets
are not damaged and are mounted
securely with no loose fittings.
Fuel Tank
●● Check that tank(s) are secure, cap(s) are tight
and there are no leaks from tank(s) or lines.
Battery/Box
●● Wherever located, see that battery(s) are secure,
connections are tight and cell caps are present.
●● Battery connections should not show
signs of excessive corrosion.
●● Battery box and cover or door must be secure.
Drive Shaft
●● See that drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
●● Couplings should be secure and free of foreign objects.
Exhaust System
●● Check system for damage and signs
of leaks such as rust or carbon soot.
●● System should be connected tightly
and mounted securely.
Frame
●● Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or
other damage to the longitudinal frame
members, cross members, box and floor.
REAR OF VEHICLE
Splash Guards
●● If equipped, check that splash guards or mud flaps
are not damaged and are mounted securely.
Doors/Ties/Lifts
●● Check that doors and hinges are not
damaged and that they open, close and latch
properly from the outside, if equipped.
●● Ties, straps, chains and binders must also be secure.
Catwalk
●● Make sure the catwalk is solid, clear of objects
and securely bolted to tractor frame.
Mounting Bolts
●● Look for loose or missing mounting brackets,
clamps, bolts or nuts. Both the fifth wheel and
the slide mounting must be solidly attached.
●● On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball
hitch, pintle hook, tow bars, tow bar eye, etc.),
inspect all coupling components and mounting
brackets for missing or broken parts.
Hitch Release Lever
●● Check that the hitch release lever is in place and secure.
Locking Jaws
●● Look into fifth wheel gap and check that locking
jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.
●● On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch,
pintle hook, etc.), inspect the locking mechanism for
missing or broken parts and make sure it is locked
securely. If present, safety cables or chains must
be secure and free of kinks and excessive slack.
5th Wheel Skid Plate
●● Check for proper lubrication and that 5th wheel skid
plate is securely mounted to the platform and that
all bolts and pins are secure and not missing.
Platform (fifth wheel)
●● Check for cracks or breaks in the platform structure
which supports the fifth wheel skid plate.
Release Arm (fifth wheel)
●● If equipped, make sure the release arm is in the
engaged position and the safety latch is in place.
Kingpin/Apron/Gap
●● Check that the kingpin is not bent.
●● Make sure the visible part of the apron
is not bent, cracked or broken.
●● Check that the trailer is laying flat on
the fifth wheel skid plate (no gap).
Locking Pins (fifth wheel)
●● If equipped, look for loose or missing pins
in the slide mechanism of the sliding fifth
wheel. If air powered, check for leaks.
●● Make sure locking pins are fully engaged.
●● Check that the fifth wheel is positioned properly
so the tractor frame will clear the landing gear and
the tractor will not strike the trailer during turns.
●● If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking,
damaged or missing parts and explain how
it should be checked for correct operation.
Sliding Pintle
●● Check that the sliding pintle is secured with no loose
or missing nuts or bolts and cotter pin is in place.
●● Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.
Tongue or Draw-bar
●● Check that the tongue/draw-bar is not bent or twisted
and checks for broken welds and stress cracks.
●● Check that the tongue/draw-bar is not worn excessively.
TRACTOR/COUPLING
Air/Electric Lines
●● Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and
electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced or
worn (steel braid should not show through).
●● Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled,
pinched or dragging against tractor parts.
page 11:4
Tongue Storage Area
●● Check that the storage area is solid
and secured to the tongue.
●● Check that cargo in the storage area
i.e. chains, binders, etc., is secure.
11.3 External Inspection
(School Bus) Please see Volume 2.
11.5 Coach/Transit Bus
11.4 Trailer
●● Check that hand rails are secure and, if
equipped, the step light(s) are working.
Air/Electrical Connections
●● Check that trailer air connectors are
sealed and in good condition.
●● Make sure glad hands are locked in
place, free of damage or air leaks.
●● Make sure the trailer electrical plug is
firmly seated and locked in place.
Header Board.
●● If equipped, check the header board to
see that it is secure, free of damage and
strong enough to contain cargo.
●● If equipped, the canvas or tarp carrier must
be mounted and fastened securely.
●● On enclosed trailers, check the front area for signs
of damage such as cracks, bulges or holes.
SIDE OF TRAILER
Landing Gear.
●● Check that the landing gear is fully raised, has
no missing parts, crank handle is secure
and the support frame is not damaged.
●● If power operated, check for air or hydraulic leaks.
Doors/Ties/Lifts.
●● If equipped, check that doors are not
damaged. Check that doors open, close
and latch properly from the outside.
●● Check that ties, straps, chains and binders are secure.
●● If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking,
damaged or missing parts and explain how it
should be checked for correct operation.
●● Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.
Frame.
●● Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage
to the frame, cross members, box and floor.
Tandem Release Arm/Locking Pins.
●● If equipped, make sure the locking pins are
locked in place and release arm is secured.
REMAINDER OF TRAILER
Remainder of Trailer.
●● Please refer to Section 11.2 of this
manual for detailed inspection procedures
regarding the following components:
»» Wheels.
»» Suspension system.
»» Brakes.
»» Doors/Ties/Lift.
»» Splash Guards.
Passenger Entry/Lift.
●● Check that entry doors operate smoothly
and close securely from the inside.
●● Check that the entry steps are clear, with the
treads not loose or worn excessively.
●● If equipped with a lift for the disabled, look for any
leaking, damaged or missing part and explain
how it should be checked for correct operation.
●● Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.
Emergency Exits.
●● Make sure all emergency exits are not damaged,
operate smoothly and close securely from the inside.
●● Check that any emergency exit
warning devices are working.
Passenger Seating.
●● Look for broken seat frames and check that
seat frames are firmly attached to the floor.
●● Check that seat cushions are attached
securely to the seat frames.
ENTRY/EXIT
Doors/Mirrors.
●● Check that entry/exit doors are not damaged
and operate smoothly from the outside. Hinges
should be secure with seals intact.
●● Make sure the passenger exit door mirrors and all
external mirrors and mirror brackets are not damaged
and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.
EXTERNAL INSPECTION
OF COACH/TRANSIT BUS
Level/Air Leaks.
●● See that the vehicle is sitting level (front and
rear) and if air-equipped, check for audible
air leaks from the suspension system.
Fuel Tank(s).
●● See that fuel tank(s) are secure with no leaks
from tank(s) or lines and the fuel cap is tight.
Baggage Compartments.
●● Check that baggage and all other exterior
compartment doors are not damaged,
operate properly and latch securely.
Battery/Box.
●● Wherever located, see that battery(s) are secure,
connections are tight and cell caps are present.
●● Battery connections should not show
signs of excessive corrosion.
●● Check that battery box and cover or door
is not damaged and is secure.
REMAINDER OF COACH/TRANSIT BUS
Remainder of Vehicle.
Please refer to Section 11.2 of this manual for detailed
inspection procedures for the remainder of the vehicle (i.e.
wheels).
page 11:5
PASSENGER BUS
VEHICLE INSPECTION MEMORY AID
VEHICLE REAR
●● doors and hinges (bus emergency exit)
●● splash guards and reflectors
Note: All drivers may use this aid during their pre-trip
inspection test. Be prepared to point to or touch the
listed items and explain what you would look for.
VEHICLE LIGHTS
●● headlights (high and low beam)
●● front signals and 4-way flashers
Note: Shaded components will not be required
on the pre-trip inspection test, but should be
checked on a daily basis.
●● front clearance
●● side clearance and reflectors
●● rear tail
●● rear signals and 4-way flashers
ENGINE COMPARTMENT
●● rear clearance
●● alternator mounted securely and belt *
●● brake lights
●● water pump mounted securely and belt *
INSIDE VEHICLE
●● air compressor mounted securely and belt *
* if gear driven, mention to the examiner
●● clutch (depressed) and gearshift (neutral)
●● coolant, oil and power steering levels
●● all gauges (oil, voltmeter, air/vacuum, etc.)
●● leaks and hoses
●● speedometer
VEHICLE FRONT
●● steering wheel play
●● steering box and steering linkage
●● springs and spring mounts
●● shock absorber
●● brake hose or line
●● brake drum or rotor
●● tire and rim
●● lug nuts and hub oil seal
If air brake equipped
●● brake hose
●● slack adjustor
●● brake chamber
VEHICLE SIDE
●● mirror and passenger entry
●● fuel tank mounted securely, leaks and cap
●● frame and drive shaft
●● exhaust
●● battery and/or baggage door
●● springs or air bag
●● spring mounts or air bag mounts
●● shock absorber
●● brake hose or line
●● brake drum or rotor
●● tires and rim
●● spacer
●● lug nuts and hub oil seal
If air brake equipped
●● brake hose
●● slack adjustor
●● brake chamber
*Belt - Check for proper tension, cracks or frays.
page 11:6
●● light indicators
●● horn and wipers
●● mirrors adjusted and windshield condition
●● heater and defroster
●● safety/emergency equipment
●● emergency exit(s), buzzer(s) and seating
●● parking brake
●● brake system check (see next
page for correct procedure)
●● service (foot) brake check (see
next page for correct procedure)
(B) - BUTTON
Note: All drivers are required to complete a brake
system check correctly in order to pass their pretrip inspection. The correct process is listed below
according to the vehicles braking system.
Continue to rapidly apply and release (fanning) the service
(foot) brake pedal to further reduce air tank pressure. The
parking brake button should pop out when the air pressure
falls to the manufacturer’s specification (usually between 20
to 40 psi). This causes the spring brakes to come on.
BRAKE SYSTEM CHECK FOR
HYDRAULIC BRAKES
TEST SERVICE (FOOT) BRAKES
PRIOR TO OPERATING
If the vehicle has hydraulic brakes, with the engine running,
apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal and hold
for five seconds. The brake pedal should not move.
If your vehicle has air brakes, build up your air pressure to
normal operating range (typically 120 psi), release (push
in) the parking brake button. Move forward slowly (about 5
mph) and apply the service (foot) brake pedal firmly. Note
any vehicle “Pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed
stopping action.
BRAKE SYSTEM CHECK FOR AIR BRAKES
If the vehicle has air brakes, you will need to check for leaks
(L), warning alarm/signal (A) and for the button (B). This test
is commonly referred to as the LAB inspection.
(L) - LEAKS
With a fully charged air system (typically 120 psi), turn off the
engine, chock the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake
button. Apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal.
Watch the air supply gauge and listen for air leaks. After the
initial pressure drop, the loss rate for single vehicles should be
no more than 3 psi in one minute. If the air loss rate exceeds
that figure, your air brake system will need to be repaired prior
to continuing with the skills test.
If your vehicle has hydraulic brakes, move forward slowly
(about 5 mph) and apply the service (foot) brake pedal firmly.
Note any vehicle “Pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed
stopping action.
Note: If your vehicle is air brake equipped, you must
locate and identify all air brake system components,
test your service brakes and correctly perform the
LAB in order to pass the air brake portion of the pretrip inspection.
(A) - ALARM/SIGNAL
Turn the key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release
(fanning) the service (foot) brake pedal to reduce air tank
pressure. The low air pressure warning signal (light, buzzer,
etc.) must come on before the pressure drops to less than
60 psi in the air tank.
page 11:7
STRAIGHT TRUCK
VEHICLE INSPECTION MEMORY AID
VEHICLE REAR
●● doors and hinges
●● splash guards and reflectors
Note: All drivers may use this aid during their pre-trip
inspection test. Be prepared to point to or touch the
listed items and explain what you would look for.
VEHICLE LIGHTS
●● headlights (high and low beam)
●● front signals and four-way flashers
ENGINE COMPARTMENT
●● alternator mounted securely and belt *
●● water pump mounted securely and belt *
●● air compressor mounted securely and belt *
* if gear driven, mention to the examiner
●● coolant, oil and power steering levels
●● leaks and hoses
VEHICLE FRONT
●● steering box and steering linkage
●● springs and spring mounts
●● shock absorber
●● brake hose or line
●● brake drum or rotor
●● tire and rim
●● front clearance
●● side clearance and reflectors
●● rear tail
●● rear signals and four-way flashers.
●● rear brake lights
●● rear clearance
INSIDE VEHICLE
●● clutch (depressed) and gearshift (neutral)
●● all gauges (oil, voltmeter, air/vacuum, etc.)
●● speedometer
●● light indicators
●● steering wheel play
●● horn(s)
●● mirrors adjusted and windshield condition
●● lug nuts and hub oil seal
●● wipers
If air brake equipped
●● safety/emergency equipment
●● brake hose
●● parking brake
●● slack adjustor
●● brake chamber
●● brake system check (see next
page for correct procedure)
VEHICLE SIDE
●● service brake check (see next
page for correct procedure)
●● door and mirror
●● fuel tank mounted securely, leaks and cap
●● frame and drive shaft
●● exhaust
●● battery and/or baggage door for buses
●● springs or air bag
●● spring mounts or air bag mounts
●● shock absorber
●● brake hose or line
●● brake drum or rotor
●● tires and rim
●● spacer
●● lug nuts and hub oil seal
If air brake equipped
●● brake hose
●● slack adjustor
●● brake chamber
*Belt - Check for proper tension, cracks or frays.
page 11:8
●● heater and defroster
(B) - BUTTON
Note: All drivers are required to complete a brake
system check correctly in order to pass their pretrip inspection. The correct process is listed below
according to the vehicles braking system.
Continue to rapidly apply and release (fanning) the service
(foot) brake pedal to further reduce air tank pressure. The
parking brake button should pop out when the air pressure
falls to the manufacturer’s specification (usually between 20
to 40 psi). This causes the spring brakes to come on.
BRAKE SYSTEM CHECK FOR HYDRAULIC
BRAKES (STRAIGHT TRUCK)
TEST SERVICE (FOOT) BRAKES
PRIOR TO OPERATING
If the vehicle has hydraulic brakes, with the engine running,
apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal and hold
for five seconds. The brake pedal should not move.
If your vehicle has air brakes, build up your air pressure to
normal operating range (typically 120 psi), release (push
in) the parking brake button. Move forward slowly (about 5
mph) and apply the service (foot) brake pedal firmly. Note
any vehicle “Pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed
stopping action.
BRAKE SYSTEM CHECK FOR AIR BRAKES
If the vehicle has air brakes, you will need to check for leaks
(L), warning alarm/signal (A) and for the button (B). This test
is commonly referred to as the LAB inspection.
(L) - LEAKS
With a fully charged air system (typically 120 psi), turn off the
engine, chock the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake
button. Apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal.
Watch the air supply gauge and listen for air leaks. After the
initial pressure drop, the loss rate for single vehicles should be
no more than 3 psi in one minute. If the air loss rate exceeds
that figure, your air brake system will need to be repaired prior
to continuing with the skills test.
If your vehicle has hydraulic brakes, move forward slowly
(about 5 mph) and apply the service (foot) brake pedal firmly.
Note any vehicle “Pulling” to one side, unusual feel or delayed
stopping action.
Note: If your vehicle is air brake equipped, you must
locate and identify all air brake system components,
test your service brakes and correctly perform the
LAB in order to pass the air brake portion of the pretrip inspection.
(A) - ALARM/SIGNAL
Turn the key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release
(fanning) the service (foot) brake pedal to reduce air tank
pressure. The low air pressure warning signal (light, buzzer,
etc.) must come on before the pressure drops to less than
60 psi in the air tank.
page 11:9
COMBINATION VEHICLES
INSPECTION MEMORY AID
TRAILER SIDE
●● landing gear
●● reflectors
Note: All drivers may use this aid during their pre-trip
inspection test. Be prepared to point to or touch the
listed items and explain what you would look for.
●● frame and deck
●● door and hinges
TRAILER REAR AXLE
●● springs or air bag
ENGINE COMPARTMENT
●● alternator mounted securely and belt *
●● water pump mounted securely and belt *
●● air compressor mounted securely and belt *
* if gear driven, mention to the examiner
●● coolant, oil and power steering levels
●● leaks and hoses
●● spring mounts or air bag mounts
●● shock absorber/torsion bar
●● brake hose or line
●● brake drum or rotor
●● tires and rim
●● spacer
●● lug nuts and hub oil seal
VEHICLE FRONT
●● steering box and steering linkage
●● springs and spring mounts
If air brake equipped
●● brake hose
●● slack adjustor
●● shock absorber
●● brake chamber
●● brake hose or line
●● brake drum or rotor
TRAILER REAR
●● tire and rim
●● doors and hinges
●● lug nuts and hub oil seal
●● splash guards and reflectors
If air brake equipped
VEHICLE LIGHTS
●● brake hose
●● headlights (high and low beam)
●● slack adjustor
●● front signals and 4-way flashers
●● brake chamber
●● front and side clearance
VEHICLE SIDE
●● rear tail
●● door and mirror
●● rear signals and 4-way flashers
●● fuel tank mounted securely, leaks and cap
●● frame and drive shaft
●● rear brake and clearance lights
INSIDE VEHICLE
●● exhaust
●● clutch (depressed) gearshift (neutral)
●● catwalk and steps
●● all gauges (oil, voltmeter, air/vacuum, etc.)
TRACTOR/TRUCK REAR
●● speedometer and light indicators
●● air hoses and electrical line
●● steering wheel play
TRAILER FRONT
●● mirrors adjusted and windshield condition
●● header board
●● wipers, heater and defroster
●● air hoses and electrical line connection
●● safety/emergency equipment
COUPLING DEVICE
Fifth Wheel
●● mounting bolts
●● locking pins (for slider)
●● release arm
●● platform
●● parking brake
Pintle Hook
●● pintle hook
●● locking pins, safety latch
●● safety chains
●● safety chain brackets
●● tow bar and tow bar eye
●● kingpin and apron
*Belt Check for proper tension, cracks or frays.
page 11:10
●● horn(s)
●● brake system check (see next
page for correct procedure)
●● service brake check (see next
page for correct procedure)
(B) - BUTTON
Note: All drivers are required to complete a brake
system check correctly in order to pass their pretrip inspection. The correct process is listed below
according to the vehicles braking system.
BRAKE SYSTEM CHECK FOR HYDRAULIC
BRAKES (COMBINATION VEHICLE)
If the vehicle has hydraulic brakes, with the engine running,
apply firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal and hold
for five seconds. The brake pedal should not move.
BRAKE SYSTEM CHECK FOR AIR BRAKES
If the vehicle has air brakes, you will need to check for leaks
(L), warning alarm/signal (A) and for the button (B). This test
is commonly referred to as the LAB inspection.
(L) - LEAKS
With a fully charged air system (typically 120 psi), turn off the
engine, chock the wheels, release (push in) the parking brake
button and trailer air supply (if the trailer has air brakes). Apply
firm pressure to the service (foot) brake pedal. Watch the air
supply gauge and listen for leaks. After the initial pressure
drop, the loss rate for single vehicles should be no more than
3 psi in one minute and no more than 4 psi in one minute for
combination vehicles (if the trailer has air brakes). If the air
loss rate exceeds those figures, your air brake system will
need to be repaired prior to continuing with the skills test.
Continue to rapidly apply and release (fanning) the service
(foot) brake pedal to further reduce air tank pressure. The
trailer supply button (if the trailer has air brakes) and the
parking brake button (all air brake vehicles) should pop out
when the air pressure falls to the manufacturer’s specification
(usually between 20 to 40 psi). This causes the spring brakes
to come on.
TEST SERVICE (FOOT) BRAKES
PRIOR TO OPERATING
If your vehicle has air brakes, build up your air pressure to
normal operating range (typically 120 psi), release (push in)
the parking brake button (all air brake vehicles) and the trailer
air supply button (if the trailer has air brakes). Move forward
slowly (about 5 mph) and apply the service (foot) brake pedal
firmly. Note any vehicle “Pulling” to one side, unusual feel or
delayed stopping action.
If your vehicle has hydraulic brakes, release the parking
brake, move forward slowly (about 5 mph) and apply the service
(foot) brake pedal firmly. Note any vehicle “Pulling” to one side,
unusual feel or delayed stopping action.
Note: If your vehicle is air brake equipped, you must
locate and identify all air brake system components,
test you service (foot) brakes and correctly perform
the LAB in order to pass the air brake portion of the
pre-trip inspection.
(A) - ALARM/SIGNAL
Turn the key to the on position. Rapidly apply and release
(fanning) the service (foot) brake pedal to reduce air tank
pressure. The low air pressure warning signal (light, buzzer,
etc.) must come on before the pressure drops to less than
60 psi in the air tank.
page 11:11
page 11:12
Section 12: Basic Vehicle Control Skills Test
This section covers:
●● Skills Test Exercises.
12.2 Exercises
●● Skills Test Scoring.
Your basic control skills could be tested using one or more of
the following exercises off-road or somewhere on the street
during the skills test.
●● Forward stop.
●● Straight line backing.
●● Alley dock.
FORWARD STOP
You may be asked to drive forward between two rows of cones
and bring your vehicle to a complete stop as close as you
can to the exercise boundary marked by an end line or set of
cones (without going beyond the line or cones). (Figure 12-1.).
Figure 12-1: Forward Stop
●● Parallel park (driver side).
●● Parallel park (conventional).
●● Right turn.
●● Backward serpentine.
These exercises are shown in Figures 12-1 through 12-7.
12.1 Scoring
CROSSING BOUNDARIES
The examiner will score the number of times you touch or
cross over a boundary line with any portion of your vehicle.
Each encroachment will count as an error.
PULL-UPS
In some of the exercises, the examiner will also score the
number of times you stop and change direction or pull-up
during the exercise. You will be given instructions prior to the
beginning of each exercise.
STRAIGHT LINE BACKING
You may be asked to back your vehicle in a straight line
between two rows of cones without touching or crossing over
the exercise boundaries. (Figure 12-2.).
Figure 12-2: Straight Line Backing
100'
Note: Wisconsin uses the straight line and
curved path (alley dock) backing maneuvers.
14'
page 12:1
Figure 12-5: Parallel Park (Conventional)
ALLEY DOCK
You may be asked to sight-side back your vehicle into an alley,
bringing the rear of your vehicle as close as possible to the
rear of the alley without going beyond the exercise boundary
marked by a line or row of cones. (Figure 12-3.).
Figure 12-3: Alley Dock
RIGHT TURN
40' maximun
You may be asked to drive forward and make a right turn
around a cone. You should try to bring the right rear wheel(s)
of your vehicle as close to the base of the cone as possible
without hitting it. (Figure 12-6.).
Figure 12-6: Right Turn
14'
PARALLEL PARK (DRIVER SIDE)
You may be asked to park in a parallel parking space on your
left. You are to drive past the parking space and back into
it bringing the rear of your vehicle as close as possible to the rear
of the space without crossing side or rear boundaries marked by
cones. You are to try to get your vehicle (or trailer, if combination
vehicle) completely into the space. (Figure 12-4)
Figure 12-4: Parallel Park (Driver Side)
BACKWARD SERPENTINE
You may be asked to back your vehicle through a 3-cone
serpentine without touching any cones or crossing over the
exercise (side) boundaries marked by cones. (Figure 12-7.).
Figure 12-7: Backward Serpentine
Start
PARALLEL PARK (CONVENTIONAL)
You may be asked to park in a parallel parking space that is on
your right. You are to drive past the parking space and back
into it bringing the rear of your vehicle as close as possible to
the rear of the space without crossing side or rear boundaries
marked by cones. You are to try to get your vehicle (or trailer, if
combination vehicle) completely into the space. (Figure 12-5.)
Finish
page 12:2
Section 13: On Road Driving Test
This section covers:
If stop required prior to the turn
●● How You Will Be Tested
●● Stop line. Stop before stop line, crosswalk or before
entering the intersection “curb line” of street.
Note: The examiner will be scoring your skills test using
the information supplied in the CDL Skills Test Guide,
printed on pages 13-1 through 13-4.
You will drive over a test route that has a variety of traffic
situations. At all times during the test, you must drive in a
safe and responsible manner.
During the driving test, the examiner will be scoring you on
specific driving maneuvers as well as on your general driving
behavior. You should follow the directions of the examiner.
Directions will be given to you so you will have plenty of time
to do what the examiner has asked. You will not be asked to
drive in an unsafe manner.
If your test route does not have certain traffic situations, you
may be asked to simulate a traffic situation. You should do
this by telling the examiner what you are or would be doing if
you were in that traffic situation.
Licensed commercial drivers are subject to retesting
by Wisconsin DMV and Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration CDL Examiners.
CDL Skills Test Guide
TURNS
Approach
●● Traffic check. Prior to reaching the corner, check the
mirrors with head movement to left and right, making
eye contact with other drivers and pedestrians.
●● Turn signal. Turn signals should be activated at
least 100 feet prior to the corner. Signaling too
early or too late confuses other motorists.
●● Deceleration. There should be a smooth
deceleration by braking gradually, not lugging the
engine and downshifting, if necessary. Do not coast
either by depressing the clutch too early or putting
the transmission into neutral until stopped.
●● Lane.
»» Right Turns. Vehicle should be positioned in
the right-most traffic lane and not over lane
markings. While making a right turn, you may go
over the left lane marking, but only if necessary.
»» Left Turns. Vehicle should be positioned in the
left-most (nearest to the center line) traffic lane and
not over lane markings—Single turn lane ONLY.
»» Multiple Left Turn Lanes. Vehicle should
be positioned in the right hand (outside)
traffic lane and not over lane markings.
●● Rollback. The vehicle should not
roll back when stopped.
●● Gap. Should be able to see the rear tires of
the vehicle ahead of you touch the pavement.
●● Wheels straight. Keep the steering wheel
straight until actually starting the turn, especially
in left turns. If your vehicle is rear ended,
it may be pushed into oncoming traffic.
Turning
●● Traffic check. While turning, there should be
head movement to the left and right, watching
for other drivers and pedestrians.
●● Both hands. While turning, both hands should be
on the steering wheel. The steering wheel can “selfreturn” as long as you are holding it with both hands.
●● Shifting. While turning, there should be no
shifting gears. Gear change is allowed when
starting from a stop while still traveling straight.
●● Speed. Speed during turns should be smooth,
even acceleration and no unnecessary stopping.
●● Wide/short. Do not cut across lanes unless necessary.
Do not force others to stop or backup. Tires should
not rub or run over the curb. Rear tires must be within
3 feet of the curb at the closest point during the turn.
Completing Turn
●● Traffic check. In addition to checking left
and right, check the mirror for vehicle path.
●● Correct lane. Left turns should be completed in the
lane closest to the center line and then move right when
safe (turning from single turn lane onto multiple lane
street/highway). Left turns when multiple turn lanes are
available need to be made from the right (outside) turn
lane and completed in the appropriate lane (watch the
dashed white lines outlining the correct turning path).
**Completing two or more turns into the wrong lane
is a disqualification.**
●● Signal. Canceled after completion of turn.
●● Accelerate. Acceleration should be smooth
with no stalling or lugging the engine.
page 13:1
INTERSECTIONS
Stopped Intersection
RAILROAD CROSSING
Approach
●● Traffic check. Prior to reaching the intersection, check
the mirrors with head movement to the left and right,
making eye contact with other drivers and pedestrians.
●● Traffic check. As you approach the tracks, check
the mirrors with head movement to the left and right
to ensure other traffic sees you are stopping.
●● Deceleration. There should be smooth deceleration
by braking gradually, not lugging the engine
and downshift, if necessary. Do not coast either
by depressing the clutch too early or putting
the transmission into neutral until stopped.
●● 4-Ways, Stop. All placarded vehicles, school
buses and motor buses carrying passengers, must
stop 15 to 50 feet from the nearest rail. Activate 4-way
flashers 100 feet before the tracks to warn other drivers
you are stopping. Use the right most lane for the stop.
●● Gap. Should be able to see the rear tires of the
vehicle ahead of you touch the pavement.
●● Stop line. Stop before stop line, crosswalk or before
entering the intersection “curb line” of street.
●● Rollback. The vehicle should not
roll back when stopped.
Driving Through Intersections
●● Traffic check. Check traffic to left and right
before entering the intersection and to the rear
by checking mirrors. If pedestrians or other traffic
is stopped or near the intersection, remove your
foot from the accelerator and cover the foot
brake. Anticipate the light changing to yellow.
●● Accelerate, Gear. Accelerate and shift smoothly.
●● Lane. Remain in traffic lane and do not
change lanes while in the intersection.
URBAN/RURAL SECTIONS
At Crossing
●● Foot Brake. Depress the foot brake so
your vehicle does not roll backward or
forward in a dangerous manner.
●● Door. Open the door (school bus and human
service vehicle) or van service window.
●● Train check. Check left and right (up and
down the track) for an approaching train.
CROSSING TRACKS (RESUME)
●● Traffic and train check. Recheck the mirrors
with head movement to left and right and
recheck the tracks for an approaching train.
●● Gear. No changing gears while the vehicle is
crossing the tracks and no stopping on the tracks.
●● Door. Close the service door when the front
wheels cross the first set of tracks.
●● Traffic checks. Check mirrors every 8 to 10 seconds.
●● 4-Ways. Turn 4-ways off after your
vehicle has resumed normal speed.
●● Proper lane. Keep your vehicle centered
in the proper lane and react to situations
requiring a lane change or reducing speed.
EXPRESSWAY
Merge On
●● Speed. Keep up with traffic, but do
not exceed the speed limit.
●● Traffic check, Signal, Gap. Check traffic, signal
100 feet before entering and allow a safe gap.
●● Following distance. Stay one second, for
every 10 feet of vehicle length, behind the
vehicle in front of you and add one second
if you are operating over 40 mph.
●● Smooth merge. Merge smoothly and safely
without crossing painted white lines.
Lane Change
●● Traffic check. Check traffic before,
during and after the lane change.
●● Signal. Turn signal on before the lane
change and cancel signal after the
vehicle is completely into new lane.
●● Smooth change. Change lanes
smoothly and not in an intersection.
BRIDGE/UNDERPASS
●● Weight/Clearance. Know the weight allowed
on a bridge or the clearance of an underpass.
CURVE
●● Traffic check. Check traffic that may
be affected by the path of your vehicle.
●● Speed, Lane. Maintain a proper safe speed while
keeping the entire vehicle within the traffic lane.
page 13:2
●● Signal off. Cancel the signal after
entering the expressway.
Straight Ahead Driving
●● Traffic check. Check mirrors every 8 to 10 seconds.
●● Proper lane. Keep your vehicle centered
in the proper lane and react to situations
requiring a lane change or reducing speed.
●● Speed. Keep up with traffic,
but do not exceed the speed limit.
●● Following distance. Stay one second, for
every 10 feet of vehicle length, behind the
vehicle in front of you and add one second
if you are operating over 40 mph.
LANE CHANGES (SAME AS LANE
CHANGE IN URBAN/RURAL)
Exit
●● Traffic check. Prior to reaching the exit, check the
mirrors with head movement to the left and right.
●● Signal. At least 100 feet before the exit.
DRIVING DOWN
●● Lane. Enter smoothly at the start of the exit lane.
●● Traffic check. Check mirrors with head movement
to the left and right while driving down.
●● Decelerate. Smooth deceleration on the
exit ramp, (brake gradually, not lug the
engine and downshift if necessary).
●● Ramp speed. Maintain a safe speed
(watch for warning signs).
●● Gap. Maintain proper spacing with traffic when exiting.
●● Signal off. Cancel the signal when
the vehicle is on exit ramp.
HILL START/STOP
Approach (Same As Stopped Intersection)
●● Turn signal. Turn signals should be activated
at least 100 feet prior to pulling over for a stop.
Stopped
●● Parallel. Vehicle is completely in the right most
lane, parallel with the curb, gravel or road edge.
●● 4-ways on. Turn signal lights off and 4-ways on.
●● Parking brake. Set the parking brake(s).
Resume
●● Traffic check. Check traffic before and
while pulling away from curb.
●● 4-ways off, signal on. Turn 4-way flashers
off and turn signal on, before pulling out.
●● Proper braking. Use intermittent, moderate
applications (snubs) if needed to control speed.
Apply the brakes for 3 seconds to reduce
speed to 5 mph under the safe speed.
●● 4-Ways off. Turn 4-ways off after reaching the
bottom of the grade. Signal to the left, check traffic
and safely merge to the left if your lane is ending.
BACKING GUIDELINES
Positioning
●● Traffic checks. Check mirrors with head
movement to the left and right.
●● Signal, 4-Ways. Activate turn signal
100 feet before positioning to back up.
Turn signal off and activate 4-way flashers.
Backing
●● Traffic check - Check traffic in
BOTH mirrors while backing.
●● Pull up. Is scored if you need to pull forward
while performing the straight line backing maneuver.
The first pull forward is not scored while performing
the curved path (alley dock) maneuver. If you need
to pull forward two or more times, it is scored.
●● Speed. Back at a slow speed (under 5 mph).
●● Pulling away. Release the parking brake; do not
stall engine or rollback. Accelerate smoothly.
●● Boundary. Do not cross over boundaries
(cones, painted lines, marked traffic lanes).
MOUNTAIN GRADE
Driving Up
Resume
●● Traffic check. Check mirrors to the rear,
before, during and after moving to the right.
Scan mirrors while climbing the grade.
●● Traffic check. Check mirrors with
head movement left and right.
●● 4-ways off, Signal. Turn 4-ways off and
turn signal on to return to the traffic lane.
●● Signal. Activate turn signal at least
100 feet before moving to the right lane.
●● Proper gear. Use proper gear and
downshift, if necessary.
●● Keep right, 4-ways. Be in the right most
traffic lane using 4-way flashers.
Top Of Grade
●● Brakes. Check service (foot) brakes
before starting down the mountain.
●● Proper gear. Select the proper gear before starting
down the mountain and NO shifting going down.
page 13:3
SCHOOL BUS DISCHARGE (RURAL)
Approach and Stop
●● Traffic checks. Scan the road ahead
and behind the bus with mirror checks,
before activating red flashing lights.
●● Red flashing warning lights. Activate the red
flashing lights at least 100 feet before the stop.
●● Traffic recheck. Check mirrors and traffic ahead to
ensure other drivers see and react to the red lights.
●● Stop arm. Extend stop arm after the bus is stopped.
●● Gear. Transmission should be placed in neutral
(including automatic transmissions). Depress
the foot brake to prevent the bus from rolling.
Discharge
Resuming
●● Traffic check. Check crossover mirror(s).
●● Stop arm, door. Close the door completely, turn off the
red warning lights, check traffic and accelerate smoothly.
GENERAL DRIVING BEHAVIOR
Traffic checks. 5 additional points scored when the
driver does not check traffic properly 5 or more times.
Shifting/gears. 5 additional points scored when
the driver does not shift properly (uses clutch,
misses/clashes gears) 5 or more times.
Signals, 4 ways. 5 additional points scored
when the driver does not use signals or
4-ways properly 5 or more times.
●● Inform students. where to wait (10 feet
in front of the bus), signal to cross the road,
signal not to cross the road (in case of danger),
and, for students not crossing the road,
to move immediately away from the bus.
Coasting, deceleration and roll back. 5 additional
points scored when the driver coasts, does not decelerate
smoothly or rolls back 24 inches or less (includes
selecting reverse gear in error) 5 or more times.
Students Exit
Crash. The driver is involved in any
crash the driver could have prevented
or contacts any fixed object or pedestrian.
●● Traffic check. Must check all traffic (especially
right outside mirror) prior to opening the door.
●● Door. Open door after re-checking traffic.
●● Students. Count all students leaving bus,
check students not crossing (to be safely away
from the bus) and check students that are
waiting for your signal to cross the road.
Crossing Road
●● Traffic check. Must check all traffic (especially
left outside mirror and oncoming traffic) before
motioning students to cross the road.
●● Students. Signal students to cross when safe.
After students have safely crossed the road, account
for all students leaving the bus (count students that
crossed and students not crossing the road.).
IMMEDIATE DISQUALIFICATION
Dangerous act. Driver almost causes
a crash. This includes the driver:
●● forcing someone else to take immediate action.
●● causing the examiner to take
action to avoid a crash.
●● backing up because the driver
took a turn too short.
●● driving over a curb.
●● not checking traffic or not slowing down when
going through an uncontrolled intersection.
●● rolling back more than 24 inches.
●● having both hands off the steering wheel
for an extended period of time.
Law violations. Violating any traffic law.
This includes, but is not limited to: ●● speeding.
●● failing to stop for a stop sign or traffic signal.
●● making one turn entirely from the wrong lane.
●● turning into the wrong lane (two times)
at the completion of a turn.
●● failing to signal properly, affecting other traffic.
page 13:4
The original back cover (214 kb) for the
Wisconsin Commercial Driver’s Manual, Volume 1
is not included here in order to reduce the file size,
so you may download the handbook more quickly.
BDS 115, Volume 1
March 2012
Wisconsin Commercial
Driver’s Manual
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