VA_CDLManual
It’s illegal for commercial drivers to have more than one
license. You must keep the license issued by the state
where you live. All other licenses must be returned to the
states that issued them. If you fail to return licenses from
other states, you could be fined up to $5,000, put in jail
for up to 90 days, or both.
Introduction
You may not hold both a Virginia-issued CDL and a
Virginia DMV-issued photo ID.
CDL Age Requirements
You must be at least 18 years of age to hold a CDL. Under
federal law, you must be a commercial driver at least 21 years
of age to drive across state lines, transport hazardous materials
or transport interstate freight (e.g., mail) within the state. If you
are under 21 years of age, you may be issued a CDL with a “L”
restriction. This restriction indicates that your driving privileges
are valid only in Virginia.
What is a Commercial Motor Vehicle?
 a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating
(GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more
 a combination of vehicles with a gross combination
weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more if the
vehicle(s) being towed has a GVWR of more than 10,000
pounds
 vehicles designed to carry 16 or more passengers,
including the driver
 any size vehicle that transports hazardous materials and
that requires federal placarding
Who are Commercial Drivers?
Commercial drivers are all persons, paid or volunteer, who
operate commercial motor vehicles. Volunteer drivers of church
buses, private or public school buses and mechanics who test
drive commercial vehicles must meet commercial driver’s
license requirements.
Commercial driver’s license requirements don’t apply to:
 operators of emergency vehicles, such as firefighters
 active duty military personnel operating military vehicles
 operators of farm vehicles when
 used by farmers
 used to move farm goods, supplies or machinery
to or from their farm
 not used as a common or contract motor carrier,
and
 used within 150 miles of the farm
 vehicles operated by persons only for personal use, such
as recreational vehicles and rental moving vans.
V I R G I N I A
CDL Instruction Permit
If you want to learn to drive commercial motor vehicles, you
must get a commercial driver’s license instruction permit.
To obtain a CDL instruction permit, you must pass the CDL
general knowledge exam and the other knowledge exams for
the vehicles that you want to drive. For example, if you want to
learn to operate a tank vehicle and a passenger bus, you must
take the general knowledge exam, the tank vehicle exam and
the passenger vehicle exam. If you intend to drive a vehicle
equipped with air brakes, you must take the air brakes exam.
If you want to learn to drive a school bus, you must take the
general knowledge, school bus and passenger vehicle exams.
The CDL instruction permit allows you to drive a commercial
vehicle of the class and type shown on the permit only when
a person licensed to drive the same type of vehicle is with you.
Refer to the Virginia Driver’s Manual for an explanation of all
requirements including the passenger vehicle general knowledge and road skills tests. When applying for a CDL instruction
permit, you must certify on the application that you are or are
not required to comply with federal or state regulations.
If you hold a CDL instruction permit, you must hold it for a
minimum of 30 days or show proof that you previously held
a CDL or that you have completed an approved Virginia
CDL driver education course. Additionally, if you received
the instruction permit in a state that does not administer a
knowledge exam before issuing the instruction permit, you must
pass the Virginia General Knowledge CDL exam plus all other
applicable exams before a Virginia CDL will be issued to you.
CDL Classifications
You should get your CDL for the class vehicle you plan to drive
plus you may need additional endorsements.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 5
Introduction
Class A Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination
weight rating of 26,001 pounds
or more if the vehicle(s) being
towed have a GVWR of more
than 10,000 pounds. Vehicles
in this class include:
CDL Restrictions
J
You may only operate a school/activity bus. You may not
operate any other type of commercial motor vehicle.
K
You may not operate a vehicle with air brakes. If you
plan to operate a vehicle with air brakes, you must take
the air brakes knowledge exam. You must also take the
road test in a vehicle equipped with air brakes.
L
You may not operate a commercial motor vehicle
outside of Virginia.
 tractor-trailer
 truck and trailer
combinations
 tractor-trailer buses
If you hold a class A license and you have the correct
endorsements, you may also operate vehicles listed in classes B
and C.
Class B Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or
more. Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or
more towing another vehicle
with a GVWR of 10,000
pounds or less.
This class includes:
 large buses
 segmented buses
 trucks towing vehicles
with a GVWR of 10,000
pounds or less
Operation of a passenger bus restricted to a Class C
passenger vehicle.
Y
You must wear corrective lenses when operating a
commercial motor vehicle.
Moving Violations
CDL Fees
If you hold a class B license and you have the correct
endorsements, you may also operate vehicles listed in class C.
Class C Any vehicle that is not included in classes A or B that
carries hazardous materials
requiring placards or is
designed to carry 16 or more
passengers, including the driver.
Remember, the class of a vehicle is determined by its
gross vehicle weight rating and the manufacturer’s design.
The vehicle’s class determines the type of CDL and
endorsements that you need. If you drive a redesigned or
altered vehicle, the vehicle’s original class determines the
type of CDL and endorsements that you need. The type of
CDL that you need is not determined by the class that the
redesigned vehicle falls within.
CDL Endorsements
H
Permits you to drive a vehicle that transports hazardous
materials.
N
Permits you to drive a tank vehicle.
P
Permits you to drive a passenger-carrying vehicle.
S
Permits you to drive a school bus.
T
Permits you to drive a double or triple trailer.
V I R G I N I A
N
If you receive an intrastate CDL when you are under age 20
and you renew at age 20, you must retake all exams if you
have received one or more moving violations.
 straight trucks
6 |
M Operation of a passenger bus restricted to a Class B
passenger vehicle.
C O M M E R C I A L
Commercial driver’s licenses issued by DMV are valid
for eight years. CDL holders with a hazardous materials
endorsement must continue to follow the federal guidelines
and renew their hazmat endorsement every five years. The
validity period for driver’s licenses issued to persons registered
as sex offenders will be no more than five years.
Original
Renewal
Replacement
Driver’s
License
$4.00 per year
$4.00 per year
$10.00
CDL
designation
$3.00 per year
$3.00 per year
$10.00
Class
$1.00 per year
$1.00 per year
N/C
Endorsements*
$1.00 per year
$1.00 per year
N/C
CDL instruction
permit
$3.00
$2.00
The CDL fee is $8.00 per year. This includes the $4.00
driver’s license fee, the $3.00 CDL designation, plus $1.00
for the CDL class. Since the CDL validity period is eight years,
your fee will be $64.
*Endorsements are $1 per year regardless of the number of
endorsements you receive.
Federal law requires applicants for hazardous materials
endorsements to be fingerprinted for a background check.
The background check fee is $83.00.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Introduction
Getting Your CDL
To obtain your CDL, you must meet the requirements for a
Virginia driver’s license including the following:
Proof of Identity, Legal Presence, Virginia
Residency and Social Security Number
If you do not hold a valid Virginia driver’s license, you must
present the following documents.
registered. If you are underage 18, your parent or guardian must
sign your application authorizing the Selective Service to register
you when you turn 18. Law prohibits DMV from issuing any
type of driver’s license or photo ID card to an applicant who
is required by federal law to register with the Selective Service
but who refuses to authorize DMV to send his information to
Selective Service. If you have questions about Selective Service
registration, visit the Selective Service web site at www.sss.gov or
call 847-688-6888, TTY: 847-688-2567.
 2 proof of identity documents, such as a driver’s
license, birth certificate, Virginia CDL instruction permit,
unexpired U.S. military identification card or U.S.
military discharge papers. You must provide original or
duplicate documents. Photocopies will not be accepted.
Refer to Acceptable Documents for Obtaining a Driver’s
License or Photo ID card (DMV 141) for a complete list
of acceptable documents.
Out-of-State CDL
 1 proof of legal presence such as a U.S. birth certificate
or U.S. passport. Legal presence can be proved using
a variety of other documents, such as a Certificate of
Citizenship or naturalization, Resident Alien Card, or
a valid foreign passport with a visa, I-94 or an I-94W
with a participating country. Later in 2004, if you apply
for a hazardous materials endorsement, you will be
required to provide specific documents to meet federal
requirements.
All CDL applicants must certify that they are in compliance with
the federal and Virginia motor carrier safety regulations.
 1 proof of Virginia residency and the street address of
your principal Virginia residence. If you are under age
19, your parent or guardian must certify your Virginia
residency. All documents must show your name and the
address of your principal Virginia residence as it appears
on your application. A post office box or business
address is not acceptable.
However, if you do not want your residence address to
appear on your CDL, you may provide DMV with an
alternate address in addition to your residence address.
This alternate address must also be in Virginia. If you
change your residence or alternate address to a location
outside Virginia, your CDL will be cancelled. Exceptions
may be made for some individuals such as active duty
military personnel and Virginia residents employed
outside the U.S. Refer to Acceptable Documents for
Obtaining a Driver’s License or Photo ID card (DMV 141)
for more information.
 1 proof of your social security number, such as your
social security card, IRS W-2 form, payroll check or
check stub, unexpired U.S. military identification card or
income tax return from a previous year. DMV will assign
you a customer number which will display on your CDL
or CDL instruction permit.
Selective Service Registration
Generally, males under age 26 must register with the Selective
Service. If you are required by federal law to register with
the Selective Service, you must authorize DMV to send your
personal information to Selective Service unless you have already
V I R G I N I A
If you hold an expired out-of-state CDL, you must pass all
required CDL knowledge and skills tests to qualify for a Virginia
CDL. Virginia does not recognize tests or certificates from
out-of-state third party testers or driving schools.
Compliance with Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
Virginia law requires that, beginning January 30, 2012, all CDL
applicants who certify that they will operate a commercial motor
vehicle in non-excepted interstate or intrastate commerce shall
provide the Department of Motor Vehicles with an original or
certified copy of a medical examiner’s certificate prepared by a
medical examiner as defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration. Any commercial driver who fails to comply with
these requirements will not be eligible for a commercial driver’s
license.
To obtain a medical examination form, contact J. J. Keller and
Associates at 1-800-327-6868, Label Master at 1-800-621-5808,
the Virginia Trucking Association or the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration at www.fmcsa.dot.gov. Vendors may charge
a fee for this form.
Vision Standards
To operate commercial motor vehicles, you must have:
 20/40 or better vision in each eye with or without
corrective lenses, and
 140 degrees or better horizontal vision.
These visual requirements must be met without the aid of a
telescopic lens. Additionally, you must be able to recognize
traffic signs and devices showing standard red, green or amber
indicators. Some drivers may be granted waivers from these
vision requirements. For information concerning waivers for
intrastate travel, contact DMV. For information concerning
waivers for interstate travel, contact the Federal Motor Carrier
Safety Administration at Vision Program, 400 7th Street, S.W.,
Washington, DC 20590.
Motor carriers are required to comply with a variety of federal
and state laws that are not addressed in this manual. Learn
about the requirements in the Motor Carrier Programs section
of the DMV website, www.dmvNOW.com.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 7
Introduction
Taking the CDL Tests
All commercial vehicle drivers (class A, B and C vehicles) must
take the general knowledge exam. Check the following chart to
find out which exams you need to take in addition to the general
knowledge exam.
To drive this vehicle:
Study this section:
Class A, B and C
Section 1: General Knowledge
Section 6: Transporting Cargo
Vehicles with air brakes
Class A combination vehicle
Section 2: Air Brakes
If you do not take the air brakes exam,
you will be restricted to driving vehicles
without air brakes (K restriction)
Section 3: Combination Vehicles
In addition to the exams listed above, you must take special
exams for each endorsement:
T – Double-triple trailer
Section 4: Doubles and Triples
H – Hazardous materials
Section 9: Hazardous Materials
The hazardous materials endorsement
test cannot be taken using a translator.
This test cannot be administered orally.
N – Tank vehicle
Section 7: Tank Vehicles
P – Passenger vehicle
Section 8: Transporting Passengers
S – School bus
Section 5: School Buses
Be Prepared
 You may take the CDL knowledge exam(s) only once per
business day. If you fail any knowledge exam, you must
pay a $2 re-examination fee if you retake the exam within
15 days.
 If you fail the commercial driver’s license general
knowledge exam three times, you will not be permitted
to take it a fourth time until you successfully complete the
knowledge component of driver instruction at a driver
training school approved by DMV. You must complete
the driver instruction after the third unsuccessful attempt
to pass the test. Upon completion of the knowledge
component and presentation of your certificate of
completion, DMV will allow you to take the knowledge
test again.
 If you fail the commercial driver’s license behind-thewheel test three times, you will not be permitted to take
it a fourth time until you successfully complete the invehicle component of driver instruction at a driver training
school approved by DMV. You must complete the driver
instruction after the third unsuccessful attempt to pass the
test. Upon completion of the in-vehicle component and
presentation of your certificate of completion, DMV will
allow you to take the behind-the-wheel test again.
 If you fail to show up for a scheduled CDL skills test
without notifying the examiner in advance, DMV will
charge you a $50 fee.
Test Tip
The knowledge exam determines your familiarity with the
operation of commercial vehicles, motor vehicle laws and safe
driving techniques. Test questions are taken from the information
8 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
in this manual. You must answer at least 80 percent of the general
knowledge questions correctly. To prepare for the knowledge
exam, study all information in this manual. When taking the
knowledge exam, select the one best answer. Remember, your
first answer is usually correct.
Once you pass the required knowledge exam(s), you can take the
CDL skills exams. These exams include three areas:
 Pre-trip inspection
 Basic vehicle control
 On-road driving
You must take the skills exams in the type of vehicle for which
you want to be licensed. Translators cannot be used during the
pre-trip inspection, basic vehicle control, or the road skills test.
Disqualifications
If you are convicted of any of the following violations when
driving a commercial or non commercial motor vehicle, you will
be disqualified or prohibited from driving commercial vehicles.
 You will receive a one-year disqualification for the
following offenses:
 Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04
percent
 Driving while under the influence of drugs
 Refusing a blood and/or breath test
 Leaving the scene of an accident
 Using a vehicle to commit a felony
 Driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) when,
as a result of prior violations committed operating
a CMV, the driver’s CDL is revoked, suspended,
or canceled or the driver is disqualified from
operating a CMV
 Causing a fatality through the negligent operation
of a CMV
 Making a false statement on any application for a
commercial driver’s license
 Falsifying a urine test
 You will receive a two-year disqualification if you are
convicted of violating an out-of-service order while
operating a commercial motor vehicle designated to
transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver.
 You will receive a three-year disqualification if you
were convicted of one of the offenses listed above while
transporting hazardous materials.
 You will receive a life-time disqualification if you: receive a
second conviction for one of the violations listed above; or,
if you are convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle in
the manufacture or illegal distribution of drugs.
 You will receive a 60-day disqualification if you are convicted
of two serious violations within a three-year period.
 You will receive a 120-day disqualification if you are
convicted of three or more serious violations within a
three-year period.
 You will receive a one-year disqualification for your first
conviction of violating of an out-of-service order.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Introduction
 You will receive a two-year disqualification for your
first conviction of violating an out-of-service order while
operating a vehicle carrying hazardous materials or
designed to carry 16 or more passengers.
 You will receive a five-year disqualification for the second
and following convictions of violating out-of-service orders.
 You will receive a five-year disqualification if you are
convicted of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter where
a death occurred as a direct result of the operation of a
commercial vehicle.
 You may not operate commercial motor vehicles if you are
convicted of driving under the influence even if you are
issued a restricted license that allows you to drive during
the suspension period. This applies even if the violation
occurred in your personal car.
If the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
notifies DMV that you have been determined to be an
eminent hazard and disqualified from operating a commercial
motor vehicle, the information will be noted on your driving
record. Also, any disqualification imposed by DMV will run
concurrently with the disqualification imposed by FMCSA.
Serious traffic violations are:
 Driving 15 or more miles per hour in excess of the
posted speed limit
 Reckless driving
 A violation resulting in a fatal traffic crash
 Improper or erratic traffic lane change
 Following the vehicle ahead too closely
 Driving a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL
 Driving a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL in
the driver’s immediate possession
 Driving a commercial motor vehicle without the proper
CDL class and/or endorsements for the specific vehicle
group being operated or for the passengers or type of
cargo being transported
 Texting while operating a commercial motor vehicle
All CDL drivers are subject to Virginia’s controlled substance
and alcohol testing laws. If you operate a commercial vehicle
under the influence of alcohol or drugs, refuse to take a blood
alcohol test or are found to have a BAC of 0.04 percent or
greater, your CDL will be disqualified. The disqualification
period ranges from one year to life, but does not necessarily
affect your privilege to drive a non-commercial vehicle.
If you operate a vehicle on Virginia’s roadways, you agree to
take a chemical test upon request to determine if you are driving
under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is called implied
consent.
Any person who possesses or consumes an alcoholic beverage
while operating a school bus transporting children is guilty of
a Class 1 misdemeanor. A person convicted of this offence is
punishable by confinement in jail for up to 12 months and/or a
fine of up to $2,500.
V I R G I N I A
If the police have probable cause to stop you and suspect that
you have been drinking or using drugs, they will ask you to take a
breath test. This test analyzes the amount of alcohol and drugs in
your body. Under implied consent laws, if you operate a motor
vehicle on Virginia’s public roads, you agree to take a chemical
test upon request.
You are required to take the test. If you refuse, your license
will be immediately suspended for seven days and it may be
suspended for one year, whether or not you are convicted of
driving under the influence. If you are convicted of DUI, the
suspension period for refusing the test will be added to the DUI
revocation period.
Railroad crossing violations will result in a
 60-day disqualification for a first offense
 120-day disqualification for a second offense committed
within three years
 one-year disqualification for a third offense committed
within three years.
Virginia law prohibits the court from allowing drivers of
commercial motor vehicles, or persons holding a CDL and
operating a non-commercial motor vehicle, to attend a driver
improvement clinic in lieu of a conviction, or to reduce or defer a
conviction.
If you are convicted of a felony sexual offense involving a
minor, you must register with the Virginia State Police. You
must re-register within 30 days of moving.
Organ/Tissue Donation
When you apply for your driver’s license, learner’s permit,
commercial driver’s license or photo ID card, you will be asked
if you wish to become an organ donor. If you decide to become
a donor, your choice will be noted on the front of your driver’s
license or photo ID card. If you wish to change your decision
later, you must notify DMV and pay a $10.00 fee. You may also
complete this transaction on the Internet with a DMV-issued PIN
number. You may have the change made free of charge at your
next renewal. The decision to become an organ/tissue donor will
not affect your driving privileges.
Applying to Register to Vote
You can use DMV’s driver’s license application to indicate your
wish to apply to register to vote. You may also use the driver’s
license application to change your voter registration, name
and address. You may also use the separate address change
notification form.
You are not registered to vote until your local registrar approves
your application. Once registered, you will receive a card
showing your voting location and election district. Contact your
local registrar if you do not receive this notification.
If you have questions, contact the State Board of Elections,
1-800-552-9745 (TDD 1-800-260-3466).
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 9
Section 1: General Knowledge
 At least 2/32” of tread depth in major grooves on
other tires
Section 1:
General Knowledge
 Cuts or other damage
 Dual tires touching
Wheels and rims (all axles)
Check for:
 Damaged rims or wheels
 Rust around wheel nuts; loose lug nuts
 Missing clamps, spacers, studs or lugs
 Mismatched, bent or cracked lock rings
 Wheels or rims that have been welded
 Axle seal/hub oil seal—not leaking; proper fluid level
Brakes (all axles)
Look for brake drum and shoe problems on front, rear and
trailer brakes:
 Cracked drums
 Shoes or pads with oil, grease or brake fluid on them
Safety is
the most important reason to inspect your
vehicle. Inspecting your vehicle for defects can prevent
breakdowns and crashes.
 Shoes worn thin, missing or broken
Federal and state laws require drivers to inspect their vehicles
before every trip. Federal and state inspectors can inspect
your vehicle. If they find that it is unsafe, they can put it out of
service until you have it fixed. If you are convicted of violating
an out-of-service order, your CDL will be disqualified.
 Broken or loose slack adjusters; should not be at more
than a 90 degree angle with brakes applied
 Cracked, worn or frayed air hoses
 Cracks or dents in the air chamber
Steering system
Look for:
 Missing nuts, bolts, cotter keys or other parts on the
steering box
There are three kinds of inspections:
 pre-trip
 Bent, loose or broken parts of the steering linkage
including the steering gear box, pitman arm and the
drag link.
 during the trip
 after the trip
 Worn or frayed power steering hoses; pumps mounted
securely, no leaks; and fluid level full
Pre-trip Inspection
 Power steering fluid leaks
A pre-trip inspection helps you find problems that could
cause a breakdown or crash.
 Steering wheel play of more than 10 degrees
(approximately 2 inches of movement at the rim of a
20-inch steering wheel)
What to Look for During the Inspection
Tires (all axles)
 Check for proper tire pressure using an air pressure
gauge.
 It is illegal to use regrooved, recapped or retreaded tires
on the front wheels of a bus.
 Look for:
 Mismatched tire sizes
 Radial and bias-ply tires used together
 At least 4/32” of tread depth in major grooves on
front tires
10 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
 If your vehicle has a steering axle brake, be sure that it
is never disabled.
 Parts rubbing against the fuel system, tires or other
moving parts
 Loose, broken or missing parts
Suspension system (all axles)
The suspension system holds up the vehicle and its load. It
keeps the axles in place. Therefore, broken suspension parts
are very dangerous. Look for front, rear and trailer suspension
defects:
 Spring hangers that allow movement of an axle from the
proper position
 Cracked or broken spring hangers
Emergency equipment
Your vehicle must be equipped with the following emergency
equipment:
 Properly charged and securely mounted fire
extinguisher
 Spare electrical fuses
 Three reflective triangles
 Missing or broken
leaves in any leaf
spring. If one
fourth or more
are missing, your
vehicle could be
put out of service.
But, any defect is
dangerous.
Cargo
 Make sure your truck is not overloaded. Be sure that
the cargo is balanced and secured before each trip.
 If you are carrying hazardous materials, be sure you
have the proper papers and placarding.
Inspection Steps
 Broken leaves in
the multileaf spring
Before you inspect the vehicle, make sure that the parking
brakes are on and the wheels are chocked. If you have to tilt
the cab, secure loose items so they won’t fall.
 Leaves that have
shifted and could
hit a tire or other
part
Review the last vehicle inspection report. Drivers may have
to make a vehicle inspection report each day. The motor
carrier must repair any items that affect safety. The motor
carrier must certify on the report that the repairs were made
or that they were unnecessary.
 Leaking shock
absorbers
 Torque rod or arm,
u-bolts, spring
hangers or other
axle positioning
parts that are
cracked, damaged
or missing
Check the engine compartment.
 Engine oil level
 Coolant level in radiator, condition of hoses
 Power steering fluid level; hose condition
 Battery fluid level, connections and tie downs
 Air suspension
systems that are damaged and or leaking
 Any loose, cracked, broken or missing frame members
 Automatic transmission fluid level (you may have to
start the engine)
 Check belts for tightness and wear (alternator, water
pump, air compressor)
 Leaks in the engine compartment—fuel, coolant, oil,
power steering fluid, hydraulic fluid, water pump
Start the engine and inspect inside the cab.
 Check the gauges to be sure they are working properly.
 Oil pressure should come up to normal within
seconds after the engine is started.
 Ammeter and/or voltmeter
 Coolant temperature
Exhaust system
 Engine oil temperature
Check for:
 Warning lights and buzzers should go out right
away.
 Leaking parts
 Leaks which could allow carbon monoxide to leak into
your cab
V I R G I N I A
 Check the controls for looseness, sticking, damage or
improper setting.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 11
Section 1: General Knowledge
 Steering wheel
 Right side
 Right front—check same items as checked for
left front
 Clutch
 Accelerator
 Fuel tanks—no leaks, bands tight, secure to
vehicle, fuel cap tight
 Brake controls
 Foot brake
 Condition of visible parts
 Trailer brake
 Rear of engine
 Parking brake
 Transmission
 Retarder controls
 Driveshaft—not loose, not bent or broken
 Transmission controls
 Exhaust system—visible parts securely
mounted; no cracks, holes or severe dents;
air hoses and electrical lines clear of exhaust
system
 Interaxle differential lock
 Horns
 Windshield wiper/washer
 Frame and cross members—not cracked,
broken, bent or welded, no signs of breaks
or holes in box or trailer floor
 Lights—be sure none are broken and the lenses
are clean
 Headlights
 Air lines and electrical wiring—secured to
prevent snagging, rubbing, wearing
 Dimmer switch
 Turn signals
 Spare tire carrier or rack
 4-way flashers
 Spare tire and/or wheel securely mounted in
rack
 Clearance, identification, marker light
switches
 Spare tire and wheel (proper size, properly
inflated)
 Check the mirrors and windshield. Look for cracks,
dirt, illegal stickers or other obstructions.
 Cargo securement (for trucks)
 Check the emergency equipment.
 Working fire extinguisher—properly charged and
mounted
 Spare electrical fuses
 Three reflective triangles
 Check that all lights are working.
 Check the left front side.
 Driver’s door glass and side view mirrors—clean,
properly mounted and not broken
 Left front suspension
 Left front brake
 Check that all curbside cargo compartment doors
are securely closed, latched or locked and that
required security seals are in place.
 Right rear
 Wheels and rims
 Tires—rear tire tread depth at least 2/32 of an
inch; may be retreads
 Lug nuts
 Axle seals
 Front
 Steering system
 Spacers—dual wheels are evenly separated and
tires are not touching one another; spacers not
bent, damaged or rusted
 Windshield
 Suspension
 Lights and reflectors—not broken, lenses clear
and clean
 Brakes
 Front axle
12 |
 Side boards and stakes strong enough, free of
damage and properly set in place.
 If vehicle is oversized, check that all required
signs, flags, lamps and reflectors are safely and
properly mounted and that you have all required
permits.
Make a walk-around inspection.
 Left front wheel
 Header board adequate and secure
 Canvas or tarp (if required) properly secured to
prevent tearing, billowing or blocking of mirrors
Turn off the engine and check the lights and 4-way
flashers.
 Door opens and closes properly and fits flush
against the cab
 Cargo properly blocked, braced, tied, chained
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
 Lights and reflectors
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
 Spacers (if applicable—not cracked, broken or
loose)
 Axle seal/hub oil seal—not leaking and at proper
level
 Rear
 Lights and reflectors
 Parking brake check
 Set the parking brake.
 Put the vehicle in low gear and gently release the
clutch until you feel the vehicle pulling against
the brake.
 The vehicle should not move.
 License plate
 Splash guards
If you find anything wrong with the brake system, get it
fixed before you drive.
 Cargo securement
 Left side—Check all items checked for the right side.
Also check:
 Battery(s) if they are not mounted in the engine
compartment
 If you are driving a bus, also check:
Check the signal lights.
 the passenger entry—steps and handrails
secure, no worn matting, door opens and closes
correctly
Start the engine and check the brake system.
 seating—secure
 Hydraulic brake check
 If the vehicle has hydraulic brakes, pump the
brake pedal 3 times.
 Apply firm pressure to the pedal and hold for 5
seconds.
 The pedal should not move.
 If it does, there may be a leak or other problem.
Get it fixed before driving.
 Air brake check
 If the vehicle has air brakes, build air pressure
to 100-120 psi. Turn off the engine, release all
brakes.
 Press hard on the foot brake and hold down for
one minute.
 emergency exits—open and close correctly.
Check on both outside and inside.
 baggage compartment—door opens and closes
correctly and is secure.
 If you are driving a tractor trailer, also check:
 air/electrical lines—no leaks, cuts, cracks or signs
of wear; no tangles or dragging against tractor
parts; glad hands secure, or objects securely
bolted to tractor frame
 catwalk—clear and not loose
 all parts of the coupling system (5th wheel lower
plate, etc. you will not be able to see the lower
plate if the vehicle is hooked up)—loose or
missing mounting brackets, clamps, bolts or nuts;
5th wheel and slide mounting securely in place
 On combination vehicles, air pressure
should not drop over 4 psi.
 trailer-front side and rear (air/electrical
connections, header board, landing gear, etc.)
 On single vehicles, air pressure should not
drop over 3 psi.
 safety latch—in position over locking lever
 Turn ignition on
 With the foot brake, pump the air pressure
down. At about 60 psi, the low air light must
come on. A buzzer may sound as well. On older
vehicles, a wig-wam arm will fall in view of the
driver.
 Keep pumping air down with foot brake. At
about 40 psi, the parking brake knob and, if
applicable, the trailer parking brake knob should
pop out.
Failure to perform the air brake check during pre-trip
inspection will result in the automatic failure of the CDL
road skills exam.
V I R G I N I A
 platform—no cracks or breaks in platform
structure
 release arm—in engaged position and safety
latch in place
 kingpin/apron—kingpin not bent; apron lays flat
on 5th wheel skid plate; visible part of apron
is not bent, cracked or broken; locking jaws
completely closed around shank or kingpin
 sliding 5th wheel locking pins—in the locked
position; not broken or damaged
 lights and reflectors—not broken, lenses clear
and clean
Remember, semi-trailers cannot exceed a length of 53 feet.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 13
Section 1: General Knowledge
If you find anything unsafe during the pre-trip inspection,
get it fixed before you drive. It’s against federal and state
laws to operate an unsafe vehicle.
Inspection During the Trip
Test Tips
As part of the CDL road test, you must make a pre-trip
inspection of your vehicle. During your pre-trip inspection,
you must:
 Point to or touch each essential part of your vehicle.
 Name the part.
 Watch your gauges for signs of trouble.
 Explain what damage or problems you might find
with the part.
 Use your senses to check for problems. Look, listen,
smell, and feel.
 Check critical parts when you stop:
Your inspection must include the engine compartment,
inside cab, front, side, under and rear of the vehicle. When
you inspect the cab, you must also perform engine start-up
and air brake checks. Failure to perform the air brake check
will result in an automatic test failure.
 Tires, wheels and rims
 Brakes
 Lights and reflectors
 Brake and electrical connections to the trailer
An examiner will grade your inspection. You must receive
a passing grade before you continue with the basic vehicle
control and on-road exams.
 Trailer coupling devices
 Cargo covers and tiedowns
It’s a good idea to inspect your vehicle within the first 50
miles of the trip and also every 150 miles or every 3 hours
(whichever comes first).
Two backing maneuvers are required as part of the CDL
road test. You will be graded on:
 Using your horns and flashers
 Checking your mirrors
After-trip Inspection and Report
 Staying within the path
Inspect your vehicle at the end of the trip, day, or tour of
duty. If you find any problems, report them to your employer.
Additionally, whether or not you find problems, you must
complete a written report and sign it.
 Number of times you attempt the maneuver
 Cones
Buckle up on every trip. It’s the law.
14 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Inspection Study Guide
TRUCK/TRAILER (PINTLE HOOK)
Inside the Vehicle
(start engine)
Clutch/Gearshift
During the actual tests, you will be expected to point to or touch each
of the parts of your vehicle listed below. Name the part and explain
what damage or problems you might find. The types of damages or
problems are listed below and in the vehicle inspection section in the
CDL Manual.
If standard, check for excessive play in
clutch—no more than two inches. Check the
gear ranges to ensure they engage. Check
the boot for holes and dry rot. If automatic,
check gearshift for ranges.
Air Pressure Gauge
Note: All axles touching the ground on one side of the vehicle must
be inspected.
Check for cracks and cleanliness. Air pressure
should build to a minimum of 100 PSI in
both the primary and secondary system.
Oil Pressure Gauge
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Oil pressure should come up to normal
within seconds after the engine is started. If
no gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Amps/Volts should come up to normal within
seconds after the engine is started. If no
gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Air Brake
Build air pressure up to 100-120 PSI, cut
engine off and release all brakes, press hard
on the foot brake and hold down for one
minute, air pressure should not drop over
four PSI. Turn ignition key on and continue
with foot brake pumping air pressure down.
At around 60 PSI the “Low Air” buzzer
should sound and/or a warning light should
appear. Keep pumping air down with foot
brake, and at about 40 PSI, the release valves
should pop out for the trailer and the truck.
This study guide cannot be used during the actual pre-trip
inspection portion of the skills test.
Front of Vehicle
Lights
Check for proper color/clean lenses,
cracks, missing screws and condensation.
Also check for function, left/right turn
signals, headlights, high/low beam and
four-way flashers.
Steering Box
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks and
nonfactory welds. Check for steering fluid
leaks and torn or frayed hoses.
Steering Linkage
Check the steering column, pitman arm
and drag link for cracks, bends,
non-factory welds, missing castle
nuts/cotter pins and proper lubrication.
Engine Compartment
Oil Level
Check by pulling out the dipstick, wiping
it and reinserting it, then pull out to look
at the low and full marks to determine the
level.
Hydraulic Brake
(if equipped)
Pump the brake pedal three times, apply
firm pressure to the pedal and hold for five
seconds. The pedal should not move. If it
does, there may be a leak.
Coolant Level
Observe the site glass or line markings
for proper level. If not equipped, explain
removing radiator cap for level. (Do not
remove cap.)
Steering Play
Check steering wheel play of no more than
ten degrees (approximately two inches of
movement at the rim of a 20-inch steering
wheel).
Power Steering Fluid
Observe the sight glass or line markings for
proper level. If not equipped, open the
cap and check for proper level.
Parking Brake
Water Pump
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed belts
and coolant leaks.
Set the parking brake, put the vehicle in low
gear and gently release your foot from the
brake pedal (and clutch if equipped), until
you feel the vehicle pulling against the brake.
The vehicle should not move.
Mirrors/Windshield
Alternator
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed
belts, and cracked, burnt or loose wires.
Check mirrors for proper adjustment. Check
the windshield for cracks, cleanliness and
illegal stickers.
Wipers
Check the wipers for looseness, dry rot and
function.
Lighting Indicators
Check the following for function: panel
light, high/low beam indicator, left and right
turn signal indicators and four-way flasher
indicator.
Horns
Check both the highway and city horns for
proper function.
Heater/Defroster
Check both the defroster and heater fans for
proper function.
Air Compressor
Leaks
Hydraulic Brakes
(if equipped)
Check for missing/loose bolts. Check belts
for tension, cracked or frayed lines and
leaks.
Look under the engine compartment for
coolant, power steering, transmission and
oil leaks.
Check the site glass or line on container
for proper brake fluid. Check the master
cylinder for cracks, leaks, check the brake
lines for cracks, frays and brake fluid leaks.
This page is designed to be removed from the manual for reference while studying for the vehicle inspection
portion of the CDL road test.
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 15
Section 1: General Knowledge
Safety/Emergency
Equipment
Ensure working fire extinguisher properly
charged and mounted, spare electrical
fuses (unless equipped with circuit
breakers), three reflective triangles.
Under the Vehicle
Drive shaft
Check the drive shaft for cracks, non-factory
welds, missing/loose bolts or nuts and proper
lubrication.
Springs
Check for missing, cracked, shifted or bent
springs. If 1/4 or more are missing, your
vehicle could be put out of service.
Exhaust System
Check the exhaust system for cracks, holes,
missing/loose bolts and nuts. Check for signs
of soot, which can indicate an exhaust leak.
Spring Mount(s)
Check both mounts and the U bolts for
cracks, non-factory welds, missing or loose
bolts and nuts.
Frame
Check the vehicle frame for cracks, bends,
nonfactory welds and rust.
Rear Suspension
Shock Absorber
Check for cracks, leaks and missing bolts.
Inspect this area the same as the front.
Suspensions vary and all items should be
checked for cracks, bent, non-factory welds,
missing/loose bolts or nuts. Inspect walker
beams, torsion bars and air bellows, if
equipped.
Rear Wheels
Check the rear wheels the same as the front
with the exception of the tire depth, it should
be 2/32” in the major grooves. Check the
space between the dual tires. Tires should
not be touching and no sign of debris. If
equipped with spacers, they should not be
bent, cracked or nonfactory welds.
Rear Brakes
Inspect this area the same as the front of the
vehicle.
Truck Only
Check air and electrical lines for leaks,
cracks, signs of wear and proper connection.
Check catwalk (if equipped) to make sure it
is clear and not loose. Check all mounting
bolts to make sure none are missing and
are tight. Check safety latch to make sure it
is locked in place. Check the platform that
holds the pentle hook for cracks. Check that
the release latch is engaged and in place.
Check the pentle hook and ring to make sure
of no cracks, bends and closed completely
around ring. Check the chains to make sure
they are attached and locked. Check the
lights on the rear of truck for proper color,
clean lenses/reflectors and cracks, missing
screws and condensation. Also check for the
function of left/right turn signals, brake lights
and four-way flashers.
Front of Trailer
Check air and electrical lines for leaks,
cracks, signs of wear and proper connection.
Check headerboard for cracks and bends.
Check lights and reflectors same as others.
Side of Trailer
Check landing gear for cracks, bends, fully
raised and handle secure. Check lights/
reflectors same as others. Check doors
(if equipped) are secure and not missing
hardware. Check tie downs (if equipped)
for cracks, bends, secure and no missing
hardware. Check the frame for cracks, bends,
non-factory welds and rust.
Wheels, Suspension,
and Brakes
Inspect area same as rear of truck.
Rear of Trailer
Check lights/reflectors same as others. Check
doors/ties same as others. Check splash
guards are secure, no missing hardware.
Front Suspension
Front Wheel
Rims
Check the rims for bends, cracks and
nonfactory welds.
Hub Seal
Check the hub oil seal for missing bolts,
cracks, leaks and proper level (if equipped
with site glass).
Tire
Check the tire for at least 4/32” tread
depth in the major grooves. Check for
cuts, bulges and proper air pressure using
an air gauge.
Lug Nuts
Check the lug nuts for missing, loose nuts
and rust around them.
Front Brakes
Slack Adjuster
Check the slack adjuster for missing cotter
pins. If the slack adjuster moves more than
one inch where the push rod attaches to
it, it probably needs to be adjusted. Slack
adjusters should not be at more than a
90-degree angle with the brakes applied.
Chambers
Check the chambers for cracks, dents and
air leaks.
Air Hose
Check the hoses for loose connections, dry
rot, holes and air leaks.
Brake Drum
Check the drum for cracks, non-factory
welds and signs of grease or oil.
Hydraulic Brakes
(if equipped)
Check the rotor for cracks, non-factory
welds and signs of fluid leaks. Check the
lines for cuts, holes, loose connections and
fluid leaks. Check the calipers for cracks,
missing/loose bolts and fluid leaks.
Driver/Fuel Area
Door
Check the door for cracked or bent hinges
and that it functions properly.
Mirrors
Check the mirrors for cracks, cleanliness
and missing/loose bolts/nuts.
Fuel Tank
Check the fuel tank for cracks, holes and
that the straps are not loose or cracked.
Shiny metal by straps could indicate a
loose strap. Check under fuel tank for
leaks.
16 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Inspection Study Guide
STRAIGHT TRUCK/SCHOOL BUS
During the actual tests, you will be expected to point to or touch each
of the parts of your vehicle listed below. Name the part and explain
what damage or problems you might find. The types of damages or
problems are listed below and in the vehicle inspection section in the
CDL Manual.
Note: All axles touching the ground on one side of the vehicle must
be inspected.
Inside the Vehicle
(start engine)
Clutch/Gearshift
If standard, check for excessive play in
clutch – no more than two inches. Check the
gear ranges to ensure they engage. Check
the boot for holes and dry rot. If automatic,
check gearshift for ranges.
Air Pressure Gauge
Check for cracks and cleanliness. Air pressure
should build to a minimum of 100 PSI in
both the primary and secondary system.
Oil Pressure Gauge
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Oil pressure should come up to normal
within seconds after the engine is started. If
no gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Amps/Volts should come up to normal within
seconds after the engine is started. If no
gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Air Brake
Build air pressure up to 100-120 PSI, cut
engine off and release all brakes, press hard
on the foot brake and hold down for one
minute, air pressure should not drop over
four PSI. Turn ignition key on and continue
with foot brake pumping air pressure down.
At around 60 PSI the “Low Air” buzzer
should sound and/or a warning light should
appear. Keep pumping air down with foot
brake, and at about 40 PSI, the release valves
should pop out for the trailer and the truck.
Hydraulic Brake
(if equipped)
Pump the brake pedal three times, apply
firm pressure to the pedal and hold for five
seconds. The pedal should not move. If it
does, there may be a leak.
Steering Play
Check steering wheel play of no more than
ten degrees (approximately two inches of
movement at the rim of a 20-inch steering
wheel).
Parking Brake
Set the parking brake, put the vehicle in low
gear and gently release your foot from the
brake pedal (and clutch if equipped), until
you feel the vehicle pulling against the brake.
The vehicle should not move.
Mirrors/Windshield
Check mirrors for proper adjustment. Check
the windshield for cracks, cleanliness and
illegal stickers.
Wipers
Check the wipers for looseness, dry rot and
function.
Lighting Indicators
Check the following for function: panel
light, high/low beam indicator, left and right
turn signal indicators and four-way flasher
indicator.
Horns
Check both the highway and city horns for
proper function.
Heater/Defroster
Check both the defroster and heater fans for
proper function.
This study guide cannot be used during the actual pre-trip
inspection portion of the skills test.
Front of Vehicle
Lights
Check for proper color/clean lenses,
cracks, missing screws and condensation.
Also check for function, left/right turn
signals, headlights, high/low beam and
four-way flashers.
Steering Box
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks and
nonfactory welds. Check for steering fluid
leaks and torn or frayed hoses.
Steering Linkage
Check the steering column, pitman arm
and drag link for cracks, bends,
non-factory welds, missing castle
nuts/cotter pins and proper lubrication.
Engine Compartment
Oil Level
Check by pulling out the dipstick, wiping
it and reinserting it, then pull out to look
at the low and full marks to determine the
level.
Coolant Level
Observe the site glass or line markings
for proper level. If not equipped, explain
removing radiator cap for level. (Do not
remove cap.)
Power Steering Fluid
Observe the sight glass or line markings for
proper level. If not equipped, open the
cap and check for proper level.
Water Pump
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed belts
and coolant leaks.
Alternator
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed
belts, and cracked, burnt or loose wires.
Air Compressor
Check for missing/loose bolts. Check belts
for tension, cracked or frayed lines and
leaks.
Leaks
Look under the engine compartment for
coolant, power steering, transmission and
oil leaks.
Hydraulic Brakes
(if equipped)
Check the site glass or line on container
for proper brake fluid. Check the master
cylinder for cracks, leaks, check the brake
lines for cracks, frays and brake fluid leaks.
This page is designed to be removed from the manual for reference while studying for the vehicle inspection
portion of the CDL road test.
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 17
Section 1: General Knowledge
Safety/Emergency
Equipment
Ensure working fire extinguisher properly
charged and mounted, spare electrical
fuses (unless equipped with circuit
breakers), three reflective triangles.
Under the Vehicle
Drive shaft
Check the drive shaft for cracks, non-factory
welds, missing/loose bolts or nuts and proper
lubrication.
Springs
Check for missing, cracked, shifted or bent
springs. If 1/4 or more are missing, your
vehicle could be put out of service.
Exhaust System
Check the exhaust system for cracks, holes,
missing/loose bolts and nuts. Check for signs
of soot, which can indicate an exhaust leak.
Spring Mount(s)
Check both mounts and the U bolts for
cracks, non-factory welds, missing or loose
bolts and nuts.
Frame
Check the vehicle frame for cracks, bends,
nonfactory welds and rust.
Shock Absorber
Check for cracks, leaks and missing bolts.
Front Suspension
Front Wheel
Rims
Check the rims for bends, cracks and
nonfactory welds.
Hub Seal
Check the hub oil seal for missing bolts,
cracks, leaks and proper level (if equipped
with site glass).
Tire
Check the tire for at least 4/32” tread
depth in the major grooves. Check for
cuts, bulges and proper air pressure using
an air gauge.
Lug Nuts
Check the lug nuts for missing, loose nuts
and rust around them.
Front Brakes
Rear of Vehicle
Rear Wheels
Check the rear wheels the same as the front
with the exception of the tire depth, it should
be 2/32” in the major grooves. Check the
space between the dual tires. Tires should
not be touching and no sign of debris. If
equipped with spacers, they should not be
bent, cracked or nonfactory welds.
Rear Suspension
Inspect this area the same as the front.
Suspensions vary and all items should
be checked for cracks, bent, non-factory
welds, missing/loose bolts or nuts. Inspect
walker beams, torsion bars and air bellows,
if equipped.
Rear Brakes
Inspect this area the same as the front of the
vehicle.
Rear Lights
Check for proper color and clean
lenses/reflectors, cracks, missing screws and
condensation. Also check for function of
left/right turn signals, brake lights, reverse
lights and four way flashers.
Slack Adjuster
Check the slack adjuster for missing cotter
pins. If the slack adjuster moves more than
one inch where the push rod attaches to
it, it probably needs to be adjusted. Slack
adjusters should not be at more than a
90-degree angle with the brakes applied.
Chambers
Check the chambers for cracks, dents and
air leaks.
If Passenger Vehicle
Also Inspect:
Air Hose
Check the hoses for loose connections, dry
rot, holes and air leaks.
Passenger Entry
Brake Drum
Check the drum for cracks, non-factory
welds and signs of grease or oil.
Check that steps and handrails secure, no
missing hardware, no worn matting, door
opens and closes correctly.
Seating
Hydraulic Brakes
(if equipped)
Check the rotor for cracks, non-factory
welds and signs of fluid leaks. Check the
lines for cuts, holes, loose connections and
fluid leaks. Check the calipers for cracks,
missing/loose bolts and fluid leaks.
Check that all seats are secure with no
missing hardware.
Emergency Exits
Check the function of all exits both inside
and out, including all warning devices.
Baggage Compartment
(if equipped)
Check that doors open and close correctly
and are secure with no missing hardware.
Driver/Fuel Area
Door
Check the door for cracked or bent hinges
and that it functions properly.
Mirrors
Check the mirrors for cracks, cleanliness
and missing/loose bolts/nuts.
Fuel Tank
Check the fuel tank for cracks, holes and
that the straps are not loose or cracked.
Shiny metal by straps could indicate a
loose strap. Check under fuel tank for
leaks.
18 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Inspection Study Guide
COACH/TRANSIT BUS
During the actual tests, you will be expected to point to or touch each
of the parts of your vehicle listed below. Name the part and explain
what damage or problems you might find. The types of damages or
problems are listed below and in the vehicle inspection section in the
CDL Manual.
Inside the Vehicle
(continued)
Oil Pressure Gauge
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Oil pressure should come up to normal
within seconds after the engine is started. If
no gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Amps/Volts should come up to normal within
seconds after the engine is started. If no
gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Air Brake
Build air pressure up to 100-120 PSI, cut
engine off and release all brakes, press hard
on the foot brake and hold down for one
minute, air pressure should not drop over
three PSI. Turn ignition key on and continue
with foot brake pumping air pressure down.
At around 60 PSI the “Low Air” buzzer
should sound and/or a warning light should
appear. Keep pumping air down with foot
brake, and at about 40 PSI, the parking brake
knob should pop out.
Steering Play
Check steering wheel play of no more than
ten degrees (approximately two inches of
movement at the rim of a 20-inch steering
wheel).
Parking Brake
Set the parking brake, put the vehicle in low
gear and gently release your foot from the
brake pedal (and clutch if equipped), until
you feel the vehicle pulling against the brake.
The vehicle should not move.
Mirrors/Windshield
Check mirrors for proper adjustment. Check
the windshield for cracks, cleanliness and
illegal stickers.
Wipers
Check the wipers for looseness, dry rot and
function.
Lighting Indicators
Check the following for function: panel
light, high/low beam indicator, left and right
turn signal indicators and four-way flasher
indicator.
Note: All axles touching the ground on one side of the vehicle must
be inspected.
This study guide cannot be used during the actual pre-trip
inspection portion of the skills test.
Front of Vehicle
Lights
Check for proper color/clean lenses,
cracks, missing screws and condensation.
Also check for function, left/right turn
signals, headlights, high/low beam and
four-way flashers.
Engine Compartment
Oil Level
Check by pulling out the dipstick, wiping
it and reinserting it, then pull out to look
at the low and full marks to determine the
level.
Coolant Level
Observe the site glass or line markings
for proper level. If not equipped, explain
removing radiator cap for level. (Do not
remove cap.)
Power Steering Fluid
Observe the sight glass or line markings for
proper level. If not equipped, open the
cap and check for proper level.
Water Pump
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed belts
and coolant leaks.
Alternator
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed
belts, and cracked, burnt or loose wires.
Air Compressor
Check for missing/loose bolts. Check belts
for tension, cracked or frayed lines and
leaks.
Horns
Check both the highway and city horns for
proper function.
Look under the engine compartment for
coolant, power steering, transmission and
oil leaks.
Heater/Defroster
Check both the defroster and heater fans for
proper function.
Safety/Emergency
Equipment
Ensure working fire extinguisher properly
charged and mounted, spare electrical fuses
(unless equipped with circuit breakers), three
reflective triangles.
Front Suspension/
Air Brakes
Listen for air leaks in the brakes and in the
suspension.
Leaks
Inside the Vehicle
(start engine)
Clutch/Gearshift
Air Pressure Gauge
If standard, check for excessive play in
clutch – no more than two inches. Check
the gear ranges to ensure they engage.
Check the boot for holes and dry rot. If
automatic, check gearshift for ranges.
Check for cracks and cleanliness. Air
pressure should build to a minimum of
100 PSI in both the primary and secondary
system.
This page is designed to be removed from the manual for reference while studying for the vehicle inspection
portion of the CDL road test.
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 19
Section 1: General Knowledge
Front Wheels
Rims
Check the rims for bends, cracks and
nonfactory welds.
Hub Seal
Check the hub oil seal for missing bolts,
cracks, leaks and proper level (if equipped
with site glass).
Tire
Check the tire for at least 4/32” tread
depth in the major grooves. Check for cuts,
bulges and proper air pressure using an air
gauge. Cannot have recaps or retreads.
Lug Nuts
Check the lug nuts for missing, loose nuts
and rust around them.
Driver/Fuel Area
Door/Window
Check the door for cracked or bent hinges
and that it functions properly.
Mirrors
Check the mirrors for cracks, cleanliness
and missing/loose bolts/nuts.
Fuel Area
Check cap is tight and no fuel leaks.
Rear of Vehicle
Rear Wheels
Check the rear wheels the same as the
front with the exception of the tire depth,
it should be 2/32” in the major grooves.
Check the space between the dual tires.
Tires should not be touching and no sign
of debris. If equipped with spacers, they
should not be bent, cracked or nonfactory
welds.
Rear Suspension/
Air Brakes
Inspect the same as the front.
Lights
Check for proper color and clean
lenses/reflectors, cracks, missing screws
and condensation. Also check for function
of left/right turn signals, brake lights,
reverse lights and four-way flashers.
Passenger Entry
Steps and handrails secure, no missing
hardware, no worn matting, door opens
and closes correctly.
Seating
Check that all seats are secure with no
missing hardware.
Emergency Exits
Check the function of all exits both inside
and out, including all warning devices.
Baggage Compartments
(if equipped)
Check that doors open and close correctly
and are secure with no missing hardware.
20 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Department of Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Inspection Study Guide
COMBINATION VEHICLES
During the actual tests, you will be expected to point to or touch each
of the parts of your vehicle listed below. Name the part and explain
what damage or problems you might find. The types of damages or
problems are listed below and in the vehicle inspection section in the
CDL Manual.
Note: All axles touching the ground on one side of the vehicle must
be inspected.
Inside the Vehicle
(start engine)
Clutch/Gearshift
If standard, check for excessive play in
clutch—no more than two inches. Check the
gear ranges to ensure they engage. Check
the boot for holes and dry rot. If automatic,
check gearshift for ranges.
Air Pressure Gauge
Check for cracks and cleanliness. Air pressure
should build to a minimum of 100 PSI in
both the primary and secondary system.
Oil Pressure Gauge
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Oil pressure should come up to normal
within seconds after the engine is started. If
no gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
Check the gauge for cracks and cleanliness.
Amps/Volts should come up to normal within
seconds after the engine is started. If no
gauge, identify the location of the warning
light that indicates a system failure.
Air Brake
Build air pressure up to 100-120 PSI, cut
engine off and release all brakes, press hard
on the foot brake and hold down for one
minute, air pressure should not drop over
four PSI. Turn ignition key on and continue
with foot brake pumping air pressure down.
At around 60 PSI the “Low Air” buzzer
should sound and/or a warning light should
appear. Keep pumping air down with foot
brake, and at about 40 PSI, the release valves
should pop out for the trailer and the tractor.
Hydraulic Brake
(if equipped)
Pump the brake pedal three times, apply
firm pressure to the pedal and hold for five
seconds. The pedal should not move. If it
does, there may be a leak.
Steering Play
Check steering wheel play of no more than
ten degrees (approximately two inches of
movement at the rim of a 20-inch steering
wheel).
Parking Brake
Set the parking brake, put the vehicle in low
gear and gently release your foot from the
brake pedal (and clutch if equipped), until
you feel the vehicle pulling against the brake.
The vehicle should not move.
Mirrors/Windshield
Check mirrors for proper adjustment. Check
the windshield for cracks, cleanliness and
illegal stickers.
Wipers
Check the wipers for looseness, dry rot and
function.
Lighting Indicators
Check the following for function: panel
light, high/low beam indicator, left and right
turn signal indicators and four-way flasher
indicator.
Horns
Check both the highway and city horns for
proper function.
Heater/Defroster
Check both the defroster and heater fans for
proper function.
This study guide cannot be used during the actual pre-trip
inspection portion of the skills test.
Front of Vehicle
Lights
Check for proper color/clean lenses,
cracks, missing screws and condensation.
Also check for function, left/right turn
signals, headlights, high/low beam and
four-way flashers.
Steering Box
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks and
nonfactory welds. Check for steering fluid
leaks and torn or frayed hoses.
Steering Linkage
Check the steering column, pitman arm
and drag link for cracks, bends,
non-factory welds, missing castle
nuts/cotter pins and proper lubrication.
Engine Compartment
Oil Level
Check by pulling out the dipstick, wiping
it and reinserting it, then pull out to look
at the low and full marks to determine the
level.
Coolant Level
Observe the site glass or line markings
for proper level. If not equipped, explain
removing radiator cap for level. (Do not
remove cap.)
Power Steering Fluid
Observe the sight glass or line markings for
proper level. If not equipped, open the
cap and check for proper level.
Water Pump
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed belts
and coolant leaks.
Alternator
Check for missing/loose bolts, cracks,
proper belt tension, cracked or frayed
belts, and cracked, burnt or loose wires.
Air Compressor
Check for missing/loose bolts. Check belts
for tension, cracked or frayed lines and
leaks.
Leaks
Look under the engine compartment for
coolant, power steering, transmission and
oil leaks.
Hydraulic Brakes
(if equipped)
Check the site glass or line on container
for proper brake fluid. Check the master
cylinder for cracks, leaks, check the brake
lines for cracks, frays and brake fluid leaks.
This page is designed to be removed from the manual for reference while studying for the vehicle inspection
portion of the CDL road test.
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 21
Section 1: General Knowledge
Safety/Emergency
Equipment
Ensure working fire extinguisher properly
charged and mounted, spare electrical fuses
(unless equipped with circuit breakers),
three reflective triangles.
Coupling System
Check for loose or missing bolts, clamps,
brackets or nuts.
Mounting Bolts
Check for loose or missing nuts or bolts.
Front Suspension
Check for missing, cracked, shifted or bent
springs. If 1/4 or more are missing, your
vehicle could be put out of service.
Safety Latch
Ensure it is in position over locking lever and
engaged.
Platform
Check for cracks or breaks.
Spring Mount(s)
Check both mounts and the U bolts for
cracks, non-factory welds, missing or loose
bolts and nuts.
Release Arm
Ensure it is locked in place.
Kingpin/Apron
Ensure the kingpin is not bent, apron is not
bent, cracked or broken. Locking jaws are
closed around kingpin.
Sliding Fifth Wheel
Ensure it is in locked position, not cracked or
broken.
Locking Pins
Check for loose or missing pins. None broken/
damaged.
Lights/Reflector
Ensure it is not cracked, lenses clear, clean,
proper color, no condensation. Check for
function, left/right turn signal, four-way
flashers and brake.
Shock Absorber
Check for cracks, leaks and missing bolts.
Front Wheels
Rims
Check the rims for bends, cracks and
nonfactory welds.
Hub Seal
Check the hub oil seal for missing bolts,
cracks, leaks and proper level (if equipped
with site glass).
Tire
Check the tire for at least 4/32” tread depth
in the major grooves. Check for cuts, bulges
and proper air pressure using an air gauge.
Lug Nuts
Check the lug nuts for missing, loose nuts
and rust around them.
Rear of Vehicle
Rear Wheels
Check the rear wheels the same as the front
with the exception of the tire depth, it should
be 2/32” in the major grooves. Check the
space between the dual tires. Tires should not
be touching and no sign of debris. If equipped
with spacers, they should not be bent, cracked
or non-factory welds.
Rear Suspension
Inspect this area the same as the front.
Suspensions vary and all items should be
checked for cracks, bent, non-factory welds,
missing/loose bolts or nuts. Inspect walker
beams, torsion bars and air bellows, if
equipped.
Rear Brakes
Inspect this area the same as the front of the
vehicle.
Front Brakes
Slack Adjuster
Check the slack adjuster for missing cotter
pins. If the slack adjuster moves more than
one inch where the push rod attaches to
it, it probably needs to be adjusted. Slack
adjusters should not be at more than a
90-degree angle with the brakes applied.
Chambers
Check the chambers for cracks, dents and
air leaks.
Air Hose
Check the hoses for loose connections, dry
rot, holes and air leaks.
Brake Drum
Check the drum for cracks, non-factory
welds and signs of grease or oil.
Hydraulic Brakes
(if equipped)
Check the rotor for cracks, non-factory
welds and signs of fluid leaks. Check the
lines for cuts, holes, loose connections and
fluid leaks. Check the calipers for cracks,
missing/loose bolts and fluid leaks.
Driver/Fuel Area
Front of Trailer
Air/Electric Lines
Ensure glad hands are secure and rubber
seals not split, cracked or missing, electrical
connection locked into place.
Header Board
Ensure it is not cracked or bulged.
Lights/Reflectors
Ensure it is not cracked, clear, clean, proper
color, no condensation. Check for function.
Door
Check the door for cracked or bent hinges
and that it functions properly.
Mirrors
Check the mirrors for cracks, cleanliness
and missing/loose bolts/nuts.
Landing Gear
Check for missing, bent or cracked frames.
Handle secured.
Fuel Tank
Check the fuel tank for cracks, holes and
that the straps are not loose or cracked.
Shiny metal by straps could indicate a loose
strap. Check under fuel tank for leaks.
Lights/Reflectors
Ensure it is not cracked, clear, clean, proper
color, no condensation. Check for function.
Doors, Ties
Ensure it opens and closes properly, hinges not
cracked, ties not broken or missing.
Frame
Ensure it is not bent or cracked, non-factory
welds.
Wheels
Check same as rear wheels.
Suspension
Check the same as front suspension.
Brakes
Check same as front brakes.
Under the Vehicle
Drive shaft
Exhaust System
Frame
Check the drive shaft for cracks, non-factory
welds, missing/loose bolts or nuts and
proper lubrication.
Check the exhaust system for cracks, holes,
missing/loose bolts and nuts. Check for signs
of soot, which can indicate an exhaust leak.
Check the vehicle frame for cracks, bends,
nonfactory welds and rust.
Side of Trailer
Rear of Trailer
Lights/Reflectors
Ensure it is not cracked, lenses clear, clean,
proper color, no condensation. Check for
function same as rear of tractor.
Door/Ties
Ensure it opens and closes properly, hinges not
cracked, ties not broken or missing.
Splash Guards
Ensure it is secured, no nuts or bolts missing.
Tractor Only
Air/Electrical Lines
Check for leaks, cuts, cracks or sign of wear.
Catwalk
Check to make sure it is clear and not loose.
22 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
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 skills in:
view of the rear of the truck and where the driver can
see the helper. If you lose sight of the helper, stop.
He may be in a place of danger. Before you begin
backing, agree on hand signals that you both
understand.
 Accelerating
Backing with a Trailer
 Steering
 Shifting gears
Be sure to apply the parking brake when you leave your
vehicle.
Accelerating
 Partly engage the clutch before taking your foot off the
brake.
 Use the parking brake to keep from rolling back.
Release it only when you have enough power to keep
from rolling back.
 Speed up smoothly and gradually so the vehicle does
not jerk. Sudden acceleration can cause mechanical
damage. If you are pulling a trailer, sudden acceleration
can damage the coupling.
 Speed up slowly when traction is poor, such as in rain
or snow. If you use too much power, the drive wheels
spin. If the drive wheels spin, let up on the accelerator.
Steering
 Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands.
 Your hands should be at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock
position on the steering wheel.
 When backing a car, straight truck or bus, you turn the
top of the steering wheel in the direction that you want
to go. When backing a trailer, 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.
 When you back 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.
 Use both mirrors. The mirrors help you see if the trailer
is staying on the proper path. Correct the trailer’s path
by turning the top of the steering wheel in the direction
of the drift.
 Pull forward. Make pull-ups to reposition your vehicle
as needed.
Shifting Gears—Manual Transmissions
Basic method for shifting up: Most heavy vehicles with
manual transmissions require double clutching to change
gears. This is the basic method:
 Release the accelerator. Push in the clutch and shift to
neutral.
 Release the clutch
 Let the engine and gears slow to the RPM required for
the next gear. (This takes practice.)
 Push in the clutch and shift to the higher gear.
Backing Safely
Because you cannot see everything behind your vehicle,
backing is always dangerous. Avoid backing whenever you
can. When you must back, follow these safety rules:
 Look at your path before you begin backing. Get out
of the vehicle and check your clearance to the sides
and overhead.
 Turn on four-way flashers and blow the horn before
backing.
 Back slowly. Use the lowest reverse gear.
 Back and turn toward the driver’s side. This allows
you to see better. 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 extra safety is worth it.
 Use a helper. A helper can check your blind spots for
you. The helper should stand where he or she has a
V I R G I N I A
 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 trouble putting
the vehicle into the next gear. Don’t try to force it. Return to
neutral, release the clutch, increase engine speed to match
road speed and try again.
There are two ways to know when to shift up:
 Engine speed (RPM). Study the 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.
 Road speed (MPH). Learn the speeds that each gear is
good for. Then you can use the speedometer to know
when to shift up.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 23
Section 1: General Knowledge
red triangle with an orange center. Be especially careful when
driving through work zones.
Basic method for shifting down:
 Downshifting requires knowing when to shift. Use
either the tachometer or the speedometer to decide
when to downshift.
Looking ahead doesn’t mean that you aren’t paying attention
to other things going on around you. Good drivers shift their
attention back and forth, near and far.
 Take your foot off the accelerator. Push in the clutch
and shift to neutral.
 Release the clutch.
 Press the accelerator. Increase engine and gear speed to
the RPM required in the lower gear.
 Push in the clutch and shift to the lower gear at the
same time.
 Release the clutch and press the accelerator at the same
time.
You should downshift:
 Before starting down a hill: Slow down and shift down
to a speed that you can control without using the brakes
hard. Make sure your gear is low enough. Usually you
will use a lower gear than you would use to climb the
same hill.
 Before entering a curve: Slow down to a safe speed.
Downshift before you enter the curve. This helps you
control your vehicle while turning. You can begin to
accelerate as you leave the curve
Retarders (Jake brake)—Electric or Hydraulic
Retarders help slow a vehicle so that you don’t need to use
your brakes as much. This reduces brake wear and gives you
another way to slow your vehicle. All retarders can be turned
on or off by the driver. When turned on, retarders apply their
braking power whenever you take your foot completely off
the accelerator. They apply braking power only to the drive
wheels.
If your drive wheels have poor traction, the retarder may
cause them to skid. Always turn off the retarder when the
road is wet, icy or covered with snow, especially if the unit is
empty or lightly loaded.
Seeing
Look in your mirrors to check the traffic around you and to
check your vehicle. Check your mirrors when you change
lanes, turn or merge. Check your mirrors quickly and return
your attention to the road ahead.
Use your mirrors to check your tires. If you are carrying open
cargo, use the mirrors to check it. Look for loose straps, ropes
or chains. Watch for a flapping or ballooning tarp.
Blind spots are danger areas, which cannot be seen in your
mirrors. Therefore, many vehicles have curved mirrors that
show a wider area than flat mirrors. Remember, everything in
a curved mirror appears smaller than it really is. Objects also
seem farther away than they really are.
Always make mirror adjustments before you start your trip.
Mirrors can only be checked accurately when the trailer(s) is
straight.
Communicating
It is important to know what is going on around your vehicle.
But, it is also important to let others know what you are
doing. Use your vehicle to communicate with other drivers.
You can communicate with your headlights, brake lights,
signal lights and horn.
 Signal early.
 Signal before you turn, merge or change lanes.
 Brake early and slow gradually for turns.
Look Ahead
Because stopping or changing lanes may take a lot of
distance, you must know what the traffic is doing on all sides
of you. Expert drivers look far ahead so they will know how
much room they have to move. They try to focus their eyes
12 to 15 seconds ahead. In the city, this equals approximately
one block. On the highway, this equals approximately ¼
of a mile. When you scan ahead, check for traffic, road
conditions, sharp pavement drop-offs and signs. Also look for
slow-moving vehicles. These vehicles may be marked with a
V I R G I N I A
Use Your Mirrors
Signal Ahead
To be a safe driver, you need to know what’s going on all
around your vehicle.
24 |
Remember you’re the expert. Anticipate trouble and
leave yourself a place to go if a hazard appears suddenly.
A hazard is anyone or anything that can cause an unsafe
condition. The best drivers are defensive and prepared
for hazards.
C O M M E R C I A L
 Flash your brake lights to warn other drivers that you
need to slow down or stop. Don’t stop suddenly.
 Turn off your signal after you make the turn, merge or
lane change.
 Use your 4-way emergency flashers when moving
slowly or when you are parked.
 Don’t signal other drivers to pass you. This could cause
a crash.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Pass with Caution
 Check your side mirrors for traffic approaching you
from behind.
 Check ahead. Do you have sufficient room to pass?
 Use your turn signal.
Place a warning device before any hill, curve or anything else
that prevents other drivers from seeing your vehicle with 500
feet.
When you place the triangles, hold them between yourself
and the oncoming traffic. This helps ensure your safety.
 Just before you begin passing, check your mirrors and
blind spots once more for approaching traffic.
Communicate Your Presence to Others
 Don’t assume that other drivers, bicyclists, or
pedestrians can see or hear your vehicle.
 Use your low beam headlights at dawn and dusk. Use
your low beam headlights in fog, rain or snow so other
drivers will see you.
 When you pass, tap your horn lightly.
 Use your horn only when needed. Otherwise, your
horn may scare others.
 When you stop on the side of the road:
 Turn on your 4-way emergency flashers.
 Place reflective triangles or flares within 10
minutes of stopping. Place them as shown in the
following diagrams.
If you stop on a road or the shoulder of any road, you must
put out emergency warning devices (reflective triangles or
flares) within 10 minutes. Place the warning devices in the
following locations.
Managing Space
To be a safe driver, you need space all around your vehicle.
When something goes wrong, space gives you time to think
and to take action. While this is true for all vehicles, it is very
important for large vehicles. Large vehicles require more
space for stopping and turning.
Space Ahead
On two-lane roads carrying traffic in both directions or on
an undivided highway, place warning devices within ten feet
of the front or rear corners of your vehicle. Place a warning
device 100 feet behind or ahead of your vehicle. Place it on
the shoulder or in the lane where you stopped.
You need space in front of you in case you must stop
suddenly. In crashes, trucks and buses most often hit the
vehicle in front of them. This is because they were following
too closely. If the vehicle ahead of you is smaller than your
vehicle, it can probably stop faster than you can. If you follow
too closely, you could hit it if the driver stops suddenly.
The rule of seconds
 If you are driving below 40 mph, maintain at least one
second for each 10 feet of vehicle length.
 At speeds over 40 mph, add an extra second for safety.
Here’s how it works.
 Watch the vehicle ahead pass a fixed point, such as an
overpass, sign, fence, corner or other marker.
 Begin counting off the seconds it takes you to reach the
same place in the road.
On a one-way or divided highway, place warning devices 10
feet, 100 feet and 200 feet behind your vehicle.
V I R G I N I A
 If you reach the mark before you have counted off
the correct number of seconds, you’re following
too closely. Slow down and increase your following
distance.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 25
Section 1: General Knowledge
Examples:
 If you are driving a 40-foot vehicle at speeds under 40
mph, leave 4 seconds between you and the vehicle
ahead. One second for each 10 feet of vehicle length
= 1X4 or 4 seconds.
 If you are driving a 40-foot vehicle at speeds over 40
mph, leave 5 seconds between you and the vehicle
ahead. One second for each 10 feet of vehicle length
plus an additional second for safety: 1X4 = 4 plus an
extra second for safety = 5 seconds.
 If you are driving a 60-foot vehicle at speeds under 40
mph, leave 6 seconds between you and the vehicle
ahead. One second for each 10 feet of vehicle length
= 1X6 or 6 seconds.
 If you are driving a 60-foot vehicle at speeds over 40
mph, leave 7 seconds between you and the vehicle
ahead. One second for each 10 feet of vehicle length
plus an additional second for safety: 1X6 = 6 plus an
extra second for safety = 7 seconds.
Remember, the rule of seconds applies only in good
weather and depends on the condition of your vehicle and
the road. In bad weather, heavy traffic, poor pavement or
if your vehicle is in poor condition, add extra seconds to
your following distance.
Space Behind
 High winds may cause your vehicle to sway. This
problem is worse for lighter vehicles, such as empty
trucks. High winds may be especially bad coming out of
tunnels.
Space Overhead
Because commercial vehicles are larger than most vehicles,
watch out for overhead objects. Make sure you always have
overhead clearance.
 The weight of a loaded vehicle changes its height. An
empty vehicle is taller than a loaded one.
 Before backing, get out of the vehicle and check for
overhanging objects such as trees, branches or electric
wires. It’s easy to miss these things when backing.
 Don’t assume that the heights posted at bridges and
overpasses are correct. Repaving or packed snow may
have reduced the clearance since the signs were posted.
 If you are not sure that you have space to pass under
an object, take another route.
Space for Turns
Because of wide turning and offtracking, large vehicles can hit
other vehicles or objects during turns.
Definition: Trailer wheels follow a different path than the
tractor wheels. This is called offtracking.
You can’t keep other drivers from following you too closely.
But you can take action to increase your safety.
Stay to the right. Drivers often tailgate when heavy vehicles
can’t keep up with traffic. If a heavy load slows you down,
stay in the right lane. If you are going uphill, do not pass other
slow vehicles unless you can pass quickly and safely.
Deal with tailgaters safely.
 Avoid quick changes. Before you slow down or turn,
signal early and reduce your speed gradually.
 Increase your following distance. Extra space in front of
your vehicle can help you avoid sudden stops. It also
makes it easier for the tailgater to pass you.
When turning right:
 Turn slowly to give yourself and others time to avoid
problems.
 If you cannot make the right turn without swinging into
another lane, turn wide as you complete the turn. Refer
to the diagram. Keep the rear of your vehicle close to
the curb. This will stop other drivers from passing you
on the right.
 Don’t speed up. It’s safer to be tailgated at a low speed
than at a high speed.
 Avoid tricks. Don’t turn on your tail lights or flash your
brake lights.
Space to the Sides
 Keep your vehicle centered in the lane and maintain
safe clearance on either side.
 Avoid traveling beside other vehicles. In heavy traffic,
keep as much space as possible between your vehicle
and other vehicles. If you must travel alongside another
vehicle, drop back or pull forward so that you are sure
the other driver can see you.
26 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
 Don’t turn to the left as you start the turn. The driver
behind you may think you are turning left and try to
pass you on the right.
 If you must cross into an oncoming lane to make a turn,
watch out for vehicles coming toward you. Give them
room to pass or stop. However, don’t back up for them.
You could hit the vehicle behind you.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
 Braking distance is the distance it takes the vehicle
to stop once you hit the brakes. At 55 mph on dry
pavement, it takes a vehicle with good brakes about 2.5
seconds to stop. Within that time, the vehicle will travel
another 192 feet.
When turning left:
 Reach the
center of the
intersection
before you
begin your
turn. If you turn
too soon, your
vehicle could
hit another
vehicle because
of offtracking.
 Total stopping distance; traveling at 55 mph, it will
take about 4 seconds to stop your vehicle. The vehicle
will travel approximately 312 feet before coming to a
stop. That’s longer than the length of a football field.
 If there are two
lanes, always
use the right turn lane. Don’t begin a left turn in the left
lane because you may have to swing right to complete
the turn. You can see drivers on your left easier than
those on your right.
Space to Cross or Enter Traffic
Keep these points in mind when crossing or entering traffic:
 Because commercial vehicles are larger and accelerate
more slowly than passenger cars, you may need a much
larger gap to enter traffic.
 Acceleration varies with your load. Allow more room if
your vehicle is fully loaded.
 Before you begin across a road, make sure you can get
all the way across before traffic reaches you.
Controlling Speed
Driving too fast is a major cause of crashes and fatalities. You
must adjust your speed to suit weather conditions, the road
(such as hills and curves), visibility and traffic.
Speed and Stopping
 When you double your speed, it takes four times as
much distance to stop your vehicle; your vehicle will
have four times the destructive power in a crash.
 You can’t steer or brake a vehicle unless you have
traction. Traction is the friction between the tires and
the road. Reduce your speed on wet and slippery roads.
Three things add up to total stopping distance.
Perception distance
Reaction distance
 Wet roads can double stopping distance. Reduce your
speed by about 1/3 on a wet road. For example slow
down from 55 mph to 35 mph.
Braking distance
= Total stopping distance.
 Perception distance is the distance your vehicle travels
from the time your eyes see a hazard until your brain
recognizes it. Perception time for an alert driver is about
¾ second. At 55 mph, you travel 60 feet in ¾ second.
 Reaction distance is the distance traveled from the time
your brain tells your foot to move from the accelerator
until the time your foot pushes the brake pedal. An
average driver reacts within ¾ second. This adds an
additional 60 feet to the distance traveled.
V I R G I N I A
Rules of Thumb
 On packed snow, reduce your speed by ½ or more.
 If the road is icy, reduce your speed to a crawl. Stop
driving as soon as you can.
 Empty trucks require greater stopping distance. An
empty vehicle has less traction. The brakes are designed
to control the maximum weight of the unit; therefore,
the brakes lock up more readily when the trailer is
empty or lightly loaded. This can cause skidding and
loss of control.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 27
Section 1: General Knowledge
Speed and Curves
Slippery when wet
 Shady parts of a road will remain icy and slippery long
after open areas have melted.
 Bridges freeze before the road freezes. Be careful
when the temperature is around 32 degrees F.
 Slight melting makes ice wet. Wet ice is more slippery
than ice that is not wet.
 Black ice is a thin layer that is clear enough that you
can see the road underneath. It makes the road look
wet. When the temperature is below freezing and the
road looks wet, watch for black ice.
 If ice is on the front of your mirror, mirror support or
antenna, the road surface is probably starting to ice up.
 Roads are very slippery when rain first begins. Just after
rain begins, water mixes with oil on the road making it
unusually slippery.
Hydroplaning – In some weather, water or slush collects on
the road. When this happens, your vehicle can hydroplane.
The tires lose contact with the road and have little or no
traction. You may not be able to steer or brake. Hydroplaning
can occur at speeds as low as 30 mph. Hydroplaning is more
likely if tire pressure is low or the tread is worn.
 Take your foot off the accelerator and push in the
clutch.
If you take a curve too fast, your tires can lose traction with
the road. This could cause your vehicle to skid off the road or
roll over. Tests show 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 you can lock
the wheels and cause a skid.
 Never exceed the posted speed limit for a curve.
 Downshift to 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 you to slow
down.
 At night, you can’t see as far with low beams as you
can with high beams. When you use low beams, slow
down.
Speed on Downgrades
 As you go downhill, your vehicle’s speed increases.
 This will slow your vehicle and let the wheels turn
freely.
 Never exceed the maximum safe speed on a
downgrade.
 Do not use the brakes to slow down.
 Downshift to a low gear before starting down a grade.
 If the drive wheels begin to skid, push the clutch to let
them turn freely.
 You must use the braking effect of the engine to control
your speed on downgrades. The engine’s braking effect
is greatest when it is near the governed RPMs and the
transmission is in a low gear.
 Save your brakes so that you can slow or stop as
required by road and traffic conditions.
Maximum Speed Limits for Commercial Motor Vehicles
Vehicle Type
Interstate Highways
Limited
Access
Highways
Non-limited Access Highways
Four or More
Lanes
Less Than Four
Lanes
School,
Business or
Residential
Zones
Highways
Designated as
a Rural Rustic
Road
Trucks
Up to 70 mph, as posted
55 mph
55 mph
45 mph (2)
25 mph (3) (4)
35 mph (5)
Passenger Buses
Up to 70 mph, as posted
55 mph
55 mph
55 mph
25 mph (3) (4)
35 mph (5)
School Buses
Maximum 60 mph where the
posted speed limit is more
than 55 mph
45 mph (1)
45 mph (1)
45 mph (1)
25 mph (3) (4)
35 mph (5)
(1) A school bus may travel 45 mph or the minimum speed allowable, if the posted speed limit is 55 mph or less. A school bus may travel up to 60 mph
on an interstate or any other highway where the posted speed limit is more than 55 mph.
(2) Unless otherwise posted and driving conditions permit, the maximum speed limit is 45 mph on all public roads except primary highways
(Routes 1-599) and the Interstate.
(3) Localities may increase or decrease the 25 mph speed limit in school zones. You may travel up to the posted speed limit.
(4) You may travel 25 mph or up to the posted speed limit on highways in business or residential districts.
(5) Some highways designated as rural rustic roads may have posted speed limits other than 35 mph. You may drive up to the speed limit on those roads.
28 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Braking
Emergency braking does not mean pushing down on the
brake pedal as hard as you can. That will lock the wheels and
cause a skid. Instead, brake so that you keep your vehicle in
a straight line. You can use the controlled braking method or
the stab braking method.
Controlled Braking
 Apply the brakes as hard as you can without locking the
wheels.
 Steer as little as possible.
 If you need to steer harder or if the wheels lock, release
the brakes.
 Reapply the brakes as soon as possible.
Stab Braking
 Use stab braking only on vehicles that do not have antilock brake systems.
 Apply your brakes fully.
 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
will not straighten out.
 Avoid braking until your speed has dropped to about 20
mph. Then brake gently to avoid skidding.
 Keep one set of wheels on the pavement if possible.
This helps you to maintain control.
 Stay on the shoulder until your vehicle comes to a stop.
Signal and check your mirrors before returning to the
road.
 If you must return to the road before you stop, hold
the wheel tightly and turn sharply enough to get
back on the road safely. Don’t try to edge on to the
road gradually. This could cause you to lose control.
As soon as both front tires are on the paved surface,
countersteer immediately.
Skid Control and Recovery
A skid happens when the tires lose their grip on the road. The
best way to stop any skid is to restore traction to the tires. The
four main causes of skids are:
 Overbraking. Braking too hard can lock the wheels
causing a skid. Skids may also happen if you use the
speed retarder when the road is slippery.
 Oversteering or turning the wheels too sharply may
cause a skid.
 Overacceleration or supplying too much power to the
drive wheels can cause them to spin.
Steering to Avoid a Crash
Stopping is not always the safest thing to do in an emergency.
If you don’t have enough room to stop, you may have to steer
away from what’s ahead. Many times you can turn to miss
an obstacle more quickly than you can stop. Often, steering
to avoid an obstacle is the best answer in an emergency
situation. However, top-heavy vehicles and tractors with
multiple trailers may roll over. When steering to avoid a crash,
take the following steps.
 Keep both hands on the steering wheel.
 Do not apply the brakes while you are turning.
Applying the brakes could lock your wheels and cause
you to skid out of control.
 Do not turn more than you need. The more sharply you
turn, the greater the risk of turning over or skidding.
 Be ready to countersteer as soon as you have passed
whatever was in your path.
Definition: Countersteer means to turn your wheel
in the opposite direction. Emergency steering and
countersteering are two parts of one driving action.
V I R G I N I A
In some emergencies, you may have to drive off the road.
Most shoulders are strong enough to support the weight of a
large vehicle and offer an escape route. Follow these steps if
you must drive off the road.
 Driving too fast. Most serious skids result from
driving too fast for road conditions. Drivers who
adjust their driving to fit the conditions don’t have
to overaccelerate, brake hard or oversteer to avoid
hazards.
Rear-wheel (drive-wheel) skids are the most common types
of skid. They are caused by overacceleration or overbraking.
 Overaccleration skids usually happen on ice or snow.
Stop the skid by taking your foot off the accelerator. If
the road is slippery, push in the clutch. This allows the
wheels to roll freely and regain traction.
 Overbraking skids happen when the rear drive wheels
lock. Locked wheels have less traction than rolling
wheels and usually slide sideways. A bus or straight
truck will slide sideways. A vehicle towing a trailer will
jackknife. Take the following actions to stop a rearwheel braking skid:
 Stop braking. This will let the rear wheels roll
and keep them from sliding further. If you are on
a slippery surface, push in the clutch to let the
wheels turn freely.
 Turn quickly. If your vehicle begins to slide
sideways, quickly steer in the direction you want
the vehicle to go.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 29
Section 1: General Knowledge
 Countersteer. As soon as your vehicle begins to
move in the correct direction, turn the steering
wheel quickly in the opposite direction. This
will prevent a skid in the opposite direction. Be
careful not to over-correct.
Front wheel skids are often caused by driving too fast for
the conditions. In a front wheel skid, the front of the vehicle
continues in a straight line no matter how much you turn the
steering wheel. You may not be able to steer around a curve
or turn. Lack of tread on the front tires and cargo loaded
incorrectly may also cause front-wheel skids.
 The only way to stop a front-wheel skid is to let your
vehicle slow down.
 Stop turning and hard braking.
 Slow down as quickly as possible without skidding.
 If you are sleepy, pull off the road and get some
sleep. You cannot control your need for sleep. Drivers
who are tired may not see hazards as soon or react as
quickly. This increases the chance of a crash.
The roadway: During the day, there is usually enough light
to see well. At night, some streets may have bright lights,
but others will have poor lighting. On most roads, you will
probably have to depend on your headlights.
Less light means you will not be able to see hazards as quickly.
Pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, animals and other objects may
be difficult to see. Even when there are street lights; the scene
may be confusing. Traffic signals and hazards can be hard to
see against a background of signs, store windows and other
lights.
 Drive slower when lighting is poor or confusing.
Drive slowly enough so that you can stop within the
distance that you can see ahead.
Hazardous Conditions
 Watch for drunk drivers. Be extra careful when bars
and restaurants are closing. Watch drivers who weave,
drive too slow or too fast, or stop for no reason.
Driving becomes hazardous when visibility is reduced or
when the road surface is covered with rain, snow or ice.
Reduce your speed and increase your following distance.
The vehicle: At night, you must depend on your headlights to
see and be seen. However, you can’t see as much with your
headlights at night as you can see during the day.
Night Driving
Three factors affect safe driving at night: the driver, the
roadway and the vehicle.
The driver: Your vision and the vision of other drivers is not
as sharp in low light conditions. Drivers can also be blinded
for a short time by the lights of oncoming vehicles. Older
drivers are especially bothered by glare from the lights of
other vehicles.
 Adjust your speed so that you can stop within the
distance that you can see ahead. With your low
beams, you can see ahead about 250 feet. With your
high beam, you can see ahead between 300 and 500
feet. If you are driving with your low beams on, you
should be able to stop within 250 feet. If you are driving
with your high beams on, you should be able to stop
within 300 to 500 feet.
 Use your high beams when it is safe and legal. High
beams increase your ability to see. However, glare from
your headlights can blind other drivers. Dim your lights
within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle. Dim your light
when following within 200 feet of another vehicle. If a
driver coming toward you doesn’t dim his lights, don’t
get back by turning on your high beams. This increases
the chance of a crash.
 Don’t look directly at bright lights when driving. Look
to the right of the road. Watch the side of the road
when another car or truck comes toward you. It can
take several seconds to recover from blindness caused
by 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.
 Get enough sleep before you drive. Being tired and
lack of alertness are problems for drivers at night. Most
people are less alert at night, especially after midnight.
This is even more true if you have been driving for a
long time.
30 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
 Make sure that your headlights are clean and
adjusted properly. Dirty headlights give only half
the light they should. This makes it harder for you to
see and harder for other drivers to see you. If your
headlights are out of adjustment, they won’t give you a
good view and they can blind other drivers.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
 Be sure that all lights and reflectors are clean and
working so that other drivers can see you. These lights
include:
 Markers lights
 Remove ice from the radiator shutters. Make sure the
winterfront is not closed too tightly. If the shutters freeze
or the winterfront is closed too much, the engine may
overheat.
 Check the exhaust system for loose parts and for
signs of leaks. Loose connections can let carbon
monoxide leak into the vehicle. This can cause
sleepiness. In large amounts it can kill you.
 Clearance lights
 Tail lights
 Identification lights
 Turn signals
Driving Tips
 Brake lights
 Be sure that your windshield and mirrors are clean.
Dirt on your windshield and mirrors can increase the
glare from other vehicles’ lights. This will make it hard
for you to see other vehicles and hazards.
Fog
Fog reflects light and can reflect your own headlights back
into your eyes. Use only your low beams. Look for road edge
markings to guide you. Even light fog reduces your ability to
see and judge distances. If possible, pull off the road and wait
until the fog has lifted. If you must drive, be sure to:
 Obey all fog-related warning signs
 Drive smoothly and slowly on slippery roads. Don’t
hurry. If the roads are very slippery, don’t drive at all.
Stop at the first safe place.
 Adjust turning and braking to road conditions. Make
turns as gently as possible. Don’t brake any harder than
necessary. Don’t use the engine brake or speed retarder
on slippery or wet roads. They can cause the driving
wheels to skid.
 Adjust speed to conditions. Don’t pass slower vehicles
unless necessary. Go slow and watch far enough ahead
to keep a steady speed. Avoid slowing down and
speeding up. Take curves at slower speeds and don’t
brake while you’re in the curve.
 Reduce your speed
 Turn on all your lights
Remember, as the temperature rises and the ice begins to
melt, the road becomes even more slippery.
 Use only your low beams
 Be prepared for sudden stops
Cold Weather Driving
Vehicle Checks
During your pre-trip inspection, pay extra attention to the
following items. Be sure that these systems are working
correctly and that you know how to use them before you
begin driving.
 Coolant and antifreeze
 Defrosting and heating equipment
 Adjust space to road conditions. Don’t drive beside
other vehicles. Keep extra following distance. Watch
ahead for slowing or stopped traffic. Slow down
gradually.
 Avoid driving through deep puddles or flowing water.
Water in your brakes can cause the brakes to be weak,
apply unevenly or to grab. This reduces braking power
and causes wheel lockups and pulling to one side. It
could cause a jackknife if you are pulling a trailer. If you
must drive through water, following these steps:
 Wipers and washers
 Slow down.
 Tires (Be sure your tires have enough tread to provide
sufficient traction to steer and push the vehicle through
snow).
 Put your transmission in low gear. Engage the
clutch smoothly.
In addition:
 Clear your vehicle of all snow and ice. Be sure your
lights, reflectors, windows and mirrors, handholds, steps
and deck plates are free of snow and ice.
 As a precaution, carry the right number of chains and
extra cross links. Make sure they 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 use them.
V I R G I N I A
 Put on the brakes gently. This presses the linings
against the brake drums or discs and keeps mud,
silt, sand and water out of your brakes.
 Increase the engine RPM and cross the water
while keeping light pressure on your brakes.
 As soon as you are out of the water, maintain
light pressure on the brakes for a short distance.
This will heat them and dry them out.
 Make a test stop as soon as it is safe. If, the
brakes do not work well, drive for another short
distance with light pressure on the brakes. Don’t
apply too much pressure on the brakes or you
may overheat the brake drums and linings.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 31
Section 1: General Knowledge
Hot Weather Driving
Vehicle Checks
 Make sure you have plenty of engine oil and engine
coolant. Engine oil lubricates the engine and helps
keep it cool. Antifreeze helps the engine under hot
conditions and in cold conditions. While you are
driving, check the oil temperature gauge and the engine
temperature gauge. If these gauges show a temperature
higher than normal, stop driving as soon as safely
possible. There could be something wrong that could
lead to engine failure or fire.
 Check engine belts and hoses. Check the belts for
tightness by pressing on the belts. Be sure coolant hoses
are in good condition. Loose belts or broken hoses can
lead to engine failure and fire.
 While you’re driving, inspect the tires every two
hours or every 100 miles. Air pressure increases with
temperature. Do not let air out. If you let air out, the
pressure will be too low when the tires cool. If a tire is
too hot to touch, remain stopped until the tire cools.
Otherwise, the tire may blow out or catch on fire.
 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. You can also check the coolant level of a hot
engine if a coolant container is part of a pressurized
system.
Driving Tips
 Watch for bleeding tar. In hot weather, spots where tar
bleeds to the road surface are very slippery.
 Drive slow enough to prevent overheating. High
speeds create more heat for tires and the engine. In
desert conditions, the heat may rise to a dangerous
level. The heat will increase the chance of tire failure,
engine failure and fire.
Mountain Driving
Gravity plays a major role in mountain driving. On upgrades,
gravity slows you down. The steeper and longer the grade,
and the heavier your load, the slower you will drive. When
coming down a downgrade, gravity increases the speed of
your vehicle. Try to plan ahead and get information about any
steep grades along your planned route.
 Select a safe speed. Base your speed on the following:
 The weight of your vehicle and cargo
 Length of the grade
 Steepness of the grade
 Road conditions
 Weather conditions
32 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
 Never drive faster than the speed posted on
“Maximum Safe Speed” signs. Remember that the
speed posted on these signs could be too fast for a large
vehicle or for the weather conditions.
 Pay attention to warning signs that tell the length and
steepness of the grade.
 Use the braking effect of your engine to maintain
a safe speed. The braking effect of the engine is best
when the transmission is in a low gear. Save your brakes
so you can slow down or stop for traffic and road
conditions.
 Shift the transmission to a lower gear before you
start down the grade. Don’t downshift after you’ve
gained speed. You won’t be able to shift into a lower
gear. You may not be able to get back into any gear. For
older trucks, use the same gear for going down a hill
that you would use to climb the hill. New trucks have
more powerful engines and can climb hills in higher
gears than older trucks. Therefore in newer trucks, use a
lower gear for going down a hill than you would use for
climbing the hill.
 Be sure your brakes are adjusted before you begin
a trip through the mountains. If you use your brakes
too much, they will fade. Excessive heat causes the
brake drums to expand. As a result, the brake shoes
have to travel further and exert less stopping force. This
situation is made even worse if the brakes were not
properly adjusted to begin with. Remember, the more
you use your brakes, the more quickly they will get out
of adjustment.
 Use the proper braking technique. Use your brakes on
a long, steep downgrade plus the braking power of your
engine. When your vehicle is in the proper low gear,
use this braking technique:
 Apply the brakes just enough to feel a definite
slowdown.
 Reduce your speed to 5 mph below your safe
speed. This should take about 3 seconds. Then,
release the brakes.
 When your speed has increased to your safe
speed, repeat the first steps.
 Know where the escape ramps are located on your
route. Escape ramps have been built on many steep
downgrades. They are made to stop runaway vehicles
without injuring drivers and passengers. Escape ramps
use a long bed of loose soft material to slow runaway
vehicles. Use them if you lose your brakes.
If your safe speed on a steep grade is 40 mph, don’t apply
your brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. Apply your
brakes enough to reduce your speed to 35 mph. This
should take about 3 seconds. Release the brakes. Repeat
these steps until you reach the end of the downgrade.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
Railroad Crossing
Railroad crossings are always dangerous. Always look both
ways. Trains may come at any time
from either direction. Follow these
rules when crossing railroad tracks.
 Don’t try to race a train to the
crossing. It is very difficult to
judge the speed of a train.
 Reduce your speed. Be sure
you can stop before you
reach the tracks if necessary.
 Because of the noise in your cab, you won’t hear the
train horn until the train is very close.
 Don’t rely on train warning signals or flagmen to let
you know of an approaching train.
 Double tracks require more caution. A train on one
track may hide a train on the other track.
 After one train has cleared the crossing, check again.
Be sure that no other train is coming before you cross
the tracks.
 A railroad crossing with steep approaches can cause
your vehicle to hang up on the tracks. This is most
likely to happen to vehicles that have low ground
clearance, such as drop frame trailers and car carriers.
If you get hung up on a railroad crossing, notify the
police immediately so that nearby trains can be
stopped.
 Be sure you can get all the way across the tracks
before you begin to cross.
 Do not shift gears when crossing railroad tracks.
 Vehicles equipped to carry passengers or hazardous
cargo must come to a complete stop at railroad
crossings. You must also stop if the lights are flashing,
the arms are down or you are directed to stop by
signs or the police.
 Find an escape route. While slowing your vehicle, look
for an escape route—an open field, side street or escape
ramp.
Air Brake Fading or Failure
Excessive use of the service brakes causes overheating and
leads to brake fade. Excessive heat in the brakes causes
chemical changes in the lining which reduce friction and cause
the brake drums to expand. As the overheated drums expand,
the brake shoes and linings have to move farther to contact
the drums. The force of contact between the shoes and drums
is also reduced. Overuse may increase brake fade until the
vehicle cannot be slowed or stopped at all.
Brakes that are out of adjustment may also cause brake fade.
To safely control the vehicle, every brake must do its share
of the work. Brakes out of adjustment stop doing their share
before brakes that are in adjustment. This causes the other
brakes to overheat and fade. Brakes can get out of adjustment
quickly, especially when they are hot. Therefore, brake
adjustment must be checked frequently.
Brake failure on downgrades. Driving slowly and braking
properly will almost always prevent brake fade on long
downgrades. Once the brakes fail, however, you must look
outside your vehicle for something to stop it.
Your best hope is an escape ramp. Ramps are usually located
a few miles from the top of a downgrade. Signs will be posted
telling you about it. Use the escape ramp if it is available.
If you don’t see an escape ramp, take the least hazardous
escape route—an open field or a side road that flattens out or
turns up hill.
Look for an escape route as soon as you know that your brakes
don’t work. The longer you wait, the more speed your vehicle
will gain and it will be harder to stop.
Tire Failure
Equipment Failures
The sooner that you know a tire has failed the more time you
will have to react. The major signs of a tire failure are:
Brake Failures
Brakes kept in good condition seldom fail. Most hydraulic
brake failures occur for two reasons: 1) loss of hydraulic
pressure or 2) brake fade on long hills.
Loss of hydraulic pressure. When the system won’t build up
pressure, the brake pedal will feel spongy or go to the floor.
Take the following steps:
 Downshift. Putting your vehicle in a lower gear will help
slow the vehicle.
 Pump the brakes. This will sometimes generate enough
hydraulic pressure to stop the vehicle.
V I R G I N I A
 Sound. A loud bang often indicates a blowout.
However, it may take several seconds for your vehicle
to react and you might think that the sound came from
another vehicle. Any time you hear a tire blow, assume
that it was one of your tires.
 Vibration. If your vehicle thumps or vibrates, a tire may
have gone flat. With a rear tire, this may be the only sign
you get.
 Feel. If the steering feels heavy, one of the front tires has
probably failed. Sometimes, failure of a rear tire causes
the vehicle to slide back and forth or fishtail. However,
dual rear tires usually prevent this.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 33
Section 1: General Knowledge
If a tire fails, take the following steps:
 Hold the steering wheel firmly. If a front tire fails, it can
twist the steering wheel out of your hand. Keep a firm
grip on the steering wheel with both hands at all times.
 Stay off the brakes. Braking when a tire has failed could
cause you to lose control. Unless you are about to run
into something, stay off the brake until the vehicle has
slowed down. Then, brake gently and pull off the road.
 Check the tires. Even if the vehicle seems to be handling
normally. Many times you won’t know that a dual tire is
flat unless you look at it.
Fires
Truck fires can cause damage and injury. Learn the causes of
fires and how to prevent them. Know what to do to extinguish
fires.
Causes of Fire
 After accidents: spilled fuel, improper use of flares
 Tire: under-inflated tires and dual tires that touch
 Electrical system: short circuits due to damaged
insulation, loose connections
Crashes
 Fuel: driver smoking, improper fueling, loose fuel
connections
If you are in a crash and not seriously hurt, you need to take
three steps to prevent further damage or injury:
 Cargo: flammable cargo, improperly sealed or loaded
cargo, poor ventilation
 Protect the area.
Fire Prevention
 Notify the authorities.
 Pre-trip inspection: Make a complete inspection of the
electrical, fuel and exhaust systems, tires and cargo. Be
sure that your fire extinguisher is charged. Be sure that
you know how to use it.
 Care for the injured.
Protect the Area
To prevent another crash this is the first thing you should do.
 If your vehicle is involved in the crash, try to move it to
the side of the road. This will help prevent another crash.
 If you are stopping to help at the scene of a crash, park
away from the crash. The area around the crash will be
needed by emergency vehicles.
 Put on your flashers.
 Set out reflective triangles to warn other traffic. Make
sure that other drivers will see them in time to avoid
another crash
If you have a CB or cellular telephone, put out a call over the
emergency channel or dial 911 before you get out of your
vehicle. If not, wait until the crash scene has been protected,
then phone or send someone to phone the police. Remember
to determine where you are so you can give an accurate
location.
Your life and the lives of others may depend on your ability to
fight a fire. Study the instructions printed on the extinguisher.
Know how your fire extinguisher works before you drive the
vehicle. If a fire occurs:
 Pull off the road.
 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.
Care for the Injured
If a qualified person is helping the injured, stay out of the way
unless asked to assist. Otherwise, do the best you can to help
anyone who is injured.
 Don’t move a severely injured person unless there is a
danger of fire or passing traffic makes it necessary.
 Stop heavy bleeding by applying direct pressure to the
wound.
 Keep the injured person warm.
V I R G I N I A
 Safe procedures: Don’t get careless. Always follow
correct safety procedures for fueling the vehicle, using
brakes, handling flares and other activities that can cause
a fire.
Fire Fighting
Notify the Authorities
34 |
 Inspections while traveling: Check the tires and hubs
for signs of excessive heat whenever you stop during a
trip. Frequently check the instruments and gauges for
signs of overheating. Use your mirrors to look for signs of
smoke from the tires or other areas of the vehicle.
C O M M E R C I A L
 Notify the police of your problem and location.
 Keep the fire from spreading before you try to put it
out.
 If your engine is on fire, turn off the engine
as soon as you can. Open the hood as little as
possible. Shoot the fire extinguisher through
louvers, the radiator grille or from the underside of
the vehicle.
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
 If you have a cargo fire in a van or box trailer,
keep the doors shut, especially if your cargo
contains hazardous materials. Opening the doors
will supply the fire with oxygen and will cause it to
burn very fast.
 Use the right fire extinguisher: By regulation, B:C
extinguishers are required on commercial vehicles, A:B:C
are an acceptable alternate.
 If you’re not sure what to use, especially if you
have a hazardous material fire, wait for qualified
fire fighters.
 Extinguish the fire only 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.
 B:C type extinguishers work on electrical fires
and burning liquids. Don’t use water on electrical
or gasoline fires.
 Position yourself upwind. Let the wind carry the
extinguisher to the fire instead of carrying the
flames to you.
 A:B:C type extinguishers work on burning wood,
paper and cloth as well as burning liquid and
electrical fires.
 Be sure you have a path of retreat if you are
unable to control the fire.
 Water can be used on wood, paper, cloth and
burning tires. Don’t use water on an electrical
fire (you could get shocked) or on a fire involving
petroleum products.
 Continue until whatever was burning has cooled.
If you don’t see any smoke or flames, don’t
assume that the fire is out. It could be smoldering
and it could restart.
Hazardous Materials Rules for All
Commercial Drivers
must know if you can haul it without having a hazardous
materials endorsement on your commercial driver’s license.
All drivers should know something about hazardous materials.
You must be able to recognize hazardous materials and you
Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk to health,
safety and property during transportation. The table below
lists 9 hazard classes.
Class
Division
1
1.1
Explosives (Mass Detonation)
Dinitrophenol
1.2
Projections Hazards
Ammunition Smoke, White Phosphorus
1.3
Mass Fire Hazards
Article, Explosive No. 5
1.4
Minor Hazards
Fireworks
1.5
Very Insensitive
Blasting Agents Explosive, Blasting, Type E
1.6
Extremely Insensitive
Article, Explosive Extremely Insensitive
2.1
Flammable Gases
Propane
2.2
Non Flammable Gases
Helium, Compressed
2
2.3
Name of Class or Division
Example
Poisonous/Toxic Gases
Fluorine, Compressed
Flammable Liquids
Gasoline, Alcohol, Diesel Fuel, Fuel Oils
4.1
Flammable Solids
Ammonium Picrate, Wetted
4.2
Spontaneously Combustible
Phosphorus, White Dry
4.3
Dangerous When Wet
Sodium
5.1
Oxidizers
Ammonium Nitrate, Liquid
5.2
Organic Peroxides
Organic Peroxide Type, B Liquid
6.1
Poison (Toxic Material)
Potassium Cyanide
6.2
Infectious Substances
Diagnostic Specimen
7
Radioactive
Radioactive Material, Uranium Hexafloride
8
Corrosives
Sulfuric Acid
9
Miscellaneous Hazardous Materials
Airbag Inflaters, Asbestos
ORM-D (Other Regulated Material-Domestic)
Consumer Commodity
Combustible Liquid
Diesel Fuel, Fuel Oil
3
4
5
6
None
Combustible Liquid
You must follow the rules for transporting hazardous materials. These rules ensure safe drivers and equipment. They also tell
you how to contain a harardous material and how to communicate its risk.
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 35
Section 1: General Knowledge
To Ensure Safe Drivers and Equipment
could depend on quickly locating hazardous materials
shipping papers. For this reason, you must tab shipping papers
related to hazardous materials or keep them on top of other
shipping papers.
Definition: Placards are diamond-shaped signs put on
the outside of a vehicle to warn others. They identify the
hazard class of the cargo.
You must keep shipping papers:
Drivers of placarded vehicles must have a commercial driver’s
license with the hazardous materials endorsement. Drivers
must learn how to safely load and transport hazardous
materials.
To get the endorsement, you must pass a written test
on Section 9 of this manual. If you transport hazardous
materials in a cargo tank with a gross vehicle weight rating
of 26,000 pounds or more, you will also need a tank vehicle
endorsement, Section 7.
Never drive a vehicle that needs placards unless you have
a hazardous materials endorsement. Transporting hazardous
materials without the proper placards is a crime. You will be
stopped, cited and you will not be allowed to drive your truck
further. It will cost you time and money.
Driving without the proper placards could also risk your
life and the lives of others. If you have a crash, emergency
workers will not know about your hazardous cargo.
Hazardous materials drivers must also know which products
they can load together. Section 9 of this manual covers these
regulations. Before loading a truck with more than one type
of product, you must know if it is safe. If you do not know, ask
your employer.
 In a pouch on the driver’s door, or
 In clear view and within reach while driving, or
 On the driver’s seat when you are out of the vehicle.
Shipping labels are four-inch, diamond-shaped warning
labels and are placed on hazardous materials packages.
These labels inform others of the hazard. If the diamond label
won’t fit on the container, shippers put the label on a tag. For
example, compressed gas cylinders that will not hold a label
will have tags or decals.
Placards are 10 ¾ inches on each side and are diamondshaped. Cargo tanks and other bulk packaging display the
I.D. number of their contents on placards or orange panels.
A placarded vehicle must have at least 4 identical placards.
They are placed on the front, rear and both sides of the
vehicle.
Not all vehicles that carry hazardous materials need placards.
The regulations about placards are given in Section 9 of
this manual. You can drive a vehicle carrying hazardous
materials if it does not require placards. If it requires placards,
you may not drive it unless you have a hazardous material
endorsement on your commercial driver’s license.
Staying Alert and Fit to Drive
To Contain a Hazardous Material
Many hazardous materials can injure or kill on contact.
Federal regulations tell shippers how to package these
materials safely. This protects drivers and others from contact
with the hazardous materials. Other regulations tell drivers
how to load, transport and unload bulk tanks. These are
called containment rules.
To Communicate the Risk
Federal Regulations on Hours of Service and
Off-Duty Time
The shipper uses a shipping paper, package labels and
placards to warn dock workers and drivers of the presence
of hazardous materials, the hazard class and the specific
hazardous material.
The shipping paper describes the hazardous material being
transported. Shipping orders, bills of lading and manifests are
examples of shipping papers.
After an accident or hazardous material spill or leak, you may
be injured and unable to tell others about your hazardous
cargo. Fire fighters and police can prevent or reduce the
amount of damage and injury if they know what hazardous
materials you are carrying. Your life and the lives of others
36 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
Driving a commercial vehicle requires skill, education and
physical fitness. Driving for long hours is tiring and even
the best drivers will become less alert. You can cope with
fatigue and maximize your alertness by following the federal
regulations on hours of service and off duty time. You can also
combat fatigue and maximize your alertness by maintaining a
healthy lifestyle.
In an effort to control driver fatigue, the federal government
established regulations governing hours of service and
required off-duty time. These regulations specify driving
time, off-duty time and prohibit driving after you have been
on-duty in excess of specified amounts of time. Refer to
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations for specific
requirements.
Staying Alert
 Get enough rest. When you go off duty, your first
concern should be to get enough rest so that you will
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Section 1: General Knowledge
have the 7 to 8 hours sleep that every person needs.
After you have gotten your sleep and you have been
awake and alert for more than 8 hours without being
notified of your next assignment, take a short nap so
you will be alert when you return to work. Remember,
sleep is the only way to overcome fatigue.
 Schedule your trips safely. Ideally, you should try to
schedule trips for the hours when you are normally
awake. However, many motor carriers operate around
the clock. Therefore, you must be prepared to drive
safely during irregular work times.
 Rest during your off-duty times. Everyone is affected
by the circadian rhythm. This is the name of the 24hour cycle of alertness and sleep that affects everyone.
Normally, most people have low points of alertness
from 2 to 6 a.m. and from 2 to 5 p.m. If you are already
tired, your risk of falling asleep during these periods
is greatly increased. That’s why it’s important to get
as much rest as possible during your off-duty hours.
Remember, many heavy vehicle crashes occur between
midnight and 6 a.m.
 Take a nap. If you get sleepy, a short nap will do more
for you than a cup of coffee. Find a safe place to pull
over and stop. Remember, parking on the shoulder of
an interstate or other main highway is dangerous and is
not permitted except in an emergency. Napping is not
considered an emergency. Find a rest area, truck stop or
a safe place along a nearby road.
 Avoid drugs. No drugs can help you overcome being
tired. Stimulants may keep you awake for a while; but,
they won’t make you alert. When they wear off, you’ll
be even more tired than if you had never taken them.
Sleep is the only way to overcome fatigue.
 Avoid medication. Many medications can make you
sleepy. These medications usually have a label or folder
that warns against operating vehicles or machinery
while taking them. Cold pills are one of the most
common medicines that will make you sleepy. If you
must drive with a cold, you are better off suffering from
the cold than from the effects of the medicine.
 Keep cool. A hot, poorly ventilated cab can make you
sleepy. Keep the window or vent cracked, or use the air
conditioner.
 Take a break. Stay alert by stopping for a short break
every 2 to 3 hours. Walk around and give your vehicle a
safety check.
Drinking and Driving
Every year, roughly 19,000 people are killed because of
drivers who have been drinking. About one-half of all fatal
crashes involve drinking drivers. Be sure that you know the
facts.
V I R G I N I A
False
True
A few drinks will improve your
driving.
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 feel the effects.
Everyone who drinks alcohol is
affected. Just one drink affects
your ability to drive safely.
If you eat a lot, you won’t get as
drunk.
Food will not keep you from
getting drunk.
Coffee and fresh air will help
you get sober.
Only time will help you get
sober. Other methods don’t
work.
Stick with beer. It’s not as strong A 12-ounce glass of beer, a fiveas wine or whiskey.
ounce glass of wine and a shot
of liquor have the same amount
of alcohol.
Just one alcoholic drink can affect your driving ability.
Even a small amount of alcohol affects the brain. Alcohol
first affects the part of the brain that controls judgment and
self-control. This can keep you from knowing when you are
getting drunk. Alcohol affects your judgment and driving
ability. Your chances of being in a crash are seven times
greater if you drive after drinking than if you drive sober.
Alcohol also affects coordination, reaction time and vision.
Ninety percent of the information used in driving comes
from seeing. Alcohol relaxes the eye muscles. As a result, you
cannot focus properly. Any restriction in vision could cause
you to crash.
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in your
body. BAC depends on the amount of alcohol consumed,
the time spent drinking and your body weight. The more you
drink, the higher your BAC will be and the more affected your
driving will become.
It takes at least an hour for the blood stream to rid itself of
one ounce of alcohol. Only time can get rid of the effects of
alcohol. Coffee, cold showers or exercise will not make you
sober.
Mixing alcohol with other drugs usually multiplies the
effects of both. Having one drink and taking an aspirin or
simple cold pill could have the same effect as several drinks.
Almost any drug can reduce your ability to drive safely.
It’s not just illegal drugs that cause problems. Many over-thecounter drugs and prescription drugs can cause sleepiness and
dizziness. These drugs often affect your alertness and reaction
time.
Read the label before taking any drug or medicine. Look for
warnings about the side effects. If you are uncertain about the
effects of a drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
| 37
Section 1: General Knowledge
Laws prohibit possession and use of many drugs while
you are on duty. It’s illegal to be under the influence of any
controlled substance, narcotic or other substance that can
make a driver unsafe. This includes prescription and over-thecounter drugs that may make you sleepy or affect your driving
ability. Possession and use of a drug is legal if your doctor tells
you that the drug will not affect your driving ability.
Section 2:
Air Brakes
Alcohol and Drug Testing
Federal regulations require that drivers who operate a
commercial motor vehicle and hold a CDL, be tested for
misuse of alcohol and the use of controlled substances
such as amphetamines, marijuana, opiates, PCP and
cocaine.
 Testing for misuse of alcohol:
 on a random basis;
 for a reasonable suspicion of misuse;
 following a crash, and
 when returning to duty.
If you plan
 You may be tested for controlled substances:
to drive a truck or bus with air brakes,
you need to study this section. If you plan to pull a trailer
with air brakes, you must study this section and Section 3:
Combination Vehicles.
 prior to employment;
 on a random basis;
 for reasonable suspicion of use;
Air brakes use compressed air to make the brakes work. Air
brakes stop large and heavy vehicles safely; but the brakes
must be maintained and used correctly.
 following a crash, and
 when returning to duty.
Promptly follow your employer’s instructions for alcohol
and drug testing.
Air brakes are three different braking systems: service brake,
parking brake and emergency brake systems.
Violation of the regulations for alcohol and drug use and
testing can jeopardize your career as a commercial driver.
 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 if the
service brake system fails.
Air Brake System Parts
 Air compressor pumps air into the air storage tanks
(reservoirs). It is connected to the engine through
gears or a v-belt. The compressor may be air cooled or
cooled by the engine cooling system. It may have its
own oil supply or it may be lubricated by engine oil.
If the compressor has its own oil supply, check the oil
level during the pre-trip inspection.
 Air compressor governor controls when the air
compressor pumps air into the air storage tanks. When
air tank pressure rises to the cut-out level (around 125
pounds per square inch—psi), the governor stops the
38 |
V I R G I N I A
C O M M E R C I A L
D R I V E R ’ S
M A N U A L
Was this manual useful for you? yes no
Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Download PDF

advertisement