CDL Study Manual
2014
DR 2251 (07/01/14)
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Table of Contents
Section
Pages
Introduction ........................................................................................................ 1
1.1 – 1.5
Driving Safely..................................................................................................... 2
2.1 – 2.41
Transporting Cargo Safely................................................................................. 3
3.1 – 3.3
Transporting Passengers Safely ....................................................................... 4
4.1 – 4.4
School Buses..................................................................................................... 5
5.1 – 5.14
Air Brakes .......................................................................................................... 6
6.1 – 6.10
Combination Vehicles........................................................................................ 7
7.1 – 7.11
Doubles and Triples........................................................................................... 8
8.1 – 8.5
Tank Vehicles .................................................................................................... 9
9.1 – 9.3
Hazardous Materials......................................................................................... 10
10.1 – 10.20
Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection .............................................................................. 11
11.1 – 11.8
Basic Vehicle Control Skills ............................................................................. 12
12.1 – 12.3
On-Road Driving ............................................................................................... 13
13.1 – 13.4
Table of Contents
Updated March 2010
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Firefighting Equipment. Necessary to the preservation of life and property or the execution of
emergency governmental functions; emergency
equipment such as a fire truck, hook and ladder,
foam or water transporter or other vehicles used
only in response to emergencies are included in
this exemption. Those employed as a volunteer or
paid firefighting organization are included in the exemption.
Section 1
INTRODUCTION
This Section Covers
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Commercial Vehicles
CDL Vehicle Classes
Endorsements
Restrictions
Exemptions
CDL Tests
Driver Disqualifications
Other Safety Rules
 Emergency Snow Plowing. During declared emergency snow removal operations, non-CDL holders
may operate snowplow vehicles. The Colorado
State Patrol (CSP) determines when an emergency
snow condition exists.
The information in this handbook is to assist the
commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver in obtaining
their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). If you
have questions on traffic rules, signs, point systems, driving standards, or identification requirements, this information is available in the Colorado’s Regular Driver’s License Handbook.
You must have a CDL to operate:
 Any motor vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
 Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or
more provided the gross vehicle weight rating
(GVWR) of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess
of 10,000 pounds.
 Any vehicle that is designed to transport 16 or more
passengers, including the driver.
 Any vehicle transporting hazardous material and is
required to be placarded in accordance with 49
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 172, Subpart F.
The following vehicles are exempt from the CDL
requirements. Commercial Motor Vehicle does not
include:
 CMVs operated by military personnel for military
purposes.
 Any farm vehicles:
 Controlled and operated by a farmer;
 Used to transport agriculture products, farm machinery, or farm supplies to or from a farm;
 Used within 150 miles of the person’s farm;
 Not used in the operation of a common or contract motor carrier.
 Recreational Vehicles. When used for recreational purposes, a motor home which truck or motor home is used exclusively for pleasure, enjoyment, other recreational purposes, or family
transportation of the owner, lessee, or occupant
and is not used to transport cargo or passengers
for profit, hire, or otherwise in any business or
commercial enterprise.
CDL OVERVIEW
1.1 – CDL VEHICLE CLASSES
Class A—Combination Vehicles. Any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight
rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more provided
the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
Class B—Heavy Straight Vehicles. Any single
vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, or
any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of
10,000 pounds GVWR.
Class C—Small Vehicles. Any single vehicle, or
combination of vehicles, that meets neither the
definition of Class A, nor that of Class B, but that is
either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is used in the transportation of materials found to be hazardous for
the purposes of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act and which require the motor vehicle to
be placarded under the Hazardous Materials
Regulations 49 CFR part 172, Subpart F.
Representative Vehicle. For purposes of taking the
skill tests, a representative vehicle for a given
vehicle class is any commercial motor vehicle that
meets the definition of that vehicle class. A truck
tractor is designed to operate with a towed unit(s),
typically a semi-trailer and therefore could only be
Section1 – Introduction
Page 1- 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
used as a representative vehicle when connected to
a semi-trailer, for the Class A CDL.
Relation Between Vehicle Classes. Each driver
applicant who desires to operate in a different CMV
group from the one that his or her CDL authorizes
is required to take and pass all related tests, except the following:
 A driver who has passed the knowledge and skill
tests for a combination vehicle (Class A) may operate a heavy straight vehicle (Class B) or a small vehicle (Class C), provided that he or she possesses
the required endorsement(s); and
 A driver who has passed the knowledge and skill
tests for a heavy straight vehicle (Class B) may operate any small vehicle (Group C), if he or she possesses the required endorsement(s).
 A driver that operates vehicles with air-over hydraulic brake systems or air-assisted brake systems will
not be allowed to drive vehicles equipped with “full”
air brake systems.
CDL ENDORSEMENTS
Removing the Restriction L. To remove the air
brake restriction “L", the knowledge test on air
brakes and the skill tests in a vehicle equipped with
a “full” air brake system are required.
Removing the No/Trtcr/Trlr. To remove the no
tractor-trailer restriction, the driver must complete
the appropriate knowledge test(s) and skill tests in
a power unit with a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or
more, a towed unit with a GVWR of 10,001 pounds
or more and a GCWR of 26,001 pounds or more.
Legal Age: 18
You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a
CDL Instruction Permit or to receive a CDL. Drivers
18 through 20 years of age will be issued the “K”
restriction to operate a CDL vehicle within the
boundaries of Colorado.
Medical Examination
To obtain the medical examination form you should
contact your employer, physician, or download the
form at: http://www.csp.state.co.us/mcsap.html and
have a medical doctor certify the form.
CDL Instruction Permit
T – Double/Triple Trailers – a knowledge test
P – Passenger – knowledge and skill tests
P1 – passenger vehicle 26,000 lbs or less
P2 – passenger vehicle 26,001 lbs or more
N – Tank Vehicle – a knowledge test
H – Hazardous Materials – a knowledge test
S – School Bus – knowledge and skill tests
X – Hazmat/Tanker Combination
If you have an out-of-state driver’s license, you
must be issued a Colorado Regular Driver’s License before applying for a Colorado CDL Instruction Permit. The CDL Instruction Permit is required
before the CDL Driving Skill Tests are administered.
To receive the CDL Instruction Permit you must:
CDL RESTRICTIONS
K – Intrastate only. For individuals between the
ages of 18 through 20, or for individuals who do
not meet the Department of Transportation (DOT)
medical requirements but have been issued a
waiver from the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) to
operate a CDL vehicle.
L – Air brake restriction. If an applicant either fails
the air brake component of the knowledge test, or
performs the skill tests in a vehicle not equipped
with a “full” air brake system, the person is restricted from operating a CMV equipped with a
“full” air brake system.
No/Trctr/Trlr – No Tractor Trailer Operation. If an
applicant successfully completes the driving skill
tests in a vehicle meeting the definition of Class A
but the power unit is under 26,001 pounds GVWR
and the combination of power unit and the towed
unit(s) is 26,001 pounds or more, the person is
restricted from operating a tractor-trailer.
 Have a Colorado regular driver’s license.
 Show acceptable legal presence documentation.
 Show acceptable identification.
 Be at least 18 years of age.
 Show proof of your Social Security Number.
 Show evidence of a current DOT medical examination certification.
 Clear Commercial Driver License Information System (CDLIS) and National Driver Register (NDR)
record’s checks.
 Pass the required CDL Knowledge tests.
 Pay the Instruction Permit fee.
The CDL Instruction Permit allows you to operate
the class of vehicle shown on the permit only when
you are accompanied by a person who is at least
21 years of age and holds a valid CDL of the same
class of license or higher, with the required endorsements for the vehicle being operated. The
person must be in the seat closest to the driver.
Section1 – Introduction
Page 1- 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
COMMERCIAL DRIVER LICENSE KNOWLEDGE
TESTS
You will have to take one or more knowledge tests,
depending on what class of license and what endorsements you need. The CDL knowledge tests
include:
 The general knowledge test is required for all applicants.
 The air brakes test is required if your vehicle has a
“full” air brake system.
 The combination vehicle test is required if you want
to drive combination vehicles.
 The hazardous material test is required if you want
to haul hazardous materials or waste in amounts
that require a placard or any quantity of a material
listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR 73.
 The tank test is required if you want to haul a liquid
or liquid gas in a permanently mounted cargo tank
rated at 119 gallons or more or a portable tank
rated at 1,000 gallons or more.
Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection. You will be tested to
see if you know whether your vehicle is safe to
drive. You will be asked to do a vehicle inspection
and explain to the tester what you are inspecting
and how you know an item is in good, safe working
order.
Basic Vehicle Control. You will be tested on your
skill to control the vehicle in relation to other objects. You will be asked to move your vehicle forward, backward, and turn it within a defined area.
These areas may be marked with traffic lanes,
cones, and barriers. The tester will give you instructions on how each exercise is to be done.
On-Road Driving Test. You will be tested on your
skill to safely drive your vehicle in a variety of traffic
situations. The situations will include left and right
turns, intersections, railroad crossings, curves, single or multi-lane roads, streets, or highways. The
tester will give you directions during the road test.
Figure 1.2 details which sections of this handbook
you should study for each particular class of license and for each endorsement.
 The doubles/triples test is required if you want to
pull double or triple trailers.
What Sections Should You Study?
LICENSE
TYPE
HazMat
Double/Triple
Tank Vehicle
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School Bus
Class C
If you pass the required knowledge test(s) and are
issued a CDL instruction permit, you can take the
CDL Skill Tests. There are three types of skill tests
that you will be tested on: vehicle inspection, basic
vehicle control, and on-road driving. You must take
these tests in the type of vehicle for which you wish
to be licensed. If you fail any portion of the skill
tests, you must wait three days to be retested and
all three skills must be redone. To schedule a retest, you can contact a CDL Third Party Testing
unit.
1
2
3
4
5
6*
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
Class B
Authorized CDL third party driving skill testing units
administer the CDL Skill Tests. A list of CDL Third
Party testing units is located online at:
http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/RevenueMV/RMV/1187080326147. You can contact a third
party CDL testing unit to schedule the skill tests. If
you need additional information, you can call 303205-5682.
Sections to Study
SKILL TESTS
Class A
 The School Bus test is required if you want to drive
a school bus to transport children to and from
school or to and from school sponsored events.
ENDORSEMENT
Passenger
 The passenger transport test is required if you want
to drive passenger vehicles designed to transport
16 or more passengers, including the driver.
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*Study Section 6 if you plan to operate vehicles equipped
with air brakes.
Section1 – Introduction
Page 1- 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
1.2 – DRIVER DISQUALIFICATIONS
SERIOUS TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
Serious traffic violations are:
GENERAL

excessive speeding (15
the posted limit);

reckless driving:

improper or erratic lane changes;
It is illegal to operate a CMV if your blood alcohol
concentration (BAC) is .04% or more. If you operate a CMV, you shall be deemed to have given
your consent to alcohol testing.

following a vehicle too close; and

traffic offenses committed in a CMV in connection with fatal traffic accidents:
You will lose your CDL for at least one year for a
first offense for:

driving a CMV without obtaining a CDL;

driving a CMV without a CDL in the driver’s
possession;

driving a CMV when the CDL is suspended;
and

driving a CMV without the proper class of
CDL and/or endorsements for the specific
vehicle group being operated or for the
passengers or type of cargo being transported.
You may not drive a commercial motor vehicle if
you are disqualified for any reason.
ALCOHOL, LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN
ACCIDENT, AND COMMISSION OF A FELONY
 Driving a CMV if your blood alcohol concentration is
.04% or higher.
 Driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol.
 Refusing to undergo blood alcohol testing.
 Driving a CMV while under the influence of a controlled substance.
 Leaving the scene of an accident involving a CMV.
 Committing a felony involving the use of a CMV.
 Driving a 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, including but not limited to the crimes of
motor vehicle manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle, and negligent homicide.
 Also, many of the major violations that occur in a
non-CMV will result in a one-year CDL disqualification.
You will lose your CDL for at least three years if
the offense occurs while you are operating a CMV
that requires a placard for hazardous materials.
You will lose your CDL for life for a second offense.
You will lose your CDL for life if you use a CMV to
commit a felony involving controlled substances.
You will be put out-of-service for 24 hours if you
have any detectable amount of alcohol under .04%.
MPH
or more above
You will lose your CDL:
 For at least 60 days if you have committed two serious traffic violations within a three-year period involving a CMV.
 For at least 120 days for three serious traffic violations within a three-year period involving a CMV.
VIOLATION OF OUT-OF-SERVICE ORDERS
You will lose your CDL:
 For at least 90 days if you have committed your first
violation of an out-of-service violation order.
 For at least one year if you have committed two
out-of-services violation orders in a ten-year period.
 For at least three years if you have committed three
or more out-of-service violation orders in a ten-year
period.
RAILROAD-HIGHWAY GRADE CROSSING
VIOLATIONS
You will lose your CDL:
 For at least 60 days for your first violation.
Section1 – Introduction
Page 1- 4
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 For at least 120 days for your second violation
within any three-year period.
1.3 – Other CDL Rules
 For at least one year for your third violation within
any three-year period.
There are other federal and state rules that affect
drivers operating CMVs in all states. Among them
are:
These violations include violation of a federal,
state, or local law or regulation pertaining to one of
the following six offenses at a railroad-highway
grade crossing:
 You cannot have more than one license.
 For drivers who are not required to always stop,
failing to stop before reaching the crossing if the
tracks are not clear.
 For drivers who are not required to always stop,
failing to slow down and check that the tracks are
clear of an approaching train.
 For drivers who are always required to stop, failing
to stop before driving onto the crossing.
 For all drivers failing to have sufficient space to
drive completely through the crossing without
stopping.
 For all drivers failing to obey a traffic control device
or the directions of an enforcement official at the
crossing.
 For all drivers failing to negotiate a crossing because of insufficient undercarriage clearance.
Hazardous Materials Endorsement Background
Check and Disqualifications
If you require a hazardous materials endorsement,
you will be required to submit your fingerprints and
be subject to a background check.
You will be denied or you will lose your hazardous
materials endorsement if you:
 Are not a lawful permanent resident of the United
States.
 Have renounced your United States citizenship.
 Are wanted or under indictment for certain felonies.
 Have a conviction in military or civilian court for certain felonies.
 Have been adjudicated as a mental defective or
committed to a mental institution.
 You must notify your employer within 30 days of
conviction for any traffic violations (except parking).
This is true no matter what type of vehicle you were
driving.
 You must notify your motor vehicle licensing
agency within 30 days if you are convicted in any
other jurisdiction of any traffic violation (except parking). This is true no matter what type of vehicle you
were driving.
 You must notify your employer if your license is
suspended, revoked, or canceled, or if you are disqualified from driving.
 You must give your employer information on all
driving jobs you have held for the past 10 years.
You must do this when you apply for a commercial
driving job.
 No one can drive a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL. A court may fine you up to $5,000 or put
you in jail for breaking this rule.
 If you have a hazardous materials endorsement
you must notify and surrender your hazardous materials endorsement to the state that issued your
CDL within 24 hours of any conviction or indictment
in any jurisdiction, civilian or military, for, or found
not guilty by reason of insanity of a disqualifying
crime listed in 49 CFR 1572.103; who is adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution as specified in 49 CFR 1572.109; or
who renounces his or her U. S. citizenship;
 Your employer may not let you drive a commercial
motor vehicle if you have more than one license or
if your CDL is suspended or revoked. A court may
fine the employer up to $5,000 or put him/her in jail
for breaking this rule.
 All states are connected to one computerized system to share information about CDL drivers. Each
state will check on drivers' accident records and be
sure that drivers do not have more than one CDL.
 Are considered to pose a security threat as determined by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Contact TSA Customer Service
Representative for the most convenient location
to begin the background check process at:
1-877-429-7746 or www.hazprints.com.
Section1 – Introduction
Page 1- 5
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 2
down on the road that will cost time and dollars, or
even worse, a crash caused by the defect.
DRIVING SAFELY
Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect
their vehicles. Federal and state inspectors also
may inspect your vehicles. If they judge the vehicle
to be unsafe, they will put it "out-of-service" until
the vehicle is fixed.
This Section Covers
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Vehicle Inspection
Basic Control of Your Vehicle
Shifting Gears
Seeing
Communicating
Space Management
Controlling Your Speed
Seeing Hazards
Distracted Driving
Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage
Night Driving
Driving in Fog
Winter Driving
Hot Weather Driving
Railroad-highway Crossings
Mountain Driving
Driving Emergencies
Antilock Braking Systems
Skid Control and Recovery
Accident Procedures
Fires
Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Driving
Staying Alert and Fit to Drive
Hazardous Materials Rules
This section contains knowledge and safe driving
information that all commercial drivers should
know. You must pass a test on this information to
get a CDL. This section does not have specific information on air brakes, combination vehicles,
doubles, or passenger vehicles. You will need to
review those specific sections. When preparing for
the Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection Test, you must review the material in Section 11 in addition to the
information in this section. This section does
have basic information on hazardous materials
(HazMat) that all drivers should know. If you
need a HazMat endorsement, you should study
Section 10.
TYPES OF VEHICLE INSPECTION
Pre-trip Inspection. A pre-trip inspection will help
you find problems that could cause a crash or
breakdown.
During a Trip. For safety you should:
 Watch gauges for signs of trouble.
 Use your senses to check for problems (look, listen,
smell, feel).
 Check critical items when you stop:
 Tires and rims.
 Brakes.
 Lights and reflectors.
 Brake and electrical connections to trailer.
 Trailer coupling devices.
 Cargo secure devices.
Post-trip Inspection and Report. You should do a
post-trip inspection at the end of the trip, day, or tour
of duty on each vehicle you operate. It may include
filling out a vehicle condition report listing any problems you find. The inspection report helps a motor
carrier know when the vehicle or trailer needs repairs.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Tire Problems
 Too much or too little air pressure.
 Bad wear. You need at least 4/32-inch tread depth
in every major groove on front tires. You need 2/32inch on other tires. No fabric should show through
the tread or sidewall.
 Cuts or other damage.
2.1 – Vehicle Inspection
 Tread separation.
WHY INSPECT
 Dual tires that come in contact with each other or
parts of the vehicle.
Safety is the most important reason you inspect
your vehicle, safety for yourself and for other road
users.
 Mismatched sizes.
A vehicle defect found during an inspection could
save you problems later. You could have a break-
 Cut or cracked valve stems.
 Radial and bias-ply tires used together.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Re-grooved, recapped, or re-treaded tires on the
front wheels of a bus are prohibited.
Wheel/Rim Problems
 Damaged rims.
 Rust around wheel lug nuts may mean the lug nuts
are loose—check tightness. After a tire has been
changed, stop a short while later and re-check tightness of lug nuts.
Suspension System Defects. The suspension
system holds up the vehicle and its load. It keeps
the axles in place. Therefore, broken suspension
parts can be extremely dangerous. Look for:
 Spring hangers that allow movement of axle from
proper position. See Figure 2.2.
 Missing clamps, spacers, studs, or lug nuts means
danger.
 Mismatched, bent, or cracked lock rings are dangerous.
 Wheels/rims that have had welding repairs are not
safe.
Bad Brake Drums or Shoes
 Cracked drums.
 Shoes or pads with oil, grease, or brake fluid on
them.
 Shoes worn dangerously thin, missing, or broken.
Steering System Defects
 Missing nuts, bolts, cotter keys, or other parts.
 Bent, loose, or broken parts, such as steering column, steering gear box, or tie rods.
If power steering equipped, check hoses, pumps,
and fluid level; check for leaks. Figure 2.1 illustrates a typical steering system.
Figure 2.2
 Cracked or broken spring hangers.
 Missing or broken leaves on any leaf spring. If onefourth or more are missing, it will put the vehicle
"out-of-service," but any defect could be dangerous.
See Figure 2.3.
Figure 2.1
Figure 2.3
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Broken leaves in a multi-leaf spring or leaves that
have shifted so they might hit a tire or other part.
 Leaking shock absorbers.
 Torque arm, u-bolts, spring hangers, or other axle
positioning parts that are cracked, damaged, or
missing.
 Air suspension systems that are damaged and/or
leaking. See Figure 2.4.
 Any loose, cracked, broken, or missing frame
members.
CDL PRE-TRIP VEHICLE INSPECTION TEST
In order to obtain a CDL you will be required to
pass a pre-trip vehicle inspection test. You will be
tested to see if you know whether your vehicle is
safe to drive. You will be asked to do a pre-trip vehicle inspection and explain to the tester what you
would inspect and how you know an item is in
good, safe working order. The following seven-step
inspection method should be useful.
Seven-step Inspection Method
Method of Inspection. Do a vehicle inspection the
same way each time so you will learn all the steps
and be less likely to forget something.
Vehicle Inspection Report. Review Last Vehicle
Inspection Report. Drivers may have to make a
vehicle inspection report in writing each day. The
motor carrier must repair any items in the report
that affect safety and certify on the report that repairs were made or were unnecessary. You must
sign the report only if defects were noted and certified to be repaired or not needed to be repaired.
Step 1: Vehicle Overview
Figure 2.4
Front
Exhaust System Defects. A broken exhaust system can let poisonous fumes into the cab or
sleeper berth. Look for:
 Loose, broken, or missing exhaust pipes, mufflers,
tailpipes, or vertical stacks.
 Loose, broken, or missing mounting brackets,
clamps, bolts, or nuts.
 Exhaust system parts rubbing against fuel system
parts, tires, or other moving parts of vehicle.
Approaching the Vehicle. Notice general condition. Look for damage or vehicle leaning to one side.
Look under the vehicle for fresh oil, coolant, grease,
or fuel leaks. Check the area around the vehicle for
hazards to vehicle movement (people, other vehicles, objects, low-hanging wires, limbs, etc.).
 Condition of windshield.
 Check wiper blades for damage, "stiff" rubber, and
secure.
 Exhaust system parts that are leaking.
 Check windshield wiper arms for proper spring tension.
Emergency Equipment. Vehicles must be
equipped with emergency equipment. Look for:
 Check Condition of all front lights.
 Fire extinguisher(s).
Step 2: Check Engine Compartment
 Spare electrical fuses (unless equipped with circuit
breakers).
Check That the Parking Brakes Are On and/or
Wheels are Chocked. You may have to raise the
hood, tilt the cab (secure loose things so they don't
fall and break something), or open the engine
compartment door. Check the following:
 Warning devices for parked vehicles (for example,
three reflective warning triangles).
Cargo (Trucks). You must make sure the truck is
not overloaded and the cargo is balanced and secured before each trip. If the cargo contains hazardous materials, you must inspect for proper paperwork and placards.
 Engine oil level.
 Coolant level in radiator; condition of hoses.
 Power steering fluid level; hose condition (if so
equipped).
Section 2 – Driving Safely
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Windshield washer fluid level.
 Battery connections, and tie downs (battery may be
located elsewhere).
 Automatic transmission fluid level (may require engine to be running).
 Check belts for tightness and excessive wear (alternator, water pump, air compressor)—learn how
much “give” the belts should have when adjusted
correctly, and checks each one.
 Leaks in the engine compartment (fuel, coolant, oil,
power steering fluid, and hydraulic fluid).
 Cracked, worn electrical wiring insulation.
Lower and secure hood, cab, or engine compartment door.
Step 3: Start Engine and In-Cab Inspection
 Coolant temperature. Should begin gradual rise to
normal operating range.
 Engine oil temperature. Should begin gradual rise
to normal operating range.
 Warning lights and buzzers for oil, coolant, charging
circuit warning, and antilock brake system (ABS)
lights should go out right away.
 Check Condition of Controls. Check all of the
following for looseness, sticking, damage, or improper setting:
 Steering wheel.
 Clutch.
 Accelerator ("gas pedal").
 Brake controls:
 Foot brake (service brake).
 Trailer brake (if vehicle has one).
Get In and Start Engine
 Parking brake.
 Make sure parking brake is on.
 Retarder controls (if vehicle has them).
 Put gearshift in neutral (or "park" if automatic).
 With the clutch in, start the engine; listen for unusual noises.
 Transmission controls.
 Inter-axle differential lock (if vehicle has one).
 Horn(s).
Look at the Gauges
 Oil pressure. Should come up to normal within seconds after engine is started. See Figure 2.5
 Windshield wiper/washer.
 Lights on dash:
 Headlights.
 Dimmer switch.
 Turn signals.
 Four-way flashers.
 Parking, clearance,
switch(es).
identification,
marker
Check Mirrors and Windshield. Inspect mirrors
and windshield for cracks, dirt, illegal stickers, or
other obstructions to seeing clearly. Clean and adjust as necessary.
Check Emergency Equipment
 Check for safety equipment:
 Spare electrical fuses (unless vehicle has circuit
breakers).
Figure 2.5
 Three red reflective triangles.
 Air pressure. Pressure should build from 85 to 100
PSI within 45 seconds.
 Ammeter and/or voltmeter. Should be in normal
range(s).
 Properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
 Check for optional items such as:
 Chains (where winter conditions require).
 Tire changing equipment.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-4
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 List of emergency phone numbers.
 Condition of brake drum or disc.
 Accident reporting kit (packet).
 Condition of brake linings or pads
 Perform Brake checks during the in-cab inspection.
Step 4: Turn Off Engine and Check Lights
 Condition of hoses.
 Primary and secondary safety cab locks engaged (if
cab-over-engine design).
Make sure the parking brake is set, turn off the
engine, and take the key with you.
 Fuel tank(s).
 Turn on headlights (low beams) and four-way
emergency flashers, and get out of the vehicle and
check if they are working.
 Condition of visible parts:
 Spare tire.
 Rear of engine.
 Go to front of vehicle and check that low beams are
on and both of the four-way flashers are working.
 Transmission.
 Push dimmer switch and check that high beams
work.
 Frame and cross members.
 Turn off headlights and four-way emergency flashers.
 Air lines and electrical wiring.
 Turn on parking, clearance, side-marker, and identification lights.
 Tie downs.
 Turn on right turn signal.
 Exhaust system.
 Drive Shaft.
 Header board.
 Canvas or tarp.
 Cargo compartment doors.
 Turn on left turn signal:
 Parking, clearance, and identification lights are
clean, and proper color (amber at front).
 Reflectors are clean and proper color (amber at
front).
Left Rear Side
 Left rear wheels:
 Condition of rims.
 Condition of tires.
Step 5: Do Walk-around Inspection
 Condition of spacers.
Left Front Side
 Tight lug nuts.
 Wheel bearing/seals.
 Driver's door glass should be clean.
 Door latches or locks should work properly.
 Left front wheel:
 Suspension:
 Condition of rim.
 Condition of spring(s), spring hangers, shackles,
and u-bolts.
 Condition of tire.
 Axle secure.
 Tight lug nuts.
 Powered axle(s) not leaking lube (gear oil).
 Hub oil level is between the add and full mark, no
leaks.
 Condition of torque rod arms, bushings.
 Left front suspension:
 Condition of springs, spring hangers, shackles,
u-bolts.
 Condition of shock absorber.
 Condition of front axle.
 Condition of steering system.
 Left front brake.
 Condition of shock absorber(s).
 If retractable axle equipped, check condition of lift
mechanism. If air powered, check for leaks.
 Condition of air ride components.
 Brakes:
 Condition of brake drum or disc.
 Condition of brake linings or pads.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-5
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Test service brake stopping action.
 Condition of hoses.
 Lights and reflectors:
 Side-marker lights clean and proper color (red at
rear, others amber).
 Side-marker reflectors clean and proper color
(red at rear, others amber).
If you find anything unsafe during the pre-trip inspection, get it fixed. Federal and state laws forbid operating an unsafe vehicle.
INSPECTION DURING A TRIP
Check Vehicle Operation Regularly
Rear
You should check:
 Lights and reflectors:
 Rear clearance and identification lights clean,
and proper color (red at rear).
 Instruments.
 Reflectors clean and proper color (red at rear).
 Temperature gauge.
 Taillights clean and proper color (red at rear).
 Pressure gauge.
 Right and left rear turns are the proper color (red,
yellow, or amber at rear).
 Ammeter/voltmeter.
 License plate(s).
 Air pressure gauge(s) (if you have air brakes).
 Mirrors.
 Tires.
 Splash guards.
 Cargo, cargo covers.
 Tailboards up and properly secured.
 End gates free of damage, properly secured in
stake sockets.
If you see, hear, smell, or feel anything that might
mean trouble, check it out.
 Rear doors securely closed, latched/locked.
 Check all items as done on left side.
Safety Inspection. Drivers of CMVs that are
transporting cargo must inspect the cargo within
the first 50 miles of a trip and every 150 miles or
every three hours (whichever comes first) to ensure it is secured.
Step 6: Check Signal Lights
AFTER-TRIP INSPECTION AND REPORT
 Turn on headlights and four-way emergency flashers, and get out of the vehicle and check if they are
working.
You may have to make a written report each day
on the condition of the vehicle(s), you drove. Report anything affecting safety or possibly leading to
mechanical breakdown.
Right Side
 Go to rear of vehicle and check that tail lights are
on and both of the four-way flashers are working.
 Turn off headlights and four-way emergency flashers.
 Turn on parking, clearance, side-marker, and identification lights.
 Turn on right turn signal.
 Turn on left turn signal
Step 7: Start the Engine and Check Braking
System
 Test for air leaks on air brake equipped vehicles.
 Test for hydraulic leaks on none air brake vehicles.
 Test parking brake.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-6
CDL Driver’s Handbook
only when you have applied enough engine power
to keep from rolling back. On a tractor-trailer
equipped with a trailer air-supply valve, the valve
can be applied to keep from rolling back.
Subsection 2.1
Test Your Knowledge
The vehicle inspection report tells the motor carrier
about problems that may need fixing. Keep a copy
of your report in the vehicle for one day. That way,
the next driver can learn about any problems you
have found.
1. What is the most important reason for doing a
vehicle inspection?
2. What things should you check during a trip?
3. Name some key steering system parts.
4. Name some suspension system defects.
5. What three kinds of emergency equipment
must you have?
6. What is the minimum tread depth for front
tires? For other tires?
7. Name some things you should check on the
front of your vehicle during the walk around inspection.
8. What should wheel bearing seals be checked
for?
9. How many red reflective triangles should you
carry?
10. Why put the starter switch key in your pocket
during the pre-trip inspection?
These questions may be on your test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsection 2.1.
Speed up smoothly and gradually so the vehicle
does not jerk. Rough acceleration can cause mechanical damage. When pulling a trailer, rough
acceleration can damage the coupling.
Speed up very gradually when traction is poor, as
in rain or snow. If you use too much power, the
drive wheels may spin. You could lose control. If
the drive wheels begin to spin, take your foot off
the accelerator.
STEERING
Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands.
Your hands should be on opposite sides of the
wheel. If you hit a curb or a pothole, the wheel
could pull away from your hands unless you have a
firm hold.
STOPPING
Push the brake pedal down gradually. The amount
of brake pressure you need to stop the vehicle will
depend on the speed of the vehicle and how
quickly you need to stop. Control the pressure so
the vehicle comes to a smooth, safe stop. If you
have a manual transmission, push the clutch in
when the engine is close to idle.
2.2 – Basic Control of Your Vehicle
BACKING SAFELY
To drive a vehicle safely, you must be able to control its speed and direction. Safe operation of a
commercial vehicle requires skill in:
Because you cannot see everything behind your
vehicle, backing is always dangerous. Avoid backing whenever you can. When you park, try to park
so you will be able to pull forward when you leave.
When you have to back, here are a few simple
safety rules:
 Accelerating.
 Steering.
 Stopping.
 Start in the proper position.
 Backing safely.
 Look at your path.
 Use mirrors on both sides.
Fasten your seatbelt when on the road. Apply the
parking brake when you leave your vehicle.
 Back slowly.
ACCELERATING
 Back and turn toward the driver's side whenever
possible.
Do not roll back when you start. You may hit
someone or something behind you. If you have a
manual transmission vehicle, partly engage the
clutch before you take your right foot off the brake.
Put on the parking brake whenever necessary to
keep from rolling back. Release the parking brake
 Use a helper whenever possible.
 These rules are discussed in the turn section below.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-7
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Start in the Proper Position. Put the vehicle in
the best position to allow you to back safely. This
position will depend on the type of backing to be
done.
Look at Your Path. Look at your line of travel before you begin. Get out and walk around the vehicle. Check your clearance to the sides and overhead, in and near the path your vehicle will take.
Use Mirrors on Both Sides. Check the outside
mirrors on both sides frequently. Get out of the
vehicle and check your path if you are unsure.
Back Slowly. Always back as slowly as possible.
Use the lowest reverse gear. That way you can
easily correct any steering errors. You also can
stop quickly if necessary.
Back and Turn Toward the Driver's Side. Back
to the driver's side so you can see well. Backing
toward the right side is very dangerous because
you cannot see as well. If you back and turn toward the driver's side, you can watch the rear of
your vehicle by looking out the side window. Use
driver-side backing—even if it means going around
the block to put your vehicle in this position. The
added safety is worth it.
Use a Helper. Use a helper when you can. There
are blind spots you cannot see. That is why a
helper is important. The helper should stand near
the back of your vehicle where you can see the
helper. Before you begin backing, work out a set of
hand signals that you both understand. Agree on a
signal for "stop."
2.3 – Shifting Gears
Correct shifting of gears is important. If you cannot
get your vehicle into the right gear while driving,
you will have less control.
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 accelerator, push in clutch and shift to neutral at the same time.
 Release clutch.
 Let engine and gears slow down to the RPM required for the next gear (this takes practice).
 Push in clutch and shift to the higher gear at the
same time.
 Release clutch and press accelerator at the same
time.
Shifting gears using double clutching requires
practice. If you remain too long in neutral, you may
have difficulty putting the vehicle into the next
gear. If so, do not try to force it. Return to neutral,
release clutch, increase engine speed to match
road speed, and try again.
Knowing When to Shift Up. There are two ways
of knowing when to shift:
Use Engine Speed (RPM). Study the driver's
manual for your vehicle and learn the operating
RPM range. Watch your tachometer, and shift up
when your engine reaches the top of the range.
(Some newer vehicles use "progressive" shifting:
the RPM at which you shift becomes higher as you
move up in the gears. Find out what is right for the
vehicle you will operate.)
Use Road Speed (MPH). Learn what speeds each
gear is good for. Then, by using the speedometer,
you will know when to shift up.
With either method, you may learn to use engine
sounds to know when to shift.
Basic Procedures for Shifting Down
 Release accelerator, push in clutch, and shift to
neutral at the same time.
 Release clutch.
 Press accelerator, increase engine and gear speed
to the RPM required in the lower gear.
 Push in clutch and shift to lower gear at the same
time.
 Release clutch and press accelerator at the same
time.
 Downshifting, like up shifting, requires knowing
when to shift. Use either the tachometer or the
speedometer and downshift at the right RPM or
road speed.
Special conditions where you should downshift
are:
Before Starting Down a Hill. Slow down and shift
down to a speed that you can control without using
the brakes hard. Otherwise, the brakes can overheat and lose their braking power.
Downshift before starting down the hill. Make sure
you are in a low enough gear, usually lower than
the gear required climbing the same hill.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-8
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Before Entering a Curve. Slow down to a safe
speed, and downshift to the right gear before entering the curve. This lets you use some power
through the curve to help the vehicle be more stable while turning. It also allows you to speed up as
soon as you are out of the curve.
MULTI-SPEED REAR AXLES AND AUXILIARY
TRANSMISSIONS
Multi-speed rear axles and auxiliary transmissions
are used on many vehicles to provide extra gears.
You usually control them by a selector knob or
switch on the gearshift lever of the main transmission. There are many different shift patterns. Learn
the proper way to shift gears in the vehicle you will
drive.
AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS
Some vehicles have automatic transmissions. You
can select a low range to get greater engine braking when going down grades. The lower ranges
prevent the transmission from shifting up beyond
the selected gear (unless the governor RPM is exceeded). It is very important to use this braking
effect when going down grades.
Subsections 2.2 and 2.3
Test Your Knowledge
1. Why should you back toward the driver's side?
2. If stopped on a hill, how can you start moving
without rolling back?
3. When backing, why is it important to use a
helper?
4. What's the most important hand signal that you
and the helper should agree on?
5. What are the two special conditions where you
should downshift?
6. When should you downshift automatic transmissions?
7. Retarders keep you from skidding when the
road is slippery. True or False?
8. What are the two ways to know when to shift?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.2 and 2.3.
2.4 – Seeing
To be a safe driver you need to know what is going
on all around your vehicle. Not looking properly is a
major cause of accidents.
RETARDERS
Some vehicles have "retarders." Retarders help
slow a vehicle, reducing the need for using your
brakes. They reduce brake wear and give you another way to slow down. There are four basic types
of retarders (exhaust, engine, hydraulic, and electric). All retarders can be turned on or off by the
driver. On some vehicles the retarding power can
be adjusted. When turned "on," retarders apply
their braking power (to the drive wheels only)
whenever you let up on the accelerator pedal all
the way. During the CDL Skill Tests, the retarder
cannot be used.
Because these devices can be noisy, be sure you
know where their use is permitted.
Caution. When your drive wheels have poor traction, the retarder may cause them to skid. Therefore, you should turn the retarder off whenever the
road is wet, icy, or snow covered.
SEEING AHEAD
All drivers look ahead; but many do not look far
enough ahead.
Importance of Looking Far Enough Ahead. Because stopping or changing lanes can take a lot of
distance, knowing what the traffic is doing on all
sides of you is very important. You need to look
well ahead to make sure you have room to make
these moves safely.
How Far Ahead to Look. Most good drivers look
at least 12 to 15 seconds ahead. That means looking ahead the distance you will travel in 12 to 15
seconds. At lower speeds, that is about one block.
At highway speeds it's about a quarter of a mile. If
you are not looking that far ahead, you may have
to stop too quickly or make quick lane changes.
Looking 12 to 15 seconds ahead does not mean
not paying attention to things that are closer. Good
drivers shift their attention back and forth, near and
far. Figure 2.6 illustrates how far to look ahead.
Look for Traffic. Look for vehicles coming onto
the highway, into your lane, or turning. Watch for
brake lights from slowing vehicles. By seeing these
things far enough ahead, you can change your
speed, or change lanes if necessary to avoid a
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-9
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Lane Changes. You need to check your mirrors to
make sure no one is alongside you or about to
pass you. Check your mirrors:
 Before you change lanes to make sure there is
enough room.
 After you have signaled, check that no one has
moved into your blind spot.
 Right after you start the lane change, double-check
that your path is clear.
 After you complete the lane change.
Figure 2.6
Turns. In turns, check your mirrors to make sure
the rear of your vehicle will not hit anything.
problem. If a traffic light has been green for a long
time it will probably change before you get there.
Start slowing down and be ready to stop.
SEEING TO THE SIDES AND REAR
It is important to know what is going on behind and
to the sides of the vehicle. Check your mirrors
regularly. Check more often in special situations.
Mirror Adjustment. Mirror adjustment should be
checked prior to the start of any trip and can only
be checked accurately when the trailer(s) are
straight. You should check and adjust each mirror
to show some part of the vehicle. This will give you
a reference point for judging the position of the
other images.
Regular Checks. You need to make regular
checks of your mirrors to be aware of traffic and to
check your vehicle. About every 7 – 15 seconds.
Merges. When merging, use your mirrors to make
sure the gap in traffic is large enough for you to
enter safely.
Tight Maneuvers. Any time you are driving in
close quarters, check your mirrors often. Make
sure you have enough clearance.
How to Use Mirrors. Use mirrors correctly by checking them quickly and understanding what you see.
 When you use your mirrors while driving on the
road, check quickly. Look back and forth between
the mirrors and the road ahead. Do not focus on
the mirrors for too long. Otherwise, you will travel
quite a distance without knowing what is happening ahead.
 Many large vehicles have curved (convex, "fisheye," "spot," "bug eye") mirrors that show a wider
area than flat mirrors. This is often helpful. But eve-
Traffic. Check your mirrors for vehicles on either
side and in back of you. In an emergency, you may
need to know whether you can make a quick lane
change. Use your mirrors to spot overtaking vehicles. There are "blind spots" that your mirrors cannot show you. Check your mirrors regularly to
know where other vehicles are around you, and to
see if they move into your blind spots.
Check Your Vehicle. Use the mirrors to keep an
eye on your tires. It's one way to spot a tire fire. If
you are carrying open cargo, you can use the mirrors to check it. Look for loose straps, ropes, or
chains. Watch for a flapping or ballooning tarp.
Special Situations. Special situations require
more than regular mirror checks. These are lane
changes, turns, merges, and tight maneuvers.
Figure 2.7
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-10
CDL Driver’s Handbook
rything appears smaller in a convex mirror than it
would if you were looking at it directly. Things also
seem farther away than they really are. It is important to realize this and to allow for it. Figure 2.7
shows the field of vision using a convex mirror.
2.5 – Communicating
SIGNAL YOUR INTENTIONS
Other drivers do not know what you are going to do
until you tell them.
 Driving Slowly. Drivers often do not realize how
fast they are catching up to a slow vehicle until they
are very close. If you must drive slowly, alert following drivers by turning on your emergency flashers, if
it is legal. (Laws regarding the use of flashers differ
from one state to another. Check the laws of the
states where you will drive.)
Do not Direct Traffic. Some drivers try to help
others by signaling when it is safe to pass. You
should not do this. You could cause an accident.
You could be blamed and it could cost you thousands of dollars.
Signaling what you intend to do is important for
safety. Here are some general rules for signaling.
COMMUNICATING YOUR PRESENCE
Turns. There are three good rules for using turn
signals:
Other drivers may not notice your vehicle even
when it is in plain sight. To help prevent accidents,
let them know you are there.
 Signal early. Signal well before you turn. It is the
best way to keep others from trying to pass you.
 Signal continuously. You need both hands on the
wheel to turn safely. Do not cancel the signal until
you have completed the turn.
 Cancel your signal. Do not forget to turn off your
turn signal after you have turned (if you don't have
self-canceling signals).
Lane Changes. Put your turn signal on before
changing lanes. Change lanes slowly and smoothly.
That way a driver you did not see may have a
chance to honk his/her horn, or avoid your vehicle.
Slowing Down. Warn drivers behind you when
you know you will need to slow down. A few light
taps on the brake pedal—enough to flash the
brake lights—should warn following drivers. Use
the four-way emergency flashers for times when
you are driving very slowly or are stopped. Warn
other drivers in any of the following situations:
 Trouble Ahead. The size of your vehicle may
make it hard for drivers behind you to see hazards
ahead. If you see a hazard that will require slowing
down, warn the drivers behind by flashing your
brake lights.
 Tight Turns. Most car drivers do not know how
slow you have to go to make a tight turn in a large
vehicle. Give drivers behind you warning by braking
early and slowing gradually.
 Stopping on the Road. Truck and bus drivers
sometimes stop in the roadway to unload cargo or
passengers, or to stop at a railroad crossing. Warn
following drivers by flashing your brake lights or by
turning on your four-way emergency flashers. Do
not stop suddenly.
When Passing. Whenever you are about to pass a
vehicle, pedestrian, or bicyclist, assume they do
not see you. They could suddenly move in front of
you. When it is legal, tap the horn lightly or, at
night, flash your lights from low to high beam and
back. Drive carefully enough to avoid a crash even
if they do not see or hear you.
When it is Hard to See. At dawn, dusk, in rain, or
snow, make yourself easier to see. If you are having trouble seeing other vehicles, other drivers will
have trouble seeing you. Turn on your lights. Use
the headlights, not just the identification or clearance lights. Use the low beams; high beams can
bother people in the daytime as well as at night.
When Parked at the Side of the Road. When you
pull off the road and stop, be sure to turn on the
four-way emergency flashers. This is important at
night. Do not trust the taillights to give warning.
Drivers have crashed into the rear of a parked vehicle because they thought it was moving normally.
If you must stop on a road or a shoulder of any
road, you must put out your emergency reflector
triangles, within ten minutes. Place your reflector
triangles at the following locations:
If you must stop on or by a one-way or divided
highway, place reflector triangles 10 feet, 100 feet,
and 200 feet toward the approaching traffic. See
Figure 2.8.
If you stop on a two-lane road carrying traffic in both
directions or on an undivided highway, place warning devices within 10 feet of the front or rear corners
to mark the location of the vehicle and 100 feet behind and ahead of the vehicle, on the shoulder or in
the lane you stopped in. See Figure 2.9.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-11
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Back beyond any hill, curve, or other obstruction
that prevents other drivers from seeing the vehicle
within 500 feet. If line of sight view is obstructed
due to hill or curve, move the rear-most triangle to
a point back down the road so warning is provided.
See Figure 2.10.
Figure 2.8
Figure 2.10
Figure 2.9
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-12
CDL Driver’s Handbook
When putting out the triangles, hold them between
yourself and the oncoming traffic for your own
safety. (So other drivers can see you.)
Use Your Horn When Needed. Your horn can let
others know you are there. It can help to avoid a
crash. Use your horn when needed. However, it
can startle others and could be dangerous when
used unnecessarily.
2.6 – Controlling Speed
Driving too fast is a major cause of fatal crashes.
You must adjust your speed depending on driving
conditions. These include traction, curves, visibility,
traffic and hills.
STOPPING DISTANCE
Perception Distance + Reaction Distance + Braking Distance = Total Stopping Distance
Perception Distance. This is the distance your
vehicle travels from the time your eyes see a hazard until your brain recognizes it. The perception
time for an alert driver is about ¾ second. At 55
MPH, you travel 60 feet in ¾ second or about 81
feet per second.
Reaction Distance. The distance traveled from
the time your brain tells your foot to move from the
accelerator until your foot is actually pushing the
brake pedal. The average driver has a reaction
time of ¾ second. This accounts for an additional
60 feet traveled at 55 MPH.
Stopping Distance Chart
Miles
Per
Hour
15 MPH
How Far
The Rig
Will
Travel in
One
Second
22 ft.
Driver
Reaction
Distance
17 ft.
30 MPH
44 ft.
33 ft.
115 ft.
148 ft.
45 MPH
66 ft.
50 ft.
260 ft.
310 ft.
50 MPH
73 ft.
55 ft.
320 ft.
375 ft.
55 MPH
81 ft.
61 ft.
390 ft.
451 ft.
Vehicle
Braking
Distance
29 ft.
Total
Stopping
Distance
46 ft.
Figure 2.11
The Effect of Vehicle Weight on Stopping Distance. The heavier the vehicle, the more work the
brakes must do to stop it and the more heat they
absorb. But the brakes, tires, springs, and shock
absorbers on heavy vehicles are designed to work
best when the vehicle is fully loaded. Empty trucks
require greater stopping distances because an
empty vehicle has less traction.
MATCHING SPEED TO THE ROAD SURFACE
You cannot steer or brake a vehicle unless you
have traction. Traction is friction between the tires
and the road. There are some road conditions that
reduce traction and call for lower speeds.
Braking Distance. The distance it takes to stop
once the brakes are put on. At 55 MPH on dry
pavement with good brakes, it can take a heavy
vehicle about 390 feet to stop. It takes about 4½
seconds.
Slippery Surfaces. It will take longer to stop, and
it will be harder to turn without skidding, when the
road is slippery. Wet roads can double stopping
distance. You must drive slower to be able to stop
in the same distance as on a dry road. Reduce
speed by about one-third (e.g., slow from 55 to
about 35 MPH) on a wet road. On packed snow,
reduce speed by a half, or more. If the surface is
icy, reduce speed to a crawl and stop driving as
soon as you can safely do so.
Total Stopping Distance. At 55 MPH, it will take
about 6 seconds to stop and your vehicle will travel
about 450 feet.
Identifying Slippery Surfaces. Sometimes it is
hard to know if the road is slippery. Here are some
signs of slippery roads:
The Effect of Speed on Stopping Distance.
Whenever you double your speed, it takes about
four times as much distance to stop and your vehicle will have four times the destructive power if it
crashes. High speeds increase stopping distances
greatly. By slowing down a little, you can gain a lot
in reduced braking distance. See Figure 2.11
 Shaded Areas. Shady parts of the road will remain
icy and slippery long after open areas have melted.
 Bridges. When the temperature drops, bridges will
freeze before the road will. Be especially careful
when the temperature is close to 32º Fahrenheit.
 Melting Ice. Slight melting will make ice wet. Wet
ice is much more slippery than ice that is not wet.
 Black Ice. Black ice is a thin layer that is clear
enough that you can see the road underneath it. It
makes the road look wet. Any time the temperature
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
is below freezing and the road looks wet, watch out
for black ice.
 Vehicle Icing. An easy way to check for ice is to
open the window and feel the front of the mirror,
mirror support, or antenna. If there is ice on these,
the road surface is probably starting to ice up.
 Just After Rain Begins. Right after it starts to rain,
the water mixes with oil left on the road by vehicles.
This makes the road very slippery. If the rain continues, it will wash the oil away.
 Hydroplaning. In some weather, water or slush
collects on the road. When this happens, your vehicle can hydroplane. It is like water skiing—the tires
lose their contact with the road and have little or no
traction. You may not be able to steer or brake. You
can regain control by releasing the accelerator and
pushing in the clutch. This will slow your vehicle
and let the wheels turn freely. If the vehicle is hydroplaning, do not use the brakes to slow down. If
the drive wheels start to skid, push in the clutch to
let them turn freely.
It does not take a lot of water to cause hydroplaning. Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as
30 MPH if there is a lot of water. Hydroplaning is
more likely if tire pressure is low, or the tread is
worn. (The grooves in a tire carry away the water;
if they are not deep, they do not work well.)
Road surfaces where water can collect can create
conditions that cause a vehicle to hydroplane.
Watch for clear reflections, tire splashes, and raindrops on the road. These are indications of standing water.
SPEED AND CURVES
Drivers must adjust their speed for curves in the
road. If you take a curve too fast, two things can
happen. The tires can lose their traction and continue straight ahead, so you skid off the road. Or,
the tires may keep their traction and the vehicle
rolls over. Tests have shown that trucks with a high
center of gravity can roll over at the posted speed
limit for a curve.
Slow down to a safe speed before you enter a
curve. Braking in a curve is dangerous because it
is easier to lock the wheels and cause a skid. Slow
down as needed. Do not ever exceed the posted
speed limit for the curve. Be in a gear that will let
you accelerate slightly in the curve. This will help
you keep control.
SPEED AND DISTANCE AHEAD
You should always be able to stop within the distance you can see ahead. Fog, rain, or other conditions may require that you slow down to be able
to stop in the distance you can see. At night, you
cannot see as far with low beams as you can with
high beams. When you must use low beams, slow
down.
SPEED AND TRAFFIC FLOW
When you are driving in heavy traffic, the safest
speed is the speed of other vehicles. Vehicles going the same direction at the same speed are not
likely to run into one another. In many states,
speed limits are lower for trucks and buses than for
cars. It can vary as much as 15 MPH. Use extra
cautions when you change lanes or pass on these
roadways. Drive at the speed of the traffic, if you
can without going at an illegal or unsafe speed.
Keep a safe following distance.
The main reason drivers exceed speed limits are to
save time. But, anyone trying to drive faster than
the speed of traffic will not be able to save much
time. The risks involved are not worth it. If you go
faster than the speed of other traffic, you will have
to keep passing other vehicles. This increases the
chance of a crash and it is more tiring. Fatigue increases the chance of a crash. Going with the flow
of traffic is safer and easier.
SPEED ON DOWNGRADES
Your vehicle's speed will increase on downgrades
because of gravity. Your most important objective
is to select and maintain a speed that is not too
fast for the:
 Total weight of the vehicle and cargo.
 Length of the grade.
 Steepness of the grade.
 Road conditions.
 Weather.
If the speed limit is posted, or there is a sign indicating "Maximum Safe Speed," never exceed the
speed shown. Also, look for and heed warning signs
indicating the length and steepness of the grade.
You must use the braking effect of the engine as the
principal way of controlling your speed on downgrades. The braking effect of the engine is greatest
when it is near the governed RPMS and the transmission is in the lower gears. Save your brakes so
you will be able to slow or stop as required by road
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
and traffic conditions. Shift your transmission to a
low gear before starting down the grade and use the
proper braking techniques. Please read carefully the
section on going down long, steep downgrades
safely in "Mountain Driving."
ROADWAY WORK ZONES
Speeding traffic is the number one cause of injury
and death in roadway work zones. Observe the
posted speed limits at all times when approaching
and driving through a work zone. Watch your
speedometer, and do not allow your speed to creep
up as you drive through long sections of road construction. Decrease your speed for adverse weather
or road conditions. Decrease your speed even further when a worker is close to the roadway.
Subsections 2.4, 2.5, and 2.6
Test Your Knowledge
1. How far ahead does the handbook say you
should look?
2. What are two main things to look for ahead?
3. What is your most important way to see the
sides and rear of your vehicle?
4. What does "communicating" mean in safe driving?
5. Where should your triangles be placed when
stopped on a divided highway?
6. What three things add up to total stopping distance?
7. If you go twice as fast, will your stopping distance increase by two or four times?
8. Empty trucks have the best braking. True or
False?
9. What is hydroplaning?
10. What is "black ice”?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.4, 2.5, and
2.6.
SPACE AHEAD
Of all the space around your vehicle, it is the area
ahead of the vehicle—the space you are driving
into—that is most important.
The Need for Space Ahead. You need space
ahead in case you must suddenly stop. According to
accident reports, the vehicle that trucks and buses
most often run into is the one in front of them. The
most frequent cause is following too closely. Remember, if the vehicle ahead of you is smaller than
yours, it can probably stop faster than you can. You
may crash if you are following too closely.
How Much Space? How much space should you
keep in front of you? One good rule says you need
at least one second for each 10 feet of vehicle
length at speeds below 40 MPH. At greater speeds,
you must add 1 second for safety. For example, if
you are driving a 40-foot vehicle, you should leave
4 seconds between you and the vehicle ahead. In
a 60-foot vehicle, you will need 6 seconds. Over 40
MPH, you would need 5 seconds for a 40-foot vehicle and 7 seconds for a 60-foot vehicle. See Figure
2.12.
To know how much space you have, wait until the
vehicle ahead passes a shadow on the road, a
pavement marking, or some other clear landmark.
Then count off the seconds like this: "one thousand- and-one, one thousand-and-two" and so on,
until you reach the same spot. Compare your count
with the rule of one second for every ten feet of
length.
If you are driving a 40-foot truck and only counted
up to 2 seconds, you are too close. Drop back a
little and count again until you have 4 seconds of
following distance (or 5 seconds, if you're going
over 40 MPH). After a little practice, you will know
how far back you should be. Remember to add 1
second for speeds above 40 MPH. Also, remember
that when the road is slippery, you need much
more space to stop.
SPACE BEHIND
2.7 – Managing Space
To be a safe driver, you need space all around
your vehicle. When things go wrong, space gives
you time to think and to take action.
You cannot stop others from following you too
closely. But there are things you can do to make it
safer.
To have space available when something goes
wrong, you need to manage space. While this is
true for all drivers, it is very important for large vehicles. They take up more space and they require
more space for stopping and turning.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
easier for the tailgater to get around you.
 Do not speed up. It is safer to be tailgated at a low
speed than a high speed.
 Avoid tricks. Do not turn on your taillights or flash
your brake lights. Follow the suggestions above.
SPACE TO THE SIDES
Commercial vehicles are often wide and take up
most of a lane. Safe drivers will manage what little
space they have. You can do this by keeping your
vehicle centered in your lane, and avoid driving
alongside others.
Staying Centered in a Lane. You need to keep
your vehicle centered in the lane to keep safe
clearance on either side. If your vehicle is wide,
you have little room to spare.
Traveling Next to Others. There are two dangers
in traveling alongside other vehicles:
 Another driver may change lanes suddenly and turn
into you.
 You may be trapped when you need to change
lanes.
Figure 2.12
Stay to the Right. Heavy vehicles are often tailgated when they cannot keep up with the speed of
traffic. This often happens when you are going uphill. If a heavy load is slowing you down, stay in the
right lane if you can. While going uphill, you should
not pass another slow vehicle unless you can get
around quickly and safely.
Dealing with Tailgaters Safely. In a large vehicle,
it is often hard to see whether a vehicle is close
behind you. You may be tailgated:
 When you are traveling slowly. Drivers trapped behind slow vehicles often follow closely.
Find an open spot where you are not near other
traffic. When traffic is heavy, it may be hard to find
an open spot. If you must travel near other vehicles, try to keep as much space as possible between you and them. Also, drop back or pull forward so that you are sure the other driver can see
you.
Strong Winds. Strong winds make it difficult to
stay in your lane. The problem is usually worse for
lighter vehicles. This problem can be especially
bad coming out of tunnels. Do not drive alongside
others if you can avoid it.
SPACE OVERHEAD
 In bad weather. Many car drivers follow large vehicles closely during bad weather, especially when it
is hard to see the road ahead.
Hitting overhead objects is a danger. Make sure
you always have overhead clearance.
If you find yourself being tailgated, here are some
things you can do to reduce the chances of a
crash.
 Do not assume that the heights posted at bridges
and overpasses are correct. Re-paving or packed
snow may have reduced the clearances since the
heights were posted.
 Avoid quick changes. If you have to slow down or
turn, signal early, and reduce speed very gradually.
 Increase your following distance. Opening up room
in front of you will help you to avoid having to make
sudden speed or direction changes. It also makes it
 The weight of a cargo van changes its height. An
empty van is higher than a loaded one. Because
you went under a bridge when you were loaded
does not mean that you can do it when you are
empty.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 If you doubt you have safe space to pass under an
object, go slowly. If you are not sure you can make
it, take another route. Warnings are often posted on
low bridges or underpasses, but sometimes they
are not.
 Some roads can cause a vehicle to tilt. There can
be a problem clearing objects along the edge of the
road, such as signs, trees, or bridge supports.
Drive a little closer to the center of the road, where
this is a problem.
 Before you back into an area, get out and check for
overhanging objects such as trees, branches, or
electrical wires. It is easy to miss seeing them while
you are backing. (Also, check for other hazards at
the same time.)
SPACE BELOW
Many drivers forget about the space under their
vehicles. That space can be very small when a
vehicle is heavily loaded. This is often a problem
on dirt roads and on unpaved yards. Do not take a
chance on getting hung up. Drainage channels
across roads can cause the ends of some vehicles
to drag. Cross such depressions carefully.
Figure 2.13
behind you. See Figure 2.13.
Left Turns. On a left turn, make sure you have
reached the center of the intersection before you
start the left turn. If you turn too soon, the left side
of your vehicle may hit another vehicle because of
off tracking.
If there are two turning lanes, always take the right
turn lane. Do not start in the inside lane because
you may have to swing right to make the turn.
Drivers on your left can be seen easier. See Figure
2.14.
Railroad tracks can also cause problems, particularly when pulling trailers with a low underneath
clearance. Do not take a chance on getting hung
up halfway across.
SPACE FOR TURNS
The space around a truck or bus is important in
turns. Because of wide turning and off tracking,
large vehicles can hit other vehicles or objects during turns.
Right Turns. Here are some rules to help prevent
right-turn crashes:
 Turn slowly to give yourself and others more time to
avoid problems.
 If you are driving a truck or bus that cannot make
the right turn without swinging into another lane,
turn wide as you complete the turn. Keep the rear
of your vehicle close to the curb. This will stop other
drivers from passing you on the right.
 Do not turn wide to the left as you start the turn.
The driver following may think you are turning left
and try to pass you on the right. You may crash into
the other vehicle as you complete your turn.
 If you must cross into the oncoming lane to make
a turn, watch out for vehicles coming toward you.
Give them room to go by or to stop. However, do not
back up for them, because you might hit someone
Figure 2.14
SPACE NEEDED TO CROSS OR ENTER
TRAFFIC
Be aware of the size and weight of your vehicle
when you cross or enter traffic. Here are some important things to keep in mind.
 Because of slow acceleration and the space large
vehicles require, you may need a much larger gap
to enter traffic than you would in a car.
 Acceleration varies with the load. Allow more room
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
if your vehicle is heavily loaded.
 Before you start across a road, make sure you
can get all the way across before traffic reaches
you.
2.8 – Seeing Hazards
IMPORTANCE OF SEEING HAZARDS
What Is a Hazard? A hazard is any road condition
or other road user (driver, bicyclist, pedestrian) that
is a possible danger. For example, a car in front of
you is headed toward the freeway exit, but his
brake lights come on and he begins braking hard.
This could mean that the driver is uncertain about
taking the off ramp. He might suddenly return to
the highway. This car is a hazard. If the driver of
the car cuts in front of you, it is no longer just a
hazard; it is an emergency.
Seeing Hazards Lets You Be Prepared. You will
have more time to act if you see hazards before
they become emergencies. In the example above,
you might make a lane change or slow down to
prevent a crash if the car suddenly cuts in front of
you. Seeing this hazard gives you, time to check
your mirrors and signal a lane change. Being prepared reduces the danger. A driver who did not
see the hazard until the slow car pulled back on
the highway in front of him would have to do something very suddenly. Sudden braking or a quick
lane change is much more likely to lead to a crash.
Learning to See Hazards. There are often clues
that will help you see hazards. The more you drive,
the better you can learn to see hazards. This section will talk about hazards you should be aware of.
HAZARDOUS ROADS
Slow down and be very careful if you see any of
the following road hazards.
Work Zones. When people are working on the
road, it is a hazard. There may be narrower lanes,
sharp turns, or uneven surfaces. Other drivers are
often distracted and drive unsafely. Workers and
construction vehicles may get in the way. Drive
slowly and carefully near work zones. Use your
four-way flashers or brake lights to warn drivers
behind you.
Drop Off. Sometimes the pavement drops off
sharply near the edge of the road. Driving too
close to the edge can tilt your vehicle toward the
side of the road. This can cause the top of your
vehicle to hit roadside objects (signs, tree limbs).
Also, it can be hard to steer as you cross the drop
off, going off the road, or coming back on.
Foreign Objects. Things that have fallen on the
road can be hazards. They can be a danger to
your tires and wheel rims. They can damage electrical and brake lines. They can be caught between
dual tires and cause severe damage. Some obstacles that appear to be harmless can be very dangerous. For example, cardboard boxes may be
empty, but they may also contain some solid or
heavy material capable of causing damage. The
same is true of paper and cloth sacks. It is important to remain alert for objects of all sorts, so you
can see them early enough to avoid them without
making sudden, unsafe moves.
Off Ramps/On Ramps. Freeway and turnpike exits can be particularly dangerous for commercial
vehicles. Off ramps and on ramps often have
speed limit signs posted. Remember, these speeds
may be safe for automobiles, but may not be safe
for larger vehicles or heavily loaded vehicles. Exits
that go downhill and turn at the same time can be
especially dangerous. The downgrade makes it
difficult to reduce speed. Braking and turning at the
same time can be a dangerous practice. Make
sure you are going slow enough before you get on
the curved part of an off ramp or on ramp.
DRIVERS WHO ARE HAZARDS
In order to protect yourself and others, you must
know when other drivers may do something hazardous. Some clues to this type of hazard are discussed below.
Blocked Vision. People who cannot see others
are a very dangerous hazard. Be alert for drivers
whose vision is blocked. Vans, loaded station
wagons, and cars with the rear window blocked are
examples. Rental trucks should be watched carefully. Their drivers are often not used to the limited
vision they have to the sides and rear of the truck.
In winter, vehicles with frosted, ice-covered, or
snow-covered windows are hazards.
Vehicles may be partly hidden by blind intersections
or alleys. If you can only see the rear or front end of
a vehicle but not the driver, then he or she cannot
see you. Be alert because they may back out or
enter into your lane. Always be prepared to stop.
Delivery Trucks Can Present a Hazard. Packages or vehicle doors often block the driver’s vision. Drivers of step vans, postal vehicles, and local delivery vehicles often are in a hurry and may
suddenly step out of their vehicle or drive their vehicle into the traffic lane.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
Parked Vehicles Can Be Hazards, especially
when people start to get out of them. Or, they may
suddenly start up and drive into your way. Watch
for movement inside the vehicle or movement of
the vehicle itself that shows people are inside.
Watch for brake lights or backup lights, exhaust,
and other clues that a driver is about to move.
Be careful of a stopped bus. Passengers may
cross in front of or behind the bus and they often
cannot see you.
Pedestrians and Bicyclists Can Also Be Hazards. Walkers, joggers, and bicyclists may be on
the road with their back to the traffic, so they cannot see you. Sometimes they wear portable stereos with headsets, so they cannot hear you either.
This can be dangerous. On rainy days, pedestrians
may not see you because of hats or umbrellas.
They may be hurrying to get out of the rain and
may not pay attention to the traffic.
Distractions. People who are distracted are hazards. Watch for where they are looking. If they are
looking elsewhere, they cannot see you. But be
alert even when they are looking at you. They may
believe that they have the right of way.
Children. Children tend to act quickly without
checking traffic. Children playing with one another
may not look for traffic and are a serious hazard.
Talkers. Drivers or pedestrians talking to one another
may not be paying close attention to the traffic.
Workers. People working on or near the roadway
are a hazard clue. The work creates a distraction
for other drivers and the workers themselves may
not see you.
Ice Cream Trucks. Someone selling ice cream is
a hazard clue. Children may be nearby and may
not see you.
Disabled Vehicles. Drivers changing a tire or fixing an engine often do not pay attention to the
danger that roadway traffic is to them. They are
often careless. Jacked up wheels or raised hoods
are hazard clues.
Crashes. Crashes are particularly hazardous.
People involved in the crashes may not look for
traffic. Passing drivers tend to look at the crashes.
People often run across the road without looking.
Vehicles may slow or stop suddenly.
Shoppers. People in and around shopping areas
are often not watching traffic because they are
looking for stores or looking into store windows.
Confused Drivers. Confused drivers often change
direction suddenly or stop without warning. Confusion is common near freeway or turnpike interchanges and major intersections. Tourists unfamiliar with the area can be very hazardous. Clues of
tourists include car-top luggage and out-of-state
license plates. Unexpected actions (stopping in the
middle of a block, changing lanes for no apparent
reason, backup lights suddenly going on) are clues
of confusion. Hesitation is another clue, including
driving very slowly, using brakes often, or stopping
in the middle of an intersection. You may also see
drivers who are looking at street signs, maps, and
house numbers. These drivers may not be paying
attention to you.
Slow Drivers. Motorists who fail to maintain normal speed are hazards. Seeing slow moving vehicles early can prevent a crash. Some vehicles, by
their nature, are slow and seeing them is a hazard
clue (mopeds, farm machinery, construction machinery, tractors, etc.). Some of these will have the
"slow moving vehicle" symbol to warn you. This is
a red triangle with an orange center. Watch for it.
Drivers Signaling a Turn May Be a Hazard. Drivers signaling a turn may slow more than expected
or stop. If they are making a tight turn into an alley
or driveway, they may go very slow. If pedestrians
or other vehicles block them, they may have to
stop on the roadway. Vehicles turning left may
have to stop for oncoming vehicles.
Drivers in a Hurry. Drivers may feel your commercial vehicle is preventing them from getting
where they want to go on time. Such drivers may
pass you without a safe gap in the oncoming traffic, cutting too close in front of you. Drivers entering the road may pull in front of you in order to
avoid being stuck behind you, causing you to
brake. Be aware of this and watch for drivers who
are in a hurry.
Impaired Drivers. Drivers who are sleepy, have
had too much to drink, are on drugs, or who are ill
are hazards. Some clues of these drivers are:
 Weaving across the road or drifting from one side to
another.
 Leaving the road (dropping right wheels onto the
shoulder, or bumping across a curb in a turn).
 Stopping at the wrong time (stopping at a green
light, or waiting for too long at a stop).
 Open window in cold weather.
 Speeding up or slowing down suddenly, driving too
fast or too slow.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
Be alert for drunk drivers and sleepy drivers late at
night.
Driver Body Movement as a Clue. Drivers look in
the direction they’re going to turn. You may get a
clue from a driver's head and body movements that
a driver may be going to make a turn, even though
the turn signals are not on. Drivers making over-theshoulder checks may be going to change lanes.
These clues are most easily seen in motorcyclists
and bicyclists. Watch other road users and try to tell
whether they might do something hazardous.
Conflicts. You are in conflict when you have to
change speed and/or direction to avoid hitting
someone. Conflicts occur at intersections where
vehicles meet, at merges (such as turnpike on
ramps), and where there are needed lane changes
(such as the end of a lane, forcing a move to another lane of traffic). Other situations include slow
moving or stalled traffic in a traffic lane and accident scenes. Watch for other drivers who are in
conflict because they are a hazard to you. When
they react to this conflict, they may do something
that will put them in conflict with you.
ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN
Always look for hazards. Continue to learn to see
hazards on the road. However, do not forget why
you are looking for the hazards—they may turn into
emergencies. Look for the hazards to have time to
plan a way out of any emergency. When you see a
hazard, think about the emergencies that could
develop and figure out what you would do. Always
be prepared to take action based on your plans. In
this way, you will be a prepared, defensive driver
who will improve your own safety as well as the
safety of all road users.
Subsections 2.7 and 2.8
Test Your Knowledge
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.7 and 2.8
2.9 – Distracted Driving
Whenever you are driving a vehicle and your attention is not on the road, you are putting yourself,
your passengers, other vehicles, and pedestrians
in danger. Distracted driving can result when you
perform any activity that may shift your full attention from the driving task. Taking your eyes off the
road or hands off the steering wheel presents obvious driving risks. Mental activities that take your
mind away from driving are just as dangerous.
Your eyes can gaze at objects in the driving scene
but fail to see them because your attention is distracted elsewhere.
Activities that can distract your attention include:
talking to passengers; adjusting the radio, CD
player or climate controls; eating, drinking or smoking; reading maps or other literature; picking up
something that fell; reading billboards and other
road advertisements; watching other people and
vehicles including aggressive drivers; talking on a
cell phone or CB radio; using telemetric devices
(such as navigation systems, pagers, etc.); daydreaming or being occupied with other mental distractions.
DON’T DRIVE DISTRACTED
If drivers react a half-second slower because of
distractions, crashes double. Some tips to follow so
you will not become distracted:
 Review and be totally familiar with all safety and
usage features on any in-vehicle electronics, including your wireless or cell phone, before you drive.
 Pre-program radio stations.
 Pre-load you favorite CDs or cassette tapes.
1. How do you find out how many seconds of following distance space you have?
2. If you are driving a 30-foot vehicle at 55 MPH,
how many seconds of following distance
should you allow?
3. You should decrease your following distance if
somebody is following you too closely. True or
False?
4. If you swing wide to the left before turning
right, another driver may try to pass you on the
right. True or False?
5. What is a hazard?
6. Why make emergency plans when you see a
hazard?
 Clear the vehicle of any unnecessary objects.
 Review maps and plan your route before you begin
driving.
 Adjust all mirrors for best all-a-round visibility before
you start your trip.
 Do not attempt to read or write while you drive.
 Avoid smoking, eating, and drinking while you drive.
 Do not engage in complex or emotionally intense
conversations with other occupants.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
USE IN-VEHICLE COMMUNICATION
EQUIPMENT CAUTIOUSLY
2.10 – Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage
 When possible, pull off the road in a safe, legal
place when making/receiving a call on communication equipment.
WHAT IS IT?
 If possible, turn the cell phone off until your destination is reached.
 Position the cell phone within easy reach.
 Pre-program cell phones with commonly called
numbers.
 If you have to place a call, find a safe place to pull
off the road. Do not place a call while driving.
 Some jurisdictions require that only hands-free devices can be used while driving. Even these devices are unsafe to use when you are driving down
the road.
 If you must use your cell phone, keep conversations short. Develop ways to get free of long-winded
friends and associates while on the road. Never use
the cell phone for social visiting.
 Hang up in tricky traffic situations.
 Do not use the equipment when approaching locations with heavy traffic, road construction, heavy pedestrian traffic, or severe weather conditions.
 Do not attempt to type or read messages on your
satellite system while driving.
WATCH OUT FOR OTHER DISTRACTED
DRIVERS
You need to be able to recognize other drivers who
are engaged in any form of driving distraction. Not
recognizing other distracted drivers can prevent
you from perceiving or reacting correctly in time to
prevent a crash. Watch for:
 Vehicles that may drift over the lane divider lines or
within their own lane.
Aggressive driving and road rage is not a new
problem. However, in today’s world, where heavy
and slow-moving traffic and tight schedules are the
norm, more and more drivers are taking out their
anger and frustration in their vehicles.
Crowded roads leave little room for error, leading
to suspicion and hostility among drivers and encouraging them to not take the mistakes of other
drivers personally.
Aggressive driving is the act of operating a motor
vehicle in a selfish, bold, or pushy manner, without
regard for the rights or safety of others.
Road rage is operating a motor vehicle with the
intent of doing harm to others or physically assaulting a driver or their vehicle.
DON’T BE AN AGGRESSIVE DRIVER
How you feel even before starting your vehicle has
a lot to do with how stress affects you while driving.
 Reduce your stress before and while you drive.
Listen to “easy listening” music.
 Give the drive your full attention. Do not allow yourself to become distracted by talking on your cell
phone, eating, etc.
 Be realistic about your travel time. Expect delays
because of traffic, construction, or bad weather and
make allowances.
 If you are going to be later than you expected—deal
with it. Take a deep breath and accept the delay.
 Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. Try to
imagine why he or she is driving that way. Whatever their reason, it has nothing to do with you.
 Vehicles traveling at inconsistent speeds.
 Slow down and keep your following distance reasonable.
 Drivers who are preoccupied with maps, food, cigarettes, cell phones, or other objects.
 Do not drive slow in the left lane of traffic.
 Drivers who appear to be involved in conversations
with their passengers.
Give a distracted driver plenty of room and maintain your safe following distance.
Be very careful when passing a driver who seems
to be distracted. The other driver may not be aware
of your presence, and they may drift in front of you.
 Avoid gestures. Keep you hands on the wheel.
Avoid making any gestures that might anger another driver, even seemingly harmless expressions
of irritation like shaking your head.
 Be a cautious and courteous driver. If another driver
seems eager to get in front of you, say, “Be my
guest.” This response will soon become a habit and
you will not be as offended by other drivers’ actions.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO WHEN CONFRONTED
BY AN AGGRESSIVE DRIVER
 First and foremost, make every attempt to get out of
their way.
 Put your pride in the back seat. Do not challenge
them by speeding up or attempting to hold-yourown in your travel lane.
 Avoid eye contact.
 Ignore gestures and refuse to react to them.
 Report aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities by providing a vehicle description, license
number, location and, if possible, direction of travel.
 If you have a cell phone, and can do it safely, call
the police.
 If an aggressive driver is involved in a crash farther
down the road, stop a safe distance from the crash
scene, wait for the police to arrive, and report the
driving behavior that you witnessed.
Subsections 2.9 and 2.10
Test Your Knowledge
1. What are some tips to follow so you will not
become a distracted driver?
2. How do you use in-vehicle communications
equipment cautiously?
3. How do you recognize a distracted driver?
4. What is the difference between aggressive
driving and road rage?
5. What should you do when confronted with an
aggressive driver?
6. What are some things you can do to reduce
your stress before and while you drive?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.9 and 2.10.
2.11 – Driving at Night
IT'S MORE DANGEROUS
You are at greater risk when you drive at night.
Drivers cannot see hazards as quickly as in daylight, so they have less time to respond. Drivers
caught by surprise are less able to avoid a crash.
The problems of night driving involve the driver, the
roadway, and the vehicle.
DRIVER FACTORS
Vision. People cannot see as sharply at night or in
dim light. Also, their eyes need time to adjust to
seeing in dim light. Most people have noticed this
when walking into a dark movie theater.
Glare. Drivers can be blinded for a short time by
bright light. It takes time to recover from this blindness. Older drivers are especially bothered by
glare. Most people have been temporarily blinded
by camera flash units or by the high beams of an
oncoming vehicle. It can take several seconds to
recover from glare. Even two seconds of glare
blindness can be dangerous. A vehicle going 55
MPH will travel more than half the distance of a
football field during that time. Do not look directly at
bright lights when driving. Look at the right side of
the road. Watch the sidelines when someone coming toward you has very bright lights on.
Fatigue and Lack of Alertness. Fatigue (being
tired) and lack of alertness are bigger problems at
night. The body's need for sleep is beyond a person's control. Most people are less alert at night,
especially after midnight. This is particularly true if
you have been driving for a long time. Drivers may
not see hazards as soon, or react as quickly, so
the chance of a crash is greater. If you are sleepy,
the only safe cure is to get off the road and get
some sleep. If you do not, you risk your life and the
lives of others.
ROADWAY FACTORS
Poor Lighting. In the daytime there is usually
enough light to see well. This is not true at night.
Some areas may have bright streetlights, but many
areas will have poor lighting. On most roads you
will probably have to depend entirely on your headlights.
Less light means you will not be able to see hazards as well as in daytime. Road users who do not
have lights are hard to see. There are many accidents at night involving pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, and animals.
Even when there are lights, the road scene can be
confusing. Traffic signals and hazards can be hard
to see against a background of signs, shop windows, and other lights.
Drive slower when lighting is poor or confusing.
Drive slowly enough to be sure you can stop in the
distance you can see ahead.
Drunk Drivers. Drunk drivers and drivers under the
influence of drugs are a hazard to themselves and
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
to you. Be especially alert around the closing times
for bars and taverns. Watch for drivers who have
trouble staying in their lane or maintaining speed,
who stop without reason, or show other signs of
being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
VEHICLE FACTORS
Headlights. At night your headlights will usually be
the main source of light for you to see by and for
others to see you. You cannot see nearly as much
with your headlights as you see in the daytime.
With low beams you can see ahead about 250 feet
and with high beams about 350-500 feet. You must
adjust your speed to keep your stopping distance
within your sight distance. This means going slow
enough to be able to stop within the range of your
headlights. Otherwise, by the time, you see a hazard; you will not have time to stop.
Night driving can be more dangerous if you have
problems with your headlights. Dirty headlights
may give only half the light they should. This cuts
down your ability to see, and makes it harder for
others to see you. Make sure your lights are clean
and working. Headlights can be out of adjustment.
If they do not point in the right direction, they will
not give you a good view and they can blind other
drivers. Have a qualified person make sure they
are adjusted properly.
Other Lights. In order for you to be seen easily,
the following must be clean and working properly:
 Reflectors.
 Marker lights.
 Clearance lights.
 Taillights.
 Identification lights.
Turn Signals and Brake Lights. At night your turn
signals and brake lights are even more important
for telling other drivers what you intend to do. Make
sure you have clean, working turn signals and stop
lights.
NIGHT DRIVING PROCEDURES
Pre-trip Procedures. Make sure you are rested
and alert. If you are drowsy, sleep before you
drive! Even a nap can save your life or the lives of
others. If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they are
clean and unscratched. Don't wear sunglasses at
night. Do a complete pre-trip inspection of your
vehicle. Pay attention to checking all lights, reflectors, and cleaning those you can reach.
Avoid Blinding Others. Glare from your headlights can cause problems for drivers coming toward you. They can also bother drivers going in the
same direction you are, when your lights shine in
their rearview mirrors. Dim your lights before they
cause glare for other drivers. Dim your lights within
500 feet of the oncoming vehicle and when following another vehicle within 500 feet.
Avoid Glare from Oncoming Vehicles. Do not look
directly at lights of oncoming vehicles. Look slightly to
the right of the right lane or edge marking, if available. If other drivers do not put their low beams on,
do not try to "get back at them" by putting your own
high beams on. This increases glare for oncoming
drivers and increases the chance of a crash.
Use High Beams When You Can. Some drivers
make the mistake of always using low beams. This
seriously cuts down on their ability to see ahead.
Use high beams when it is safe and legal to do so.
Use them when you are not within 500 feet of an
approaching vehicle. Also, do not let the inside of
your cab get too bright. This makes it harder to see
outside. Keep the interior light off, and adjust your
instrument lights as low as you can to still be able
to read the gauges.
If You Get Sleepy, Stop Driving at the Nearest
Safe Place. People often do not realize how close
they are to falling asleep even when their eyelids
are falling shut. If you can safely do so, look at
yourself in a mirror. If you look sleepy, or you just
feel sleepy, stop driving! You are in a very dangerous condition. The only safe cure is to sleep.
2.12 – Driving in Fog
Windshield and Mirrors. It is more important at
night than in the daytime to have a clean windshield and clean mirrors. Bright lights at night can
cause dirt on your windshield or mirrors to create a
glare of its own, blocking your view. Most people
have experienced driving toward the sun just as it
has risen or is about to set, and found that they
can barely see through a windshield that seemed
to look okay in the middle of the day. Clean your
windshield on the inside and outside for safe driving at night.
Fog can occur at any time. Fog on highways can
be extremely dangerous. Fog is often unexpected,
and visibility can deteriorate rapidly. You should
watch for foggy conditions and be ready to reduce
your speed. Do not assume that the fog will thin
out after you enter it.
The best advice for driving in fog is: do not. It is
preferable that you pull off the road into a rest area
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
or truck stop until visibility is better. If you must
drive, be sure to consider the following:
 Obey all fog-related warning signs.
 Slow down before you enter fog.
 Use low-beam headlights and fog lights for best
visibility even in daytime, and be alert for other drivers who may have forgotten to turn on their lights.
 Watch for vehicles on the side of the roadway. Seeing taillights or headlights in front of you may not be
a true indication of where the road is ahead of you.
The vehicle may not be on the road at all.
 Use roadside highway reflectors as guides to determine how the road may curve ahead of you.
 Listen for traffic you cannot see.
 Avoid passing other vehicles.
 Do not stop along the side of the road, unless absolutely necessary.
2.13 – Driving in Winter
VEHICLE CHECKS
Make sure your vehicle is ready before driving in
winter weather. You should make a regular pre-trip
inspection, paying extra attention to the following
items.
Coolant Level and Antifreeze Amount. Make
sure the cooling system is full and there is enough
antifreeze in the system to protect against freezing.
This can be checked with a special coolant tester.
Defrosting and Heating Equipment. Make sure
the defrosters work. They are needed for safe driving. Make sure the heater is working, and that you
know how to operate it. If you use other heaters
and expect to need them (e.g., mirror heaters, battery box heaters, fuel tank heaters), check their
operation.
Wipers and Washers. Make sure the windshield
wiper blades are in good condition. Make sure the
wiper blades press against the window hard
enough to wipe the windshield clean, otherwise
they may not sweep off snow properly. Make sure
the windshield washer works and there is washing
fluid in the washer reservoir.
Use windshield washer antifreeze to prevent freezing of the washer liquid. If you cannot see well
enough while driving (for example, if your wipers
fail), stop safely and fix the problem.
Tires. Make sure you have enough tread on your
tires. The drive tires must provide traction to push
the rig over wet pavement and through snow. The
steering tires must have traction to steer the vehicle. Enough tread is especially important in winter
conditions. You must have at least 4/32-inch tread
depth in every major groove on front tires and at
least 2/32-inch on other tires. More would be better. Use a gauge to determine if you have enough
tread for safe driving.
Tire Chains. You may find yourself in conditions
where you can't drive without chains, even to get to
a place of safety. Carry the right number of chains
and extra cross-links. Make sure they will fit your
drive tires. Check the chains for broken hooks,
worn or broken cross-links, and bent or broken
side chains. Learn how to put the chains on before
you need to do it in snow and ice.
Lights and Reflectors. Make sure the lights and
reflectors are clean. Lights and reflectors are especially important during bad weather. Check from
time to time during bad weather to make sure they
are clean and working properly.
Windows and Mirrors. Remove any ice, snow,
etc., from the windshield, windows, and mirrors
before starting. Use a windshield scraper, snow
brush, and windshield defroster as necessary.
Hand Holds, Steps, and Deck Plates. Remove all
ice and snow from hand holds, steps, and deck
plates. This will reduce the danger of slipping.
Radiator Shutters and Winter-front. Remove ice
from the radiator shutters. Make sure the winter
front is not closed too tightly. If the shutters freeze
shut or the winter-front is closed too much, the engine may overheat and stop.
Exhaust System. Exhaust system leaks are especially dangerous when cab ventilation may be poor
(windows rolled up, etc.). Loose connections could
permit poisonous carbon monoxide to leak into
your vehicle. Carbon monoxide gas will cause you
to be sleepy. In large enough amounts it can kill
you. Check the exhaust system for loose parts and
for sounds and signs of leaks.
DRIVING
Slippery Surfaces. Drive slowly and smoothly on
slippery roads. If it is very slippery, you should not
drive at all. Stop at the first safe place.
Start Gently and Slowly. When first starting, get
the feel of the road. Do not hurry.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
Check for Ice. Check for ice on the road, especially bridges and overpasses. A lack of spray from
other vehicles indicates ice has formed on the
road. Also, check your mirrors and wiper blades for
ice. If they have ice, the road most likely will be icy
as well.
2.14 – Driving in Very Hot Weather
Adjust Turning and Braking to Conditions.
Make turns as gently as possible. Do not brake any
harder than necessary, and do not use the engine
brake or speed retarder. (They can cause the driving wheels to skid on slippery surfaces.)
Tires. Check the tire mounting and air pressure.
Inspect the tires every two hours or every 100
miles when driving in very hot weather. Air pressure increases with temperature. Do not let air out
or the pressure will be too low when the tires cool
off. If a tire is too hot to touch, remain stopped until
the tire cools off. Otherwise the tire may blow out
or catch fire.
Adjust Speed to Conditions. Do not pass slower
vehicles unless necessary. Go slowly and watch
far enough ahead to keep a steady speed. Avoid
having to slow down and speed up. Take curves at
slower speeds and do not brake while in curves.
Be aware that as the temperature rises to the point
where ice begins to melt, the road becomes even
more slippery. Slow down more.
Adjust Space to Conditions. Do not drive alongside other vehicles. Keep a longer following distance. When you see a traffic jam ahead, slow
down or stop to wait for it to clear. Try hard to anticipate stops early and slow down gradually.
Watch for snowplows, as well as salt and sand
trucks, and give them plenty of room.
Wet Brakes. When driving in heavy rain or deep
standing water, your brakes will get wet. Water in
the brakes can cause the brakes to be weak, to
apply unevenly, or to grab. This can cause lack of
braking power, wheel lockups, pulling to one side
or the other, and jackknife if you pull a trailer.
Avoid driving through deep puddles or flowing water if possible. If not, you should:
 Slow down and place transmission in a low gear.
 Gently put on the brakes. This presses linings
against brake drums or discs and keeps mud, silt,
sand, and water from getting in.
 Increase engine RPM and cross the water while
keeping light pressure on the brakes.
 When out of the water, maintain light pressure on
the brakes for a short distance to heat them up and
dry them out.
 Make a test stop when safe to do so. Check behind
the vehicle to make sure no one is following, and
then apply the brakes to be sure they work well. If
not, dry them out further as described above.
(CAUTION: Do not apply too much brake pressure
and accelerator at the same time, or you can overheat brake drums and linings.)
VEHICLE CHECKS
Do a normal pre-trip inspection, but pay special
attention to the following items.
Engine Oil. The engine oil helps keep the engine
cool, as well as lubricating it. Make sure there is
enough engine oil. If you have an oil temperature
gauge, make sure the temperature is within the
proper range while you are driving.
Engine Coolant. Before starting out, make sure
the engine cooling system has enough water and
antifreeze according to the engine manufacturer's
directions. (Antifreeze helps the engine under hot
conditions as well as cold conditions.) When driving, check the water temperature or coolant temperature gauge from time to time. Make sure that it
remains in the normal range. If the gauge goes
above the highest safe temperature, there may be
something wrong that could lead to engine failure
and possibly fire. Stop driving as soon as safely
possible and try to find out what is wrong.
Some vehicles have sight glasses, see-through
coolant overflow containers, or coolant recovery
containers. These permit you to check the coolant
level while the engine is hot. If the container is not
part of the pressurized system, the cap can be
safely removed and coolant added even when the
engine is at operating temperature.
Never remove the radiator cap or any part of the
pressurized system until the system has cooled.
Steam and boiling water can spray under pressure
and cause severe burns. If you can touch the radiator cap with your bare hand, it is probably cool
enough to open.
If coolant has to be added to a system without a
recovery tank or overflow tank, follow these steps:
 Shut engine off.
 Wait until engine has cooled.
 Protect hands (use gloves or a thick cloth).
 Turn radiator cap slowly to the first stop, which re-
Section 2 – Driving Safely
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
leases the pressure seal.
2.15 – Railroad-highway Crossings
 Step back while pressure is released from cooling
system.
 When all pressure has been released, press down
on the cap and turn it further to remove it.
 Visually check level of coolant and add more coolant if necessary.
 Visually check level of coolant and add more coolant if necessary.
 Replace cap; turn all the way to the closed position.
Engine Belts. Learn how to check v-belt tightness
on your vehicle by pressing on the belts. Loose
belts will not turn the water pump and/or fan properly. This will result in overheating. Also, check
belts for cracking or other signs of wear.
Railroad-highway grade crossings are a special
kind of intersection where the roadway crosses
train tracks. These crossings are always dangerous. Every such crossing must be approached with
the expectation that a train is coming.
TYPES OF CROSSINGS
Passive Crossings. This type of crossing does
not have any type of traffic control device. The decision to stop or proceed rests entirely in your
hands. Passive crossings require you to recognize
the crossing, search for any train using the tracks
and decide if there is sufficient clear space to cross
safely. Passive crossings have yellow circular ad-
Hoses. Make sure coolant hoses are in good condition. A broken hose while driving can lead to engine failure and even fire.
DRIVING
Watch for Bleeding Tar. Tar in the road pavement
frequently rises to the surface in very hot weather.
Spots where tar "bleeds" to the surface are very
slippery.
Go Slowly Enough to Prevent Overheating.
High speeds create more heat for tires and the
engine. In desert conditions the heat may build up
to the point where it is dangerous. The heat will
increase chances of tire failure or even fire, and
engine failure.
Subsections 2.11, 2.12, 2.13, and 2.14
Test Your Knowledge
1. You should use low beams whenever you can.
True or False?
2. What should you do before you drive if you are
drowsy?
3. What effects can wet brakes cause? How can
you avoid these problems?
4. You should let air out of hot tires so the pressure goes back to normal. True or False?
5. You can safely remove the radiator cap as
long as the engine is not overheated. True or
False?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer all of them, re-read subsections 2.11, 2.12,
2.13, and 2.14.
Figure 2.16
vance warning signs, pavement markings and
cross bucks to assist you in recognizing a crossing.
Active Crossings. This type of crossing has a
traffic control device installed at the crossing to
regulate traffic at the crossing. These active devices include flashing red lights, with or without
Figure 2.15
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-26
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Figure 2.18
Figure 2.17
bells and flashing red lights with bells and gates.
WARNING SIGNS AND DEVICES
Advance Warning Signs. The round, black-onyellow warning sign is placed ahead of a public
railroad-highway crossing. The advance warning
sign tells you to slow down, look and listen for the
train, and be prepared to stop at the tracks if a train
is coming. See Figure 2.15.
Pavement Markings. Pavement markings mean
the same as the advance warning sign. They consist of an “X” with the letters “”RR” and a no-passing
marking on two-lane roads. See Figure 2.16.
There is also a no passing zone sign on two-lane
roads. There may be a white stop line painted on
the pavement before the railroad tracks. The front
of the school bus must remain behind this line
while stopped at the crossing.
Cross-buck Signs. This sign marks the grade
crossing. It requires you to yield the right-of-way to
the train. If there is no white line painted on the
pavement, you must stop the bus before the crossbuck sign. When the road crosses over more than
one set of tracks, a sign below the cross buck indicates the number of tracks. See Figure 2.17.
Flashing Red Light Signals. At many highway-rail
grade crossings, the cross buck sign has flashing
red lights and bells. When the lights begin to flash,
stop! A train is approaching. You are required to
yield the right-of-way to the train. If there is more
than one track, make sure all tracks are clear before crossing. See Figure 2.18.
Gates. Many railroad-highway crossings have
gates with flashing red lights and bells. Stop when
the lights begin to flash and before the gate lowers
across the road lane. Remain stopped until the
gates go up and the lights have stopped flashing.
Proceed when it is safe. See Figure 2.18.
DRIVING PROCEDURES
Never Race a Train to a Crossing. Never attempt
to race a train to a crossing. It is extremely difficult
to judge the speed of an approaching train.
Reduce Speed. Speed must be reduced in accordance with your ability to see approaching trains in
any direction, and speed must be held to a point
which will permit you to stop short of the tracks in
case a stop is necessary.
Do not Expect to Hear a Train. Because of noise
inside your vehicle, you cannot expect to hear the
train horn until the train is dangerously close to the
crossing.
Do not Rely on Signals. You should not rely
solely upon the presence of warning signals,
gates, or flagmen to warn of the approach of trains.
Be especially alert at crossings that do not have
gates or flashing red light signals.
Double Tracks Require a Double Check. Remember that a train on one track may hide a train on the
other track. Look both ways before crossing. After
one train has cleared a crossing, be sure no other
trains are near before starting across the tracks.
Yard Areas and Grade Crossings in Cities and
Towns. Yard areas and grade crossings in cities
and towns are just as dangerous as rural grade
crossings. Approach them with caution.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
STOPPING SAFELY AT RAILROAD-HIGHWAY
CROSSINGS
A full stop is required at grade crossings whenever:
 The nature of the cargo makes a stop mandatory
under state or federal regulations.
 Such a stop is otherwise required by law.
 When stopping be sure to:
 Check for traffic behind you while stopping gradually. Use a pullout lane, if available.
the grade, the longer the grade, and/or the heavier
the load—the more you will have to use lower
gears to climb hills or mountains. In coming down
long, steep downgrades, gravity causes the speed
of your vehicle to increase. You must select an
appropriate safe speed, and then use a low gear,
and proper braking techniques. You should plan
ahead and obtain information about any long,
steep grades along your planned route of travel. If
possible, talks to other drivers who are familiar with
the grades to find out what speeds are safe.
CROSSING THE TRACKS
You must go slowly enough so your brakes can
hold you back without getting too hot. If the brakes
become too hot, they may start to "fade." This
means you have to apply them harder and harder
to get the same stopping power. If you continue to
use the brakes hard, they can keep fading until you
cannot slow down or stop at all.
Railroad crossings with steep approaches can
cause your vehicle to hang up on the tracks.
SELECT A "SAFE" SPEED
 Turn on your four-way emergency flashers.
 Do not move the vehicle with the door open.
Never permit traffic conditions to trap you in a position where you have to stop on the tracks. Be sure
you can get all the way across the tracks before
you start across. It takes a typical tractor-trailer unit
at least 14 seconds to clear a single track and
more than 15 seconds to clear a double track.
Your most important consideration is to select a
speed that is not too fast for the:
Do not shift gears while crossing railroad tracks.
 Road conditions.
If the CMV is required to stop and open the door at
a railroad crossing, the door must be closed prior
to moving the vehicle.
 Weather.
SPECIAL SITUATIONS
Be Aware! These trailers can get stuck on raised
crossings:
 Low slung units (lowboy, car carrier, moving van,
possum-belly livestock trailer).
 Single-axle tractor pulling a long trailer with its landing gear set to accommodate a tandem-axle tractor.
If for any reason you get stuck on the tracks, get
out of the vehicle and away from the tracks. Check
signposts or signal housing at the crossing for
emergency notification information. Call 911 or
other emergency number. Give the location of the
crossing using all identifiable landmarks, especially
the DOT number, if posted.
2.16 – Mountain Driving
In mountain driving, gravity plays a major role. On
any upgrade, gravity slows you down. The steeper
 Total weight of the vehicle and cargo.
 Length of the grade.
 Steepness of the grade.
If a speed limit is posted, or there is a sign indicating
"Maximum Safe Speed," never exceed the speed
posted. Also, look for and heed warning signs indicating the length and steepness of the grade.
You must use the braking effect of the engine as
the principal way of controlling your speed. The
braking effect of the engine is greatest when it is
near the governed RPMS and the transmission is in
the lower gears. Save your brakes so you will be
able to slow or stop as required by road and traffic
conditions.
SELECT THE RIGHT GEAR BEFORE STARTING
DOWN THE GRADE
Shift the transmission to a low gear before starting
down the grade. Do not try to downshift after your
speed has already built up. You will not be able to
shift into a lower gear. You may not even be able
to get back into any gear and all engines braking
effect will be lost. Forcing an automatic transmission into a lower gear at high speed could damage
the transmission and also lead to loss of all engines braking effect.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
With older trucks, a rule for choosing gears is to use
the same gear going down a hill that you would
need to climb the hill. However, new trucks have low
friction parts and streamlined shapes for fuel economy. They may also have more powerful engines.
This means they can go up hills in higher gears and
have less friction and air drag to hold them back
going down hills. For that reason, drivers of modern
trucks may have to use lower gears going down a
hill than would be required to go up the hill. You
should know what is right for your vehicle.
BRAKE FADING OR FAILURE
Brakes are designed so brake shoes or pads rub
against the brake drum or disks to slow the vehicle.
Braking creates heat, but brakes are designed to
take a lot of heat. However, brakes can fade or fail
from excessive heat caused by using them too
much and not relying on the engine braking effect.
Brake fade is also affected by adjustment. To
safely control a vehicle, every brake must do its
share of the work. Brakes out of adjustment will
stop doing their share before those that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat and
fade, and there will not be enough braking available to control the vehicle. Brakes can get out of
adjustment quickly, especially when they are used
a lot; also, brake linings wear faster when they are
hot. Therefore, brake adjustment must be checked
frequently.
Escape ramps have been built on many steep
mountain downgrades. Escape ramps are made to
stop runaway vehicles safely without injuring drivers and passengers. Escape ramps use a long bed
of loose, soft material to slow a runaway vehicle,
sometimes in combination with an upgrade.
Know escape ramp locations on your route. Signs
show drivers where ramp are located. Escape
ramps save lives, equipment, and cargo.
Subsections 2.15 and 2.16
Test Your Knowledge
1. What factors determine your selection of a
"safe" speed when going down a long, steep
downgrade?
2. Why should you be in the proper gear before
starting down a hill?
3. Describe the proper braking technique when
going down a long, steep downgrade.
4. What type of vehicles can get stuck on a railroad-highway crossing?
5. How long does it take for a typical tractortrailer unit to clear a double track?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.15 and
2.16.
PROPER BRAKING TECHNIQUE
Remember. The use of brakes on a long and/or
steep downgrade is only a supplement to the braking effect of the engine. Once the vehicle is in the
proper low gear, the following is the proper braking
technique:
 Apply the brakes just hard enough to feel a definite
slowdown.
 When your speed has been reduced to approximately five MPH below your "safe" speed, release
the brakes. (This brake application should last for
about three seconds.)
 When your speed has increased to your "safe"
speed, repeat the steps above.
For example, if your "safe" speed is 40 MPH, you
would not apply the brakes until your speed
reaches 40 MPH. You now apply the brakes hard
enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 MPH
and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often
as necessary until you have reached the end of the
downgrade.
2.17 – Driving Emergencies
Traffic emergencies occur when two vehicles are
about to collide. Vehicle emergencies occur when
tires, brakes, or other critical parts fail. Following
the safety practices in this handbook can help prevent emergencies. But if an emergency does happen, your chances of avoiding a crash depend
upon how well you take action. Actions you can
take are discussed below.
STEERING TO AVOID A CRASH
Stopping is not always the safest thing to do in an
emergency. When you do not have enough room
to stop, you may have to steer away from what is
ahead. Remember, you can almost always turn to
miss an obstacle more quickly than you can stop.
(However, top-heavy vehicles and tractors with
multiple trailers may flip over.)
Keep Both Hands on the Steering Wheel. In order to turn quickly, you must have a firm grip on
the steering wheel with both hands. The best way
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-29
CDL Driver’s Handbook
to have both hands on the wheel, if there is an
emergency, is to keep them there all the time.
How to Turn Quickly and Safely. A quick turn
can be made safely, if it has done the right way.
Here are some points that safe drivers use:
 Do not apply the brake while you are turning. It is
very easy to lock your wheels while turning. If that
happens, you may skid out of control.
 Do not turn any more than needed to clear whatever is in your way. The sharper you turn, the
greater the chances of a skid or rollover.
 Be prepared to "counter steer", that is, to turn the
wheel back in the other direction, once you have
passed whatever was in your path. Unless you are
prepared to counter steer, you will not be able to do
it quickly enough. You should think of emergency
steering and counter steering as two parts of one
driving action.
Where to Steer. If an oncoming driver has drifted
into your lane, a move to your right is best. If that
driver realizes what has happened, the natural response will be to return to his or her own lane.
If something is blocking your path, the best direction to steer will depend on the situation.
 If you have been using your mirrors, you will know
which lane is empty and can be safely used.
 If the shoulder is clear, going right may be best. No
one is likely to be driving on the shoulder but someone may be passing you on the left. You will know if
you have been using your mirrors.
 If you are blocked on both sides, a move to the right
may be best. At least you will not force anyone into
an opposing traffic lane and a possible head-on collision.
Leaving the Road. In some emergencies, you
may have to drive off the road. It may be less risky
than facing a collision with another vehicle.
Most shoulders are strong enough to support the
weight of a large vehicle and, therefore, offer an
available escape route. Here are some guidelines,
if you do leave the road.
Avoid Braking. If possible, avoid using the brakes
until your speed has dropped to about 20 MPH.
Then brake very gently to avoid skidding on a
loose surface.
Stay on the Shoulder. If the shoulder is clear,
stay on it until your vehicle has come to a stop.
Signal and check your mirrors before pulling back
onto the road.
Returning to the Road. If you are forced to return
to the road before you can stop, use the following
procedure:
 Hold the wheel tightly and turn sharply enough to
get right back on the road safely. Do not try to
edge gradually back on the road. If you do, your
tires might grab unexpectedly and you could lose
control.
 When both front tires are on the paved surface,
counter steer immediately. The two turns should be
made as a single "steer-counter steer" move.
HOW TO STOP QUICKLY AND SAFELY
If somebody suddenly pulls out in front of you, your
natural response is to hit the brakes. This is a good
response if there's enough distance to stop, and
you use the brakes correctly.
You should brake in a way that will keep your vehicle in a straight line and allow you to turn if it becomes necessary. You can use the "controlled
braking" method or the "stab braking" method.
Controlled Braking. With this method, you apply the
brakes as hard as you can without locking the
wheels. Keep steering wheel movements very small
while doing this. If you need to make a larger steering
adjustment or if the wheels lock, release the brakes.
Re-apply the brakes as soon as you can.
Stab Braking
 Apply your brakes all the way.
 Release brakes when wheels lock up.
 As soon as the wheels start rolling, apply the brakes
fully again. (It can take up to one second for the
wheels to start rolling after you release the brakes. If
you re-apply the brakes before the wheels start rolling, the vehicle will not straighten out.)
Do not Jam on the Brakes. Emergency braking
does not mean pushing down on the brake pedal
as hard as you can. That will only keep the wheels
locked up and cause a skid. If the wheels are skidding, you cannot control the vehicle.
Keep One Set of Wheels on the Pavement, if
Possible. This helps to maintain control.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-30
CDL Driver’s Handbook
BRAKE FAILURE
use it, your chances of having a serious crash may
be much greater.
Brakes kept in good condition rarely fail. Most hydraulic brake failures occur for one of two reasons:
(Air brakes are discussed in Section 6.)
 Loss of hydraulic pressure.
 Brake fade on long hills.
Loss of Hydraulic Pressure. When the system
will not build up pressure, the brake pedal will feel
spongy or go to the floor. Here are some things
you can do.
Downshift. Putting the vehicle into a lower gear
will help to slow the vehicle.
Pump the Brakes. Sometimes pumping the brake
pedal will generate enough hydraulic pressure to
stop the vehicle.
Use the Parking Brake. The parking or emergency brake is separate from the hydraulic brake
system. Therefore, it can be used to slow the vehicle. However, be sure to press the release button
or pull the release lever at the same time you use
the emergency brake so you can adjust the brake
pressure and keep the wheels from locking up.
Find an Escape Route. While slowing the vehicle,
look for an escape route—an open field, side
street, or escape ramp. Turning uphill is a good
way to slow and stop the vehicle. Make sure the
vehicle does not start rolling backward after you
stop. Put it in low gear, apply the parking brake,
and, if necessary, roll back into some obstacle that
will stop the vehicle.
Brake Failure on Downgrades. Going slow
enough and braking properly will almost always
prevent brake failure on long downgrades. Once
the brakes have failed, however, you are going to
have to look outside your vehicle for something to
stop it.
Your best hope is an escape ramp. If there is one,
there will be signs telling you about it. Use it.
Ramps are usually located a few miles from the top
of the downgrade. Every year, hundreds of drivers
avoid injury to themselves or damage to their vehicles by using escape ramps. Some escape ramps
use soft gravel that resists the motion of the vehicle and brings it to a stop. Others turn uphill, using
the hill to stop the vehicle and soft gravel to hold it
in place.
If no escape ramp is available, take the least hazardous escape route you can—such as an open
field or a side road that flattens out or turns uphill.
Make the move as soon as you know your brakes
do not work. The longer you wait, the faster the
vehicle will go, and the harder it will be to stop.
TIRE FAILURE
Recognize Tire Failure. Quickly knowing you
have a tire failure will let you have more time to
react. Having just a few extra seconds to remember what it is you are supposed to do can help you.
The major signs of tire failure are:
 Sound. The loud "bang" of a blowout is an easily
recognized sign. Because it can take a few seconds
for your vehicle to react, you might think it was
some other vehicle. But any time you hear a tire
blow, you would be safest to assume it is yours.
 Vibration. If the vehicle thumps or vibrates heavily,
it may be a sign that one of the tires has gone flat.
With a rear tire, that may be the only sign you get.
 Feel. If the steering feels "heavy," it is probably a
sign that one of the front tires has failed. Sometimes, failure of a rear tire will cause the vehicle to
slide back and forth or "fishtail." However, dual rear
tires usually prevent this.
Respond to Tire Failure. When a tire fails, your
vehicle is in danger. You must immediately:
 Hold the Steering Wheel Firmly. If a front tire fails,
it can twist the steering wheel out of your hand. The
only way to prevent this is to keep a firm grip on the
steering wheel with both hands at all times.
 Stay Off the Brake. It is natural to want to brake in
an emergency. However, braking when a tire has
failed could cause loss of control. Unless you are
about to run into something, stay off the brake until
the vehicle has slowed down. Then brake very gently, pull off the road, and stop.
 Check the Tires. After you have come to a stop,
get out and check all the tires. Do this even if the
vehicle seems to be handling all right. If one of your
dual tires goes, the only way you may know it is by
getting out and looking at it.
Any driver who loses brakes going downhill should
use an escape ramp if it is available. If you do not
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-31
CDL Driver’s Handbook
2.18 – Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
ABS is a computerized system that keeps your
wheels from locking up during hard brake applications.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does
not decrease or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when wheels are about
to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping
distance, but it does help you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up for a bulb check, and
then goes out quickly. On older systems, the lamp
could stay on until you are driving over five MPH.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check, or goes
on once you are under way, you may have lost
ABS control.
In the case of towed units manufactured before it
was required by the Department of Transportation,
it may be difficult to tell if the unit is equipped with
ABS. Look under the vehicle for the ECU and
wheel speed sensor wires coming from the back of
the brakes.
HOW ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS WORK
HOW ABS HELPS YOU
Sensors detect potential wheel lock up. An electronic control unit (ECU) will then decrease brake
pressure to avoid wheel lockup.
Brake pressure is adjusted to provide the maximum braking without danger of lockup.
ABS works far faster than the driver can respond to
potential wheel lockup. At all other times the brake
system will operate normally.
VEHICLES REQUIRED TO HAVE ANTILOCK
BRAKING SYSTEMS
The Department of Transportation requires that
ABS be on:
 Truck tractors with air brakes built on or after March
1, 1997.
 Other air brake vehicles, (trucks, buses, trailers,
and converter dollies) built on or after March 1,
1998.
 Hydraulically braked trucks and buses with a gross
vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lbs or more built on
or after March 1, 1999.
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a
vehicle without ABS, your wheels may lock up.
When your steering wheels lock up, you lose steering control. When your other wheels lock up, you
may skid, jackknife, or even spin the vehicle.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up and maintain
control. You may or may not be able to stop faster
with ABS, but you should be able to steer around
an obstacle while braking, and avoid skids caused
by over braking.
ABS ON THE TRACTOR ONLY OR ONLY ON
THE TRAILER
Having ABS on only the tractor, only the trailer, or
even on only one axle, still gives you more control
over the vehicle during braking. Brake normally.
When only the tractor has ABS, you should be able
to maintain steering control, and there is less
chance of jackknifing. But keep your eye on the
trailer and let up on the brakes (if you can safely do
so) if it begins to swing out.
Many commercial vehicles built before these dates
have been voluntarily equipped with ABS.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less
likely to swing out, but if you lose steering control
or start a tractor jackknife, let up on the brakes (if
you can safely do so) until you regain control.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR VEHICLE IS
EQUIPPED WITH ABS
BRAKING WITH ABS
Tractors, trucks, and buses will have yellow ABS
malfunction lamps on the instrument panel.
When you drive a vehicle with ABS, you should
brake as you always have. In other words:
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on
the left side, either on the front or rear corner.
 Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely
and stay in control.
Dollies manufactured on or after March 1, 1998,
are required to have a lamp on the left side.
 Brake the same way, regardless of whether you
have ABS on the bus, tractor, the trailer, or both.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-32
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer
and back off the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay
in control.
There is only one exception to this procedure. If
you drive a straight truck or combination with working ABS on all axles, in an emergency stop, you
can fully apply the brakes.
BRAKING IF ABS IS NOT WORKING
ABS.
 Remember: If you need it, ABS could help to prevent a serious crash.
2.19 – Skid Control and Recovery
A skid happens whenever the tires lose their grip
on the road. This is caused in one of four ways:
Without ABS you still have normal brake functions.
Drive and brake as you always have.
Over-braking: braking too hard and locking up the
wheels. Skids also can occur when using the
speed retarder when the road is slippery.
Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps
to tell you if something is not working.
Over-steering: turning the wheels more sharply
than the vehicle can turn.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up for a bulb check
and then goes out quickly. On older systems, the
lamp could stay on until you are driving over five
MPH.
Over-acceleration: supplying too much power to
the drive wheels, causing them to spin.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check, or goes
on once you are under way, you may have lost
ABS control on one or more wheels.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still
have regular brakes. Drive normally, but get the
system serviced soon.
SAFETY REMINDERS
 ABS will not allow you to drive faster, follow more
closely, or drive less carefully.
 ABS will not prevent power or turning skids—ABS
should prevent brake-induced skids or jackknifes,
but not those caused by spinning the drive wheels
or going too fast in a turn.
 ABS will not necessarily shorten stopping distance.
ABS will help maintain vehicle control, but not always shorten stopping distance.
 ABS will not increase or decrease ultimate stopping
power—ABS is an “add-on” to your normal brakes,
not a replacement for them. ABS will not change
the way you normally brake. Under normal brake
conditions, your vehicle will stop as it always
stopped. ABS only comes into play when a wheel
would normally have locked up because of over
braking.
Driving Too Fast: most serious skids result from
driving too fast for road conditions. Drivers who
adjust their driving to conditions do not overaccelerate and do not have to over-brake or oversteer from too much speed.
DRIVE-WHEEL SKIDS
By far the most common skid is one in which the
rear wheels lose traction through excessive braking or acceleration. Skids caused by acceleration
usually happen on ice or snow. Taking your foot off
the accelerator can easily stop them. (If it is very
slippery, push the clutch in. Otherwise, the engine
can keep the wheels from rolling freely and regaining traction.)
Rear wheel braking skids occur when the rear
drive wheels lock. Because locked wheels have
less traction than rolling wheels, the rear wheels
usually slide sideways in an attempt to "catch up"
with the front wheels. In a bus or straight truck, the
vehicle will slide sideways in a "spin out." With vehicles towing trailers, a drive-wheel skid can let the
trailer push the towing vehicle sideways, causing a
sudden jackknife. See Figure 2.19.
CORRECTING A DRIVE-WHEEL BRAKING SKID
Do the following to correct a drive-wheel braking
skid.
 ABS will not compensate for bad brakes or poor
brake maintenance.
Stop Braking. This will let the rear wheels roll
again, and keep the rear wheels from sliding any
 Remember: the best vehicle safety feature is still a
safe driver.
Counter steer. As a vehicle turns back on course,
it has a tendency to keep on turning. Unless you
turn the steering wheel quickly the other way, you
may find yourself skidding in the opposite direction.
 Remember: Drive so you never need to use your
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-33
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Learning to stay off the brake, turn the steering wheel
quickly, push in the clutch, and counter steer in a skid
takes a lot of practice. The best place to get this practice is on a large driving range or "skid pad."
Subsections 2.17, 2.18, and 2.19
Test Your Knowledge
1. What are some advantages of going right instead of left around an obstacle?
2. What is an "escape ramp?"
3. If a tire blows out, you should put the brakes
on hard to stop quickly. True or False?
4. How do you know if your vehicle has antilock
brakes?
5. What is the proper braking technique when
driving a vehicle with antilock brakes?
6. How do antilock brakes help you?
7. Stopping is not always the safest thing to do in
an emergency. True or False?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.17, 2.18,
and 2.19.
2.20 – Accident Procedures
When you are in an accident and not seriously
hurt, you need to act to prevent further damage or
injury. The basic steps to be taken at any accident
are to:
Figure 2.19
 Protect the area.
 Notify authorities.
 Care for the injured.
FRONT-WHEEL SKIDS
Driving too fast for conditions causes most frontwheel skids. Other causes include lack of tread on
the front tires and cargo loaded so not enough
weight is on the front axle. In a front-wheel skid,
the front end tends to go in a straight line regardless of how much you turn the steering wheel. On
a very slippery surface, you may not be able to
steer around a curve or turn.
When a front-wheel skid occurs, the only way to
stop the skid is to let the vehicle slow down. Stop
turning and/or braking so hard. Slow down as
quickly as possible without skidding.
PROTECT THE AREA
The first thing to do at an accident scene is to keep
another accident from happening in the same spot.
To protect the accident area:
 If your vehicle is involved in the accident, try to get it
to the side of the road. This will help prevent another accident and allow traffic to move.
 If you are stopping to help, park away from the accident. The area immediately around the accident
will be needed for emergency vehicles.
 Put on your flashers.
 Set out reflective triangles to warn other traffic.
Make sure other drivers can see them in time to
avoid the accident.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-34
CDL Driver’s Handbook
NOTIFY AUTHORITIES
 Follow Safe Procedures. Follow correct safety procedures for fueling the vehicle, using brakes, handling flares, and other activities that can cause a
fire.
If you have a cell phone or CB, call for assistance
before you get out of your vehicle. If not, wait until
after the accident scene has been properly protected, then phone or send someone to phone the
police. Try to determine where you are so you can
give the exact location.
 Monitoring. Check the instruments and gauges often for signs of overheating and use the mirrors to
look for signs of smoke from tires or the vehicle.
CARE FOR THE INJURED
 Caution. Use normal caution in handling anything
flammable.
If a qualified person is at the accident and helping
the injured, stay out of the way unless asked to
assist. Otherwise, do the best you can to help any
injured parties. Here are some simple steps to follow in giving assistance:
 Do not move a severely injured person unless the
danger of fire or passing traffic makes it necessary.
 Stop heavy bleeding by applying direct pressure to
the wound.
 Keep the injured person warm.
FIRE FIGHTING
Knowing how to fight fires is important. Drivers who
did not know what to do have made fires worse.
Know how the fire extinguisher works. Study the
instructions printed on the extinguisher before you
need it. Here are some procedures to follow in
case of fire.
Pull Off the Road. The first step is to get the vehicle off the road and stop. In doing so:
 Park in an open area, away from buildings, trees,
brush, other vehicles, or anything that might catch
fire.
2.21 – 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.
 Do not pull into a service station!
CAUSES OF FIRE
Keep the Fire from Spreading. Before trying to
put out the fire, make sure that it does not spread
any further.
The following are some causes of vehicle fires:
 After Accidents. Spilled fuel, improper use of flares.
 Tires. Under-inflated tires and duals that touch.
 Electrical System. Short circuits due to damaged
insulation, loose connections.
 Notify emergency services of your problem and
your location.
 With an engine fire, turn off the engine as soon as
you can. Do not open the hood if you can avoid it.
Shoot foam through louvers, radiator, or from the
vehicle’s underside.
 Cargo. Flammable cargo, improperly sealed or
loaded cargo, poor ventilation.
 For a cargo fire in a van or box trailer, keep the
doors shut, especially if your cargo contains hazardous materials. Opening the van doors will supply
the fire with oxygen and can cause it to burn very
fast.
FIRE PREVENTION
Extinguish the Fire. Here are some rules to follow
in putting out a fire:
 Fuel. Driver smoking, improper fueling, loose fuel
connections.
Pay attention to the following:
 When using the extinguisher, stay as far away from
the fire as possible.
 Pre-trip Inspection. Perform a complete inspection
of the electrical, fuel, and exhaust systems, tires,
and cargo. Be sure to check that the fire extinguisher is charged.
 Aim at the source or base of the fire, not up in the
flames.
 En Route Inspection. Check the tires, wheels, and
truck body for signs of heat whenever you stop during a trip.
Use the Right Fire Extinguisher
 Figures 2.20 and 2.21 detail the type of fire extin-
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-35
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Class/Type of Fires
Class
A
B
C
D
Type
Wood, Paper, Ordinary Combustibles
Extinguish by Cooling and Quenching Using
Water or Dry Chemicals
Gasoline, Oil, Grease, Other Greasy
Liquids
Extinguish by Smothering, Cooling or Heat
Shielding using carbon Dioxide or Dry
Chemicals
Electrical Equipment Fires
Extinguish with Nonconducting Agents such
as Carbon Dioxide or Dry Chemicals. DO
NOT USE WATER.
Fires in Combustible Metals
Extinguish by Using Specialized
Extinguishing Powders
Figure 2.20
Class of Fire/Type of Extinguisher
Class of Fire
B or C
A, B, C, or D
D
B or C
D
B or C
B or C
A
A
A or B
B, on Some A
Fire Extinguisher Type
Regular Dry Chemical
Multi Purpose Dry Chemical
Purple K Dry Chemical
KCL Dry Chemical
Dry Powder Special Compound
Carbon Dioxide (Dry)
Halogenated Agent (Gas)
Water
Water With Anti-Freeze
Water, Loaded Steam Style
Foam
Figure 2.21
guisher to use by class of fire.
 The B:C type fire extinguisher is designed to work
on electrical fires and burning liquids.
 The A:B:C type is designed to work on burning
wood, paper, and cloth as well.
 Water can be used on wood, paper, or cloth, but do
not use water on an electrical fire (can cause
shock) or a gasoline fire (it will spread the flames).
 A burning tire must be cooled. Lots of water may be
required.
Subsections 2.20 and 2.21
Test Your Knowledge
1. What are some things to do at an accident
scene to prevent another accident?
2. Name two causes of tire fires.
3. What kinds of fires is a B:C extinguisher not
good for?
4. When using your extinguisher, should you get
as close as possible to the fire?
5. Name some causes of vehicle fires.
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.20 and 2.21.
2.22 – Alcohol, Other Drugs, and
Driving
ALCOHOL AND DRIVING
Drinking alcohol and then driving is very dangerous
and a serious problem. People who drink alcohol
are involved in traffic accidents resulting in over
20,000 deaths every year. Alcohol impairs muscle
coordination, reaction time, depth perception, and
night vision. It also affects the parts of the brain
that control judgment and inhibition. For some
people, one drink is all it takes to show signs of
impairment.
How Alcohol Works. Alcohol goes directly into the
blood stream and is carried to the brain. After
passing through the brain, a small percentage is
removed in urine, perspiration, and by breathing,
while the rest is carried to the liver. The liver can
only process one-third an ounce of alcohol per
hour, which is considerably less than the alcohol in
a standard drink. This is a fixed rate, so only time,
not black coffee or a cold shower, will sober you
up. If you have drinks faster than your body can
get rid of them, you will have more alcohol in your
body, and your driving will be more affected. The
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) commonly
measures the amount of alcohol in your body. See
Figure 2.22.
 If you are not sure what to use, especially on a
hazardous materials fire, wait for firefighters.
 Position yourself upwind. Let the wind carry the
extinguisher to the fire.
 Continue until whatever was burning has been
cooled. Absence of smoke or flame does not mean
the fire cannot restart.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-36
CDL Driver’s Handbook
What Is a Drink? It is the alcohol in drinks that
affects human performance. It doesn't make any
difference whether that alcohol comes from "a
couple of beers,” or from two glasses of wine, or
two shots of hard liquor. Approximate Blood
Alcohol Content.
140
160
180
200
220
240
.00
.00
.00
.00
.00
.00
.00
.00
.08
.03
.06
.03
.05
.02
.05
.02
.04
.02
.04
.02
.03
.02
.03
.11
.09
.08
.07
.06
.06
.05
.05
4
.15
.12
.11
.09
.08
.08
.07
.06
5
.19
.16
.13
.12
.11
.09
.09
.08
6
.23
.19
.16
.14
.13
.11
.10
.09
7
.26
.22
.19
.16
.15
.13
.12
.11
8
.30
.25
.21
.19
.17
.15
.14
.13
9
.34
.28
.24
.21
.19
.17
.15
.14
10
.38
.31
.27
.23
.21
.19
.17
.16
Legally Intoxicated
Criminal Penalties
3
Impairment Driving Skills Significantly Affected
Begins
Criminal Penalties
.04
Only Safe
Driving Limit
120
2
100
1
Effects
Drinks
0
Body Weight in Pounds
Subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking. One
drink is 1.25 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5
oz. of table wine.
Figure 2.22
 A 5-ounce glass of 12% wine.
 A 1½-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.
Alcohol and the Brain. Alcohol affects more and
more of the brain as BAC builds up. The first part
of the brain affected controls judgment and selfcontrol. One of the bad things about this is it can
keep drinkers from knowing they are getting drunk.
And, of course, good judgment and self-control are
absolutely necessary for safe driving.
As BAC continues to build up, muscle control, vision, and coordination are affected more and
more. Effects on driving may include:
 Straddling lanes.
 Quick, jerky starts.
 Not signaling, failure to use lights.
 Running stop signs and red lights.
 Improper passing.
See Figure 2.23.
These effects mean increased chances of a crash
and chances of losing your driver's license. Accident statistics show that the chance of a crash is
much greater for drivers who have been drinking
than for drivers who have not.
How Alcohol Affects Driving. All drivers are affected by drinking alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision, coordination, and reaction time. It
causes serious driving errors, such as:
 Increased reaction time to hazards.
 Driving too fast or too slow.
 Driving in the wrong lane.
 Running over the curb.
 Weaving.
OTHER DRUGS
All of the following drinks contain the same amount
of alcohol:
 A 12-ounce glass of 5% beer.
What Determines Blood Alcohol Concentration? BAC is determined by the amount of alcohol
you drink (more alcohol means higher BAC), how
fast you drink (faster drinking means higher BAC),
and your weight (a small person doesn't have to
drink as much to reach the same BAC).
Besides alcohol, other legal and illegal drugs are
being used more often. Laws prohibit possession
or use of many drugs while on duty. They prohibit
being under the influence of any "controlled substance," amphetamines (including "pep pills," “uppers,” and "bennies"), narcotics, or any other substance, which can make the driver unsafe. This
could include a variety of prescription and over-thecounter drugs (cold medicines), which may make
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-37
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Effects of Increasing
Blood Alcohol Content
Blood Alcohol Content is the amount of alcohol in
your blood recorded in milligrams of alcohol per 100
millimeters of blood or milligrams. Your BAC depends
on the amount of blood (which increases with weight)
and the amount of alcohol you consume over time
(how fast you drink). The faster you drink, the higher
your BAC, as the liver can only handle about one
drink per hour—the rest builds up in your blood.
BAC
.02
Effects on Body
Mellow felling, slight body
warmth.
.05
Noticeable relaxation.
.08
Definite impairment in
coordination and judgment.
.10*
.15
.30
.40
.50
Noisy, possible
embarrassing behavior,
mood swings.
Impaired balance and
movement, clearly drunk.
Many lose consciousness.
Most lose consciousness,
some die.
Breathing stops, many die.
Effects on
Driving
Condition
Less inhibited.
Less alert, less
self-focused,
coordination
impairment
begins.
Drunk driving
limit, impaired
coordination
and judgment.
Reduction in
reaction time.
Unable to drive.
BAC of .10 means that 1/10 of 1 % (or 1/1000) of
your total blood content is alcohol.
Figure 2.23
the driver drowsy or otherwise affect safe driving
ability. However, possession and use of a drug
given to a driver by a doctor is permitted if the doctor informs the driver that it will not affect safe driving ability.
Pay attention to warning labels for legitimate drugs
and medicines, and to doctor's orders regarding
possible effects. Stay away from illegal drugs.
Do not use any drug that hides fatigue—the only
cure for fatigue is rest. Alcohol can make the effects of other drugs much worse. The safest rule is
do not mix drugs with driving at all.
Use of drugs can lead to traffic accidents resulting
in death, injury, and property damage. Furthermore, it can lead to arrest, fines, and jail sentences. It can also mean the end of a person's driving career.
2.23 – Staying Alert and Fit to Drive
Driving a vehicle for long hours is tiring. Even the
best of drivers will become less alert. However,
there are things that good drivers do to help stay
alert and safe.
BE READY TO DRIVE
Get Enough Sleep. Sleep is not like money. You
cannot save it up ahead of time and you cannot
borrow it. But, just as with money, you can go into
debt with it. If you do not sleep enough, you “owe”
more sleep to yourself. This debt can only be paid
off by sleeping. You cannot overcome it with willpower, and it will not go away by itself. The average person needs seven or eight hours of sleep
every 24 hours. Leaving on a long trip when you
are already tired is dangerous. If you have a long
trip scheduled, make sure that you get enough
sleep before you go.
Schedule Trips Safely. Try to arrange your
schedule so you are not in “sleep debt” before a
long trip. Your body gets used to sleeping during
certain hours. If you are driving during those hours,
you will be less alert. If possible, try to schedule
trips for the hours you are normally awake. Many
heavy motor vehicle accidents occur between midnight and 6 a.m. Tired drivers can easily fall asleep
at these times, especially if they do not regularly
drive at those hours. Trying to push on and finish a
long trip at these times can be very dangerous.
Exercise Regularly. Resistance to fatigue and
improved sleep are among the benefits of regular
exercise. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily
life. Instead of sitting and watching TV in your
sleeper, walk or jog a few laps around the parking
lot. A little bit of daily exercise will give you energy
throughout the day.
Eat Healthy. It is often hard for drivers to find
healthy food. But with a little extra effort, you can
eat healthy, even on the road. Try to find restaurants with healthy, balanced meals. If you must eat
at fast-food restaurants, pick low-fat items. Another
simple way to reduce your caloric intake is to
eliminate fattening snacks. Instead, try fruit or
vegetables.
Avoid Medication. Many medicines can make you
sleepy. Those that do have a label warning against
operating vehicles or machinery. The most common medicine of this type is an ordinary cold pill. If
you have to drive with a cold, you are better off
suffering from the cold than from the effects of the
medicine.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-38
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Visit Your Doctor. Regular checkups literally can
be lifesavers. Illnesses such as diabetes, heart
disease, and skin and colon cancer can be detected easily and treated if found in time.
Consult your physician or a local sleep disorder center if you suffer from frequent daytime sleepiness,
have difficulty sleeping at night, take frequent naps,
fall asleep at strange times, snore loudly, gasp and
choke in your sleep, and/or wake up feeling as
though you have not had enough sleep.
WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING
Keep Cool. A hot, poorly ventilated vehicle can
make you sleepy. Keep the window or vent
cracked open or use the air conditioner, if you
have one.
Take Breaks. Short breaks can keep you alert. But
the time to take them is before you feel really
drowsy or tired. Stop often. Walk around and inspect your vehicle. It may help to do some physical
exercises.
Be sure to take a mid-afternoon break and plan to
sleep between midnight and 6 a.m.
Recognize the Danger Signals of Drowsy Driving. Sleep is not voluntary. If you are drowsy, you
can fall asleep and never even know it. If you are
drowsy, you are likely to have “micro sleeps”–brief
naps that last around four or five seconds. At 55
miles an hour, that is more than 100 yards, and
plenty of time for a crash. Even if you are not
aware of being drowsy, if you have a sleep debt
you are still at risk. Here are a few ways to tell if
you are about to fall asleep. If you experience any
of these danger signs, take them as a warning that
you could fall asleep without meaning to.
 Your eyes close or go out of focus by themselves.
 You have trouble keeping your head up.
 You cannot stop yawning.
 You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.
 You do not remember driving the last few miles.
 You drift between lanes, tailgate, or miss traffic
signs.
WHEN YOU DO BECOME SLEEPY
When you are sleepy, trying to "push on" is far
more dangerous than most drivers think. It is a major cause of fatal accidents. Here are some important rules to follow.
Stop to Sleep. When your body needs sleep,
sleep is the only thing that will work. If you have to
make a stop anyway, make it whenever you feel
the first signs of sleepiness, even if it is earlier than
you planned. By getting up a little earlier the next
day, you can keep on schedule without the danger
of driving while you are not alert.
Take a Nap. If you cannot stop for the night, at
least pull off at a safe place, such as a rest area or
truck stop, and take a nap. A nap as short as a
half-hour will do more to overcome fatigue than a
half-hour coffee stop.
Avoid Drugs. There are no drugs that can overcome being tired. While they may keep you awake
for a while, they will not make you alert. And eventually, you will be even more tired than if you had
not taken them at all. Sleep is the only thing that
can overcome fatigue.
Do Not. Do not rely on coffee or another source of
caffeine to keep you awake. Do not count on the
radio, an open window, or other tricks to keep you
awake.
ILLNESS
Once in a while, you may become so ill that you
cannot operate a motor vehicle safely. If this happens to you, you must not drive. However, in case
of an emergency, you may drive to the nearest
place where you can safely stop.
2.24 – Hazardous Materials Rules for
All Commercial Drivers
All drivers should know something about hazardous materials. You must be able to recognize hazardous cargo, and you must know whether or not
you can haul it without having a hazardous materials endorsement on your CDL license.
 You keep jerking the truck back into the lane.
WHAT ARE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS?
 You have drifted off the road and narrowly missed
crashing.
Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk
to health, safety, and property during transportation. See Figure 2.24.
If you have even one of these symptoms, you may
be in danger of falling asleep. Pull off the road in a
safe place and take a nap.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-39
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Class
1
Explosives
2
Gases
3
Flammable
4
Flammable
Solids
5
Oxidizers
6
7
Poisons
Radioactive
8
Corrosives
9
None
None
them on top of other shipping papers. You must
also keep shipping papers:
Hazard Class Definitions
Class Name
Example
Miscellaneous
Hazardous
Materials
ORM-D (Other
Regulated
MaterialDomestic)
Combustible
Liquids
Ammunition,
Dynamite, Fireworks
Propane, Oxygen,
Helium
Gasoline Fuel,
Acetone
 In a pouch on the driver's door, or
Matches, Fuses
LISTS OF REGULATED PRODUCTS
Ammonium Nitrate,
Hydrogen Peroxide
Pesticides, Arsenic
Uranium, Plutonium
Hydrochloric Acid,
Battery Acid
Formaldehyde,
Asbestos
Hair Spray or Charcoal
Fuel Oils, Lighter Fluid
Figure 2.24
WHY ARE THERE RULES?
You must follow the many rules about transporting
hazardous materials. The intent of the rules is to:
 Contain the product.
 Communicate the risk.
 Ensure safe drivers and equipment.
To Contain the Product. Many hazardous products can injure or kill on contact. To protect drivers
and others from contact, the rules tell shippers how
to package safely. Similar rules tell drivers how to
load, transport, and unload bulk tanks. These are
containment rules.
To Communicate the Risk. The shipper uses a
shipping paper and diamond shaped hazard labels
to warn dockworkers and drivers of the risk.
After an accident or hazardous material spill or
leak, you may be injured and unable to communicate the hazards of the materials you are transporting. Firefighters and police can prevent or reduce
the amount of damage or injury at the scene if they
know what hazardous materials are being carried.
Your life, and the lives of others, may depend on
quickly locating the hazardous materials shipping
papers. For that reason, you must tab shipping
papers related to hazardous materials or keep
 In clear view within reach while driving, or
 On the driver's seat when out of the vehicle.
Placards are used to warn others of hazardous
materials. Placards are signs put on the outside of
a vehicle that identify the hazard class of the
cargo. A placarded vehicle must have at least four
identical placards. They are put on the front, rear,
and both sides. Placards must be readable from all
four directions. They are at least 10¾ inches
square, turned upright on a point, in a diamond
shape. Cargo tanks and other bulk packaging display the identification number of their contents on
placards or orange panels.
Identification Numbers are a four digit code used
by first responders to identify hazardous materials.
An identification number may be used to identify
more than one chemical on shipping papers. The
identification number will be preceded by the letters “NA” or “UN”. The US DOT Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) identifies the chemicals
all identification numbers are assigned to.
Not all vehicles carrying hazardous materials need
to have placards. The rules about placards are
given in Section 10 of this handbook. You can drive
a vehicle that carries hazardous materials if it does
not require placards. If it requires placards, you
cannot drive it unless your have a CDL that has the
hazardous materials endorsement. See Figure 2.25
The rules require all drivers of placarded vehicles
to learn how to safely load and transport hazardous products. They must have a commercial driver
license with the hazardous materials endorsement.
To get the required endorsement, you must pass a
written test on material found in Section 10 of this
handbook. A tank endorsement is required for certain vehicles that transport liquids or gases. The
liquid or gas does not have to be a hazardous material. A tank endorsement is required if your vehicle is a Class A, B or C CMV and your vehicle has
a permanently mounted cargo tank of 119 gallons
or more; or your vehicle is carrying a portable tank
with a capacity of 1,000 gallons or more.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-40
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Subsections 2.22, 2.23, and 2.24
Test Your Knowledge
1. Common medicines for colds can make you
sleepy. True or False?
2. What should you do if you become sleepy
while driving?
3. Coffee and a little fresh air will help a drinker
sober up. True or False?
4. What is a hazardous materials placard?
5. Why are placards used?
6. What is “sleep debt”?
7. What are the danger signals of drowsy driving?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 2.22, 2.23,
and 2.24.
Figure 2.25
Drivers who need the hazardous materials endorsement must learn the placard rules. If you do
not know if your vehicle needs placards, ask your
employer. Never drive a vehicle needing placards
unless you have the hazardous materials endorsement. To do so is a crime. When stopped,
you will be cited and you will not be allowed to
drive your truck further. It will cost you time and
money. A failure to placard when needed may risk
your life and others if you have an accident. Emergency help will not know of your hazardous cargo.
Hazardous materials drivers must also know which
products they can load together, and which they
cannot. These rules are also in Section 10. Before
loading a truck with more than one type of product,
you must know if it is safe to load them together. If
you do not know, ask your employer.
Section 2 – Driving Safely
Page 2-41
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 After you have driven for 3 hours or 150 miles.
Section 3
 After every break you take during driving.
TRANSPORTING CARGO
SAFELY
This Section Covers




Inspecting Cargo
Cargo Weight and Balance
Securing Cargo
Cargo Needing Special Attention
This section tells you about hauling cargo safely.
You must understand basic cargo safety rules to
get a CDL.
If you load cargo wrong or do not secure it, it can be
a danger to yourself and others. Loose cargo that
falls off a vehicle can cause traffic problems and
others could be hurt or killed. Loose cargo could
hurt or kill you during a quick stop or crash. Your
vehicle could be damaged by an overload. Steering
could be affected by how a vehicle is loaded, making it more difficult to control the vehicle.
Whether or not you load and secure the cargo
yourself, you are responsible for:
 Inspecting your cargo.
 Recognizing overloads and poorly balanced weight.
 Knowing your cargo is properly secured and does
not obscure your view ahead or to the sides.
 Knowing your cargo does not restrict your access to
emergency equipment.
If you intend to carry hazardous material that requires placards on your vehicle, you will also need
to have a hazardous materials endorsement. Section 10 of this handbook has the information you
need to pass the hazardous materials test.
Federal, state, and local regulations for commercial
vehicle weight, securing cargo, covering loads, and
where you can drive large vehicles vary from place
to place. Know the rules where you will be driving.
3.2 – Weight and Balance
You are responsible for not being overloaded. The
following are some definitions of weight you should
know.
DEFINITIONS YOU SHOULD KNOW
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW). The total weight of
a single vehicle plus its load.
Gross Combination Weight (GCW). The total
weight of a powered unit, plus trailer(s), plus the
cargo.
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). The
maximum GVW specified by the manufacturer for a
single vehicle plus its load.
Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR). The
maximum GCW specified by the manufacturer for
a specific combination of vehicles plus its load.
Axle Weight. The weight transmitted to the ground
by one axle or one set of axles.
Tire Load. The maximum safe weight a tire can
carry at a specified pressure. This rating is stated
on the side of each tire.
Suspension Systems. Suspension systems have
a manufacturer's weight capacity rating.
Coupling Device Capacity. Coupling devices are
rated for the maximum weight they can pull and/or
carry.
3.1 – Inspecting Cargo
LEGAL WEIGHT LIMITS
As part of your pre-trip inspection, make sure the
truck is not overloaded and the cargo is balanced
and secured properly.
After Starting. Inspect the cargo and its securing
devices again within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip. Make any adjustments needed.
You must keep weights within legal limits. States
have maximums for GVWs, GCWs, and axle
weights. Often, maximum axle weights are set by a
bridge formula. A bridge formula permits less
maximum axle weight for axles that are closer together. This is to prevent overloading bridges and
roadways.
Re-check. Re-check the cargo and securing devices as often as necessary during a trip to keep
the load secure. A good habit is to inspect again:
Overloading can have bad effects on steering,
braking, and speed control. Overloaded trucks
have to go very slowly on upgrades. Worse, they
Section 3 – Transporting Cargo Safely
Page 3-1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
may gain too much speed on downgrades. Stopping distance increases. Brakes can fail when
forced to work too hard.
During bad weather or in mountains, it may not be
safe to operate at legal maximum weights. Take
this into account before driving.
DON'T BE TOP-HEAVY
going. Weight that is loaded so there is a high center of gravity causes greater chance of rollover. On
flat bed vehicles, there is also a greater chance
that the load will shift to the side or fall off. See
Figure 3.1.
3.3 – Securing Cargo
BLOCKING AND BRACING
The height of the vehicle's center of gravity is very
important for safe handling. A high center of gravity
(cargo piled up high or heavy cargo on top) means
you are more likely to tip over. It is most dangerous
in curves, or if you have to swerve to avoid a hazard. It is very important to distribute the cargo so it
is as low as possible. Put the heaviest parts of the
cargo under the lightest parts.
Blocking is used in the front, back, and/or sides of
a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is
shaped to fit snugly against cargo. It is secured to
the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement. Bracing is also used to prevent movement of cargo.
Bracing goes from the upper part of the cargo to
the floor and/or walls of the cargo compartment.
BALANCE THE WEIGHT
CARGO TIEDOWN
Poor weight balance can make vehicle handling
unsafe. Too much weight on the steering axle can
cause hard steering. It can damage the steering
axle and tires. Under-loaded front axles (caused by
shifting weight too far to the rear) can make the
steering axle weight too light to steer safely. Too
little weight on the driving axles can cause poor
traction. The drive wheels may spin easily. During
On flatbed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo
must be secured to keep it from shifting or falling
off. In closed vans, tie downs can also be important
to prevent cargo shifting that may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tie downs must be of the
proper type and proper strength. The combined
strength of all cargo tie downs must be strong
enough to lift one and one-half times the weight of
the piece of cargo tied down. Proper tie down
equipment must be used, including ropes, straps,
chains, and tensioning devices (winches, ratchets,
clinching components). Tie downs must be attached to the vehicle correctly (hooks, bolts, rails,
rings). See Figure 3.2.
Figure 3.2
Cargo should have at least one tie down for each
ten feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tie
downs to meet this need. No matter how small the
cargo, it should have at least two tie downs.
Figure 3.1
There are special requirements for securing various heavy pieces of metal. Find out what they are
if you are to carry such loads.
bad weather, the truck may not be able to keep
Section 3 – Transporting Cargo Safely
Page 3-2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
HEADER BOARDS
LIVESTOCK
Front-end header boards ("headache racks") protect
you from your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure the front-end structure is in
good condition. The front-end structure should block
the forward movement of any cargo you carry.
COVERING CARGO
Livestock can move around in a trailer, causing
unsafe handling. With less than a full load, use
false bulkheads to keep livestock bunched together. Even when bunched, special care is necessary because livestock can lean on curves. This
shifts the center of gravity and makes rollover more
likely.
There are two basic reasons for covering cargo:
OVERSIZED LOADS
 To protect people from spilled cargo.
Over-length, over-width, and/or overweight loads
require special transit permits. Driving is usually
limited to certain times. Special equipment may be
necessary such as "wide load" signs, flashing
lights, flags, etc. Such loads may require a police
escort or pilot vehicles bearing warning signs
and/or flashing lights. These special loads require
special driving care.
 To protect the cargo from weather.
Spill protection is a safety requirement in many
states. Be familiar with the laws in the states you
drive in.
You should look at your cargo covers in the mirrors
from time to time while driving. A flapping cover
can tear loose, uncovering the cargo, and possibly
block your view or someone else's.
SEALED AND CONTAINERIZED LOADS
Containerized loads generally are used when
freight is carried part way by rail or ship. Delivery
by truck occurs at the beginning and/or end of the
journey. Some containers have their own tie down
devices or locks that attach directly to a special
frame. Others have to be loaded onto flat bed trailers. They must be properly secured just like any
other cargo.
You cannot inspect sealed loads, but you should
check that you do not exceed gross weight and
axle weight limits.
3.4 – Cargo Needing Special Attention
DRY BULK
Dry bulk tanks require special care because they
have a high center of gravity, and the load can
shift. Be extremely cautious (slow and careful) going around curves and making sharp turns.
Section 3
Test Your Knowledge
1. What four things related to cargo are drivers
responsible for?
2. How often must you stop while on the road to
check your cargo?
3. How is Gross Combination Weight Rating different from Gross Combination Weight?
4. Name two situations where legal maximum
weights may not be safe.
5. What can happen if you do not have enough
weight on the front axle?
6. What is the minimum number of tie downs for
any flat bed load?
7. What is the minimum number of tie downs for
a 20-foot load?
8. Name the two basic reasons for covering
cargo on an open bed.
9. What must you check before transporting a
sealed load?
These questions may be on your test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read Section 3.
HANGING MEAT
Hanging meat (suspended beef, pork, lamb) in a
refrigerated truck can be a very unstable load with
a high center of gravity. Particular caution is
needed on sharp curves such as off ramps and on
ramps. Go slowly.
Section 3 – Transporting Cargo Safely
Page 3-3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Tires (front wheels must not have recapped or regrooved tires).
Section 4
TRANSPORTING
PASSENGERS SAFELY
 Windshield wiper or wipers.
 Rear-vision mirror or mirrors.
 Coupling devices (if present).
This Section Covers






 Horn.
Vehicle Inspection
Loading
On the Road
After-trip Vehicle Inspection
Prohibited Practices
Use of Brake-door Interlocks
Bus Drivers must have a commercial driver license
if they drive a vehicle designed to seat 16 or more
persons, including the driver.
 Wheels and rims.
 Emergency equipment.
ACCESS DOORS AND PANELS
As you check the outside of the bus, close any
open emergency exits. Also, close any open access panels (for baggage, restroom service, engine, etc.) before driving.
Bus drivers must have a passenger endorsement
on their commercial driver’s license. To receive the
endorsement you must take and pass a knowledge
test covering this Section and Section 2 of the CDL
Driver’s Handbook. If your bus has air brakes, you
must also take and pass a knowledge test on Section 6 of the CDL Driver Handbook dealing with the
air brake system. Once all of the required written
tests have been passed and you have your CDL
Instruction Permit, the three skill tests required for
the class of passenger vehicle you drive must be
taken and passed to obtain your CDL license.
BUS INTERIOR
4.1 – Vehicle Inspection
 Emergency exit handles.
Before driving your bus, you must be sure it is
safe. You must review the inspection report completed by the previous driver. Only if defects reported earlier have been certified as repaired or
not needing repair, should you sign the previous
driver’s report. This is your certification that the
defects reported earlier have been fixed.
The seats must be safe for riders. All seats must
be securely fastened to the bus.
Make sure the following items are in good working
order before driving:
VEHICLE SYSTEMS
Make sure these things are in good working order
before driving:
 Service brakes, including air hose couplings.
 Parking brake.
 Steering mechanism.
People sometimes damage unattended buses.
Always check the interior of the bus before driving
to ensure rider safety. Aisles and stairwells should
always be clear. The following parts of your bus
must be in safe working condition:
 Each handhold and railing.
 Floor covering.
 Signaling devices, including the restroom emergency buzzer, if the bus has a restroom.
Never drive with an open emergency exit door or
window. The "Emergency Exit" sign on an emergency door must be clearly visible. If there is a red
emergency door light, it must work. Turn it on at
night or any other time you use your outside lights.
ROOF HATCHES
You may lock some emergency roof hatches in a
partly open position for fresh air. Do not leave them
open as a regular practice. Keep in mind the bus'
clearance is higher, while driving with them open.
Make sure your bus has the fire extinguisher and
emergency reflectors required by law. The bus
must also have spare electrical fuses, unless
equipped with circuit breakers.
 Lights and reflectors.
Section 4- Transporting Passengers Safely
Page 4 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
USE YOUR SEATBELT!
FORBIDDEN HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
The driver's seat must have a seat belt. Always
use it for safety.
Buses may carry small-arms ammunition labeled
ORM-D, emergency hospital supplies, and drugs.
You can carry small amounts of some other hazardous materials if the shipper cannot send them
any other way. Buses must never carry:
4.2 – Loading and Trip Start
Do not allow riders to leave carry-on baggage in a
doorway or aisle. There should be nothing in the
aisle that might trip other riders. Secure baggage
and freight in ways that avoid damage and:
 Allow the driver to move freely and easily.
 Allow riders to exit by any window or door in an
emergency.
 Protect riders from injury if carry-ons fall or shift.
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
Watch for cargo or baggage containing hazardous
materials. Most hazardous materials cannot be
carried on a bus. The Federal Hazardous Materials
Table shows which materials are hazardous. They
pose a risk to health, safety and property during
transportation. The rules require shippers to mark
containers of hazardous material with the material’s name, identification number and hazard label.
There are nine different 4-inch diamond shaped
hazard labels like the examples shown in Figure 41. Watch for the diamond shaped labels. Do not
transport any hazardous material unless you are
sure the rules allow it.
 Division 2.3 poison gas, liquid Class 6 poison, tear
gas, irritating material.
 More than 100 pounds of solid Class 6 poisons.
 Explosives in the space occupied by people, except
small arms ammunition.
 Labeled radioactive materials in the space occupied
by people.
 More than 500 pounds total of allowed hazardous
materials, and no more than 100 pounds of any one
class.
Riders sometimes board a bus with an unlabeled
hazardous material. Do not allow riders to carry on
common hazards such as car batteries or gasoline.
STANDEE LINE
No rider may stand forward of the rear of the
driver's seat. Buses designed to allow standing,
must have a two-inch line on the floor or some
other means of showing riders where they cannot
stand. This is called the standee line. All standing
riders must stay behind it.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
When arriving at the destination or intermediate
stops announce:
 The location.
 Reason for stopping.
 Next departure time.
Remind riders to take carry-ons with them if they
get off the bus. If the aisle is on a lower level than
the seats, remind riders of the step-down. It is best
to tell them before coming to a complete stop.
Charter bus drivers should not allow riders on the
bus until departure time. This will help prevent theft
or vandalism of the bus.
Figure 4.1
Section 4- Transporting Passengers Safely
Page 4 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Test Your Knowledge
1. Name some things to check in the interior of a
bus during a pre-trip inspection.
2. What are some hazardous materials you can
transport by bus?
3. What are some hazardous materials you cannot transport by bus?
4. What is a standee line?
These questions may be on the test. If you cannot
answer them all, reread Sections 4.1 and 4.2.
4.3 – On The Road
PASSENGER SUPERVISION
Many charter and intercity carriers have passenger
comfort and safety rules. Mention rules about
smoking, drinking, or use of radio and tape players
at the start of the trip. Explaining the rules at the
start will help to avoid trouble later on.
While driving, scan the interior of your bus as well
as the road ahead, to the sides, and to the rear.
You may have to remind riders about rules, or to
keep arms and heads inside the bus.
AT STOPS
Riders can stumble when getting on or off, and
when the bus starts or stops. Caution riders to
watch their step when leaving the bus. Wait for
them to sit down or brace themselves before starting. Starting and stopping should be as smooth as
possible to avoid rider injury.
Occasionally, you may have a drunk or disruptive
rider. You must ensure this rider's safety as well as
that of others. Do not discharge such riders where
it would be unsafe for them. It may be safer at the
next scheduled stop or a well-lighted area where
there are other people. Many carriers have guidelines for handling disruptive riders.
COMMON CRASHES
The Most Common Bus Crashes. Bus crashes
often happen at intersections. Use caution, even if
a signal or stop sign controls other traffic. School
and mass transit buses sometimes scrape off mirrors or hit passing vehicles when pulling out from a
bus stop. Remember the clearance your bus
needs, and watch for poles and tree limbs at stops.
Know the size of the gap your bus needs to accel-
erate and merge with traffic. Wait for the gap to
open before leaving the stop. Never assume other
drivers will brake to give you room when you signal
or start to pull out.
SPEED ON CURVES
Crashes on curves that kill people and destroy
buses result from excessive speed, often when
rain or snow has made the road slippery. Every
banked curve has a safe "design speed." In good
weather, the posted speed is safe for cars but it
may be too high for many buses. With good traction, the bus may roll over; with poor traction, it
might slide off the curve. Reduce speed for curves!
If your bus leans toward the outside on a banked
curve, you are driving too fast.
RAILROAD-HIGHWAY CROSSINGS STOPS
Stop at RR Crossings:
Stop at railroad crossings. Stop your bus between
15 and 50 feet before railroad crossings. Listen
and look in both directions for trains. You should
open your service door. Close the service door
before moving the vehicle or crossing the railroad
tracks. Before crossing, after a train has passed,
make sure there is not another train coming in the
other direction on other tracks. If your bus has a
manual transmission, never change gears while
crossing the tracks.
You do not have to stop, but must slow down and
carefully check for other vehicles:
 Where a policeman or flagman is directing traffic.
 If a traffic signal shows green.
 At crossings marked as ‘exempt’ or ‘abandoned.’
DRAWBRIDGES
Stop at Drawbridges. Stop at drawbridges that do
not have a signal light or traffic control attendant.
Stop at least 50 feet before the draw of the bridge.
Look to make sure the draw is completely closed
before crossing. You do not need to stop, but must
slow down and make sure it is safe, when:
 There is a traffic light showing green.
 The bridge has an attendant or traffic officer who
controls traffic whenever the bridge opens.
Section 4- Transporting Passengers Safely
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
4.4 – Post-trip Vehicle Inspection
Inspect your bus at the end of each shift. If you
work for an interstate carrier, you must complete a
written inspection report for each bus driven. The
report must specify each bus and list any defect
that would affect safety or result in a breakdown. If
there are no defects, the report should say so.
Riders sometimes damage safety-related parts
such as handholds, seats, emergency exits, and
windows. If you report this damage at the end of a
shift, mechanics can make repairs before the bus
goes out again. Mass transit drivers should also
make sure passenger signaling devices and brakedoor interlocks work properly.
4.5 – Prohibited Practices
Section 4
Test Your Knowledge
1. Does it matter where you make a disruptive
passenger get off the bus?
2. How far from a railroad crossing should you
stop?
3. When must you stop before crossing a drawbridge?
4. Describe from memory the ‘prohibited practices listed above.
5. The rear door of a transit bus has to be open
to put on the parking brake. True or False?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read Section 4.3–4.6.
Avoid fueling your bus with riders on board unless
absolutely necessary. Never refuel in a closed
building with riders on board.
Don't talk with riders, or engage in any other distracting activity, while driving.
Do not tow or push a disabled bus with riders
aboard the vehicle, unless getting off would be unsafe. Only tow or push the bus to the nearest safe
spot to discharge passengers. Follow your employer's guidelines on towing or pushing disabled
buses.
4.6 – Use of Brake-door Interlocks
Urban mass transit coaches may have a brake and
accelerator interlock system. The interlock applies
the brakes and holds the throttle in idle position
when the rear door is open. The interlock releases
when you close the rear door. Do not use this
safety feature in place of the parking brake.
Section 4- Transporting Passengers Safely
Page 4 - 4
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 5
SCHOOL BUSES
This Section Covers

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
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
Introduction
Danger Zones and Use of Mirrors
Loading and Unloading
Emergency Exit and Evacuation
Railroad-highway Grade Crossings
Student Management
Antilock Braking Systems
Special Safety Considerations
The laws and regulations specific to Colorado have
been incorporated into this section. The school buses
referenced are designed to carry 16 or more students
plus the driver and fall within CDL licensing.
Section 5 covers any driver operating a school bus
used to transport public, private, and parochial or
any other type of pre-primary, primary or secondary students from home to school, from school to
home or to and from school sponsored events.
‘School Bus’ does not include a bus used as a
common carrier. A school bus driver should be
thoroughly familiar with both the state laws and the
Colorado Department of Education regulations
concerning school bus operation.
5.1 – Danger Zones and Use of Mirrors
DANGER ZONES
The danger zone is the area on all sides of the bus
where children are in the most danger of being hit,
either by another vehicle or their own bus. The
danger zones may extend as much as 30 feet from
the front bumper, 10 feet from the left and right
sides of the bus and 10 feet behind the rear
bumper of the school bus. In addition, the area to
the left of the bus is always considered dangerous
because of passing cars. Figure 5.1 illustrates
these danger zones.
Figure 5.1
OUTSIDE LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE FLAT
MIRRORS
These mirrors are mounted at the left and right
front corners of the bus at the side or front of the
windshield. They are used to monitor traffic, check
clearances and students on the sides and to the
rear of the bus. There is a blind spot immediately
below and in front of each mirror and directly in
back of the rear bumper. The blind spot behind the
bus could extend up to 400 feet depending on the
width of the bus.
Ensure that the mirrors are properly adjusted so
you can see:
 200 feet or 4 bus lengths behind the bus.
 Along the sides of the bus.
CORRECT MIRROR ADJUSTMENT
Proper adjustment and use of all mirrors is vital to
the safe operation of the school bus in order to
observe the danger zone around the bus and look
for students, traffic, and other objects in this area.
You should always check each mirror before operating the school bus to obtain maximum viewing
area. If necessary, adjust the mirrors.
 The rear tires touching the ground.
Figure 5.2 shows how both the outside left and
right side flat mirrors should be adjusted.
Section 5 – School Buses
Page 5 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Figure 5.3
Figure 5.2
OUTSIDE LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE CONVEX
MIRRORS
The convex mirrors are located below the outside
flat mirrors. They are used to monitor the left and
right sides at a wide angle. They provide a view of
traffic, clearances, and students at the side of the
bus. These mirrors present a view of people and
objects that does not accurately reflect their size
and distance from the bus.
front wheel area. The mirror presents a view of
people and objects that does not accurately reflect
their size and distance from the bus. The driver
must ensure that these mirrors are properly adjusted. These mirrors are used to load and unload
passengers/students.
Ensure that the mirrors are properly adjusted so
you can see:
 The entire side of the bus up to the mirror mounts.
 The entire area in front of the bus from the front
bumper at ground level to a point where direct vision is possible. Direct vision and mirror view vision
should overlap.
 Front of the rear tires touching the ground.
 The right and left front tires touching the ground.
 At least one traffic lane on either side of the bus.
 The area from the front of the bus to the service
door on the right and to the stop arm on the left.
Figure 5.3 shows how both the outside left and
right side convex mirrors should be adjusted.
 These mirrors, along with the convex and flat mirrors, should be viewed in a logical sequence to ensure that a child or object is not in any of the danger
zones.
You should position these mirrors to see:
OUTSIDE LEFT AND RIGHT SIDE CROSSOVER
MIRRORS
These mirrors are mounted on both left and right
front corners of the bus. They are used to see the
front bumper “danger zone” area directly in front of
the bus that is not visible by direct vision, and to
view the “danger zone” area to the left side and
right side of the bus, including the service door and
Figure 5.4 illustrates how the left and right side
crossover mirrors should be adjusted.
Section 5 – School Buses
Page 5 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
OVERHEAD INSIDE STUDENT (REARVIEW)
MIRROR
This mirror is mounted directly above the wind-
tors for the safe loading and unloading of students
and will help prevent crashes or injury.
LOADING PROCEDURES
By Colorado State Statute, each school district
establishes official routes and official school bus
stops. The location of the student stops should
consider factors that include visibility, lateral clearance, student access and control of other motorists. The route operator should never relocate the
student stop without supervisor approval. The supervisor will specify the procedures to be followed
by the route operator to relocate a student stop in
an emergency.
You must use extreme caution when approaching
a school bus stop. One of the most important maneuvers you make is the loading and unloading of
students. This is the point where students and
drivers are exposed to many hazards. You must
learn the proper procedures for controlling traffic,
students crossing roads or streets, loading and
unloading students and proper seating of students.
shield on the driver’s side area of the bus. This
mirror is used to monitor passenger activity inside
the bus. It may provide limited visibility directly in
back of the bus if the bus is equipped with a glassbottomed rear emergency door. There is a blind
spot area directly behind the driver’s seat as well
as a large blind spot area that begins at the rear
bumper and could extend up to 400 feet or more
behind the bus. You must use the exterior side
mirrors to monitor traffic that approaches and enters this area.
You should position the mirror to see:
 The top of the rear window in the top of the mirror.
 All of the students, including the heads of the students right behind you.
5.2 – Loading and Unloading
More students are killed while getting on or off a
school bus each year than are killed as passengers
inside of a school bus. As a result, knowing what to
do before, during, and after loading or unloading
students is critical. This section will give you specific
procedures to help you avoid unsafe conditions
which could result in injuries and fatalities during
and after loading and unloading students.
The information in this section will provide both a
broad and a definitive set of procedures authored
by the Colorado Department of Education and the
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administra-
When approaching the stop, you should:
 Approach cautiously at a slow rate of speed in
preparation for the stop. Look for pedestrians, traffic
or other objects before, during and after coming to a
stop.
 Continuously check all mirrors.
 Apply the brakes to activate the brake lights so that
motorists following will know you are about to stop.
 Apply the right turn signal indicating a move to the
right.
 Activate the amber lights of the 8-way warning light
system not less than 500 feet from the bus stop in
rural areas and at least 200 feet or the length of one
city block from the bus stop within the corporate limits of a town or city. Do not activate the red lights of
the 8-way warning light system until you are completely stopped.
 Check traffic in all directions using all the mirrors to
monitor the danger zones for students, traffic, and
other objects and to see that it is safe to pull to the
right to stop. Do not leave the roadway.
 Approach the students with extreme caution giving
due consideration to the surface on which you are
stopping: dry, slippery, sharp dips to the right, rough
ground, etc.
 Stop the bus to allow an area to the right and front
of the bus for students to safely clear while in sight.
 The students must be instructed and trained to
Section 5 – School Buses
Page 5 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
stand away from the curb or roadway so they are
not next to the bus when it stops to load.
 If students must cross the road, they should be instructed to wait until the bus and all traffic has
stopped. It is required that students be instructed
when crossing in front of the school bus, to walk a
distance of approximately 10 feet in front of the
school bus after crossing the roadway.
 The parking brake must be set and the transmission placed in neutral or park (if equipped).
 Make a final visual check around the vehicle scanning and using the mirrors to see that all traffic has
stopped before completely opening the door.
 Open the service door when you are ready to
board students. The students must be trained not
to move toward the vehicle until directed by the
driver with a predetermined hand motion. Opening the door automatically deactivates the amber
lights of the 8-way warning light system and activates the red lights of the 8-way warning light
system and stop arm, on most buses.
 Once students begin boarding, the students must
be instructed to go directly to their seats as prescribed by local school district procedures.
 Make sure all students are properly seated.
 Check all mirrors. Make certain no one is running to
catch the bus.
 If you cannot account for a student outside, secure
the bus, take the key and check around and underneath the bus. When all students are accounted for,
you can prepare to leave.
 Deactivate the red lights of the 8-way warning light
system and stop arm by closing the service door.
 “The driver of a school bus that has stopped shall
allow time for any vehicles that have stopped behind the school bus to pass the school bus, if such
passing is legally permissible where the school bus
is stopped, after the visual signal lights, if any, are
no longer being displayed or actuated and after all
children who have embarked or disembarked from
the bus are safe from traffic.”
 Place the transmission in gear. Release the parking
brake.
 Check traffic using the mirrors, activate the left turn
signal and when it is safe, pull back into the lane of
traffic. Cancel the turn signal, check traffic again
and accelerate smoothly to the speed of traffic and
proceed to the next stop.
UNLOADING PROCEDURES
Unloading students poses additional problems
from those encountered when loading.
Perform a safe stop at the designated unloading
area as described in section 5.2. This would entail
the slowing of the vehicle, the use of the turn signal and the activation of the amber lights of the 8way warning light system at the proper distance
from the stop.
 Conduct constant checks of the traffic scanning and
using all the mirrors.
 You are responsible for the safety of all students
crossing the roadway regardless of the grade level
of the students.
 Give the motoring public a chance to react by activating the red lights of the 8-way warning light system before you open the door all the way. Students
should stay seated until the door opens. Do not allow students to get off the school bus until all traffic
has stopped.
 It is an excellent idea to count the number of students unloading to verify that they have all cleared
the area of the bus.
 If students must cross the road, instruct them to
walk approximately 10 feet to the front of the bus.
 Check traffic in all directions before allowing students to cross a roadway.
 While performing this operation, remember you are
not a traffic officer and have no rights other than
those of a regular motorist. Do not signal any motorist to do anything. Should a driver of a motor vehicle violate the stop arm law, follow your district’s
procedure for reporting the violation.
 When it is safe to cross the road, establish eye contact with the student(s) and give the pre-arranged
signal for crossing. The signal should be clear
enough so motorists would not mistake it as a signal for them to proceed. One suggested procedure
would be to point to the student and then point the
finger in the direction of the crossing.
 Check all mirrors again. Make sure no students are
around or returning to the bus.
 If you cannot account for a student outside the bus,
secure the bus, take the key and check around and
underneath the bus.
 When students have safely crossed the road and/or
cleared the unloading zone and all students are accounted for, prepare to leave. Cancel the red lights
of the 8-way warning light system and stop arm by
closing the door.
Section 5 – School Buses
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 “The driver of a school bus that has stopped shall
allow time for any vehicles that have stopped behind the school bus to pass the school bus, if such
passing is legally permissible where the school bus
is stopped, after the visual signal lights, if any, are
no longer being displayed or actuated and after all
children who have embarked or disembarked from
the bus are safe from traffic.”
 Place the transmission in gear. Release the parking
brake.
Activate the left turn signal and check traffic in all
directions using all the outside mirrors. When safe,
accelerate smoothly into the flow of traffic and continue to the next stop.
 If you cannot account for a student outside the bus
and the bus is secure, check around and underneath the bus.
 When all students are accounted for, prepare to
leave by:
 Closing the door, which would cancel the red
lights of the 8-way warning light system, if activated.
 Fastening the driver safety belt.
 Starting the engine.
 Engaging the transmission.
 Releasing the parking brake.
 Turning on the left turn signal.
UNLOADING PROCEDURES AT SCHOOL
 Checking all the mirrors again.
Local laws and regulations regarding unloading
students at schools, particularly in situations where
such activities take place in the school parking lot
or other location that is off the traveled roadway,
are often different than unloading along the school
bus route. It is important that the school bus driver
understands and obeys state and local laws and
regulations. When unloading students on school
grounds, the stops should be situated so students
get off the vehicle on the curbside of the road and
do not have to cross in front of traffic. Use of the 8way warning light system may be exempted at a
designated, marked and supervised school unloading zone. The following procedures are meant to
be general guidelines.
 Allowing congested traffic to disperse.
When unloading at the school you should follow
these procedures:
 Perform a safe stop at a designated unloading area
as described in subsection 5.2.
SPECIAL DANGERS OF LOADING AND
UNLOADING
Dropped or Forgotten Objects. Always focus on
students as they approach the bus and watch for
any who disappear from sight.
Students may drop an object near the bus during
loading and unloading. Stopping to pick up the object or returning to pick up the object may cause
the student to disappear from the driver’s sight at a
very dangerous moment.
Students should be told to leave any dropped object and move to a point of safety out of the danger
zones and attempt to get the driver’s attention to
retrieve the object.
 Have the students remain seated until told to exit.
Handrail Hang-ups. Students have been injured
or killed when clothing, accessories, or even parts
of their body get caught in the handrail or door as
they exited the bus. You should closely observe all
students exiting the bus to confirm that they are in
a safe location prior to moving the bus.
 Position yourself to supervise unloading as required
or recommended by your state or local regulations.
POST-TRIP INSPECTION
 Secure the bus by turning off the ignition switch and
by removing the key if you are leaving the driver’s
area.
 Have students exit in an orderly fashion.
 Observe students as they step from the bus to see
that all move promptly away from the unloading
area.
 Walk through the bus and check for hiding/sleeping
students and items left by students.
 Check all mirrors. Make certain no students are
returning to the bus.
When your route or school activity trip is finished,
you should conduct a post-trip inspection of the
bus.
You should walk through the bus and around the
bus looking for the following:
 Articles left on the bus.
 Sleeping students.
Section 5 – School Buses
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Open windows and doors.
 Mechanical/operational problems with the bus, with
special attention to items that are unique to school
buses—mirror systems, flashing warning lamps and
stop signal arms.
may be safer to remain on the bus and not come in
contact with the material.
Emergency Evacuation Drills
 Damage or vandalism.
EVACUATION PROCEDURES
Any problems or special situations should be reported immediately to your supervisor or school
authorities.
Planning for emergencies and knowing what to do
at the time of an emergency will prevent panic and
confusion. When a large number of students are
moving rapidly to evacuate a bus, there is always
the possibility of panic and injury. The safety of the
students is to be given first priority. To repeat what
was stated earlier, in the majority of emergency
situations, the bus is the safest place for the students unless extenuating circumstances warrant
evacuation from the bus. The following are examples of serious types of emergencies that may require emergency evacuation. In most cases, the
front door evacuation is the safest.
5.3 – Emergency Exit and Evacuation
An emergency situation can happen to anyone,
anytime, anywhere. It could be a crash, a stalled
school bus on a railroad-highway crossing or in a
high-speed intersection, an electrical fire in the
engine compartment, a medical emergency to a
student on the school bus, etc. Knowing what to do
in an emergency—before, during and after an
evacuation—can mean the difference between life
and death.
PLANNING FOR EMERGENCIES
The first and most important consideration is for
you to recognize the hazard. If time permits, school
bus drivers should contact their dispatcher to explain the situation before making a decision to
evacuate the school bus.
As a general rule, student safety and control is
best maintained by keeping students on the bus
during an emergency and/or impending crisis situation, if so doing does not expose them to unnecessary risk or injury. Remember, the decision to
evacuate the bus must be a timely one.
A decision to evacuate should include consideration of the following conditions:
 Is there a fire or danger of fire?
 Is there a smell of raw or leaking fuel?
 Is there a chance the bus could be hit by other vehicles?
 Is the bus in the path of a sighted tornado or rising
waters?
 Are there downed power lines?
Under no circumstances should any student move
another student who is injured without the permission of the bus driver or emergency response personnel attending the accident.
 Front end accidents: determine which of the exits
may be used. Check for any serious injuries. Look
for fire.
 Rear end accidents: follow the same procedures as
for a front-end accident. Do not use the rear exit.
Look for fire.
 Broadside accidents: determine which exit may be
used. Follow the same procedures as for front/rear
accidents.
 Rollover accidents: remain as calm as possible; use
rear exit, roof hatches if available and windows
along top if they are free of broken glass. If fire does
not exist and the bus is not lying on the front door
side, this exit may also be used. Follow the steps
outlined for front/rear end evacuation.
 Fire: follow the evacuation procedures outlined for
rear end and front-end accidents. Use the exit furthest from the fire. Above all, do not panic. Many injuries are caused by panic rather than by fire itself.
This can be avoided if everyone stays calm.
Stalling:
 Would moving students complicate injuries such as
neck and back injuries and fractures?
 Railroad Crossing. Use front end or rear end accident evacuation procedures. Stay clear of all
traffic and keep students in a group. DO NOT reenter the bus. Have students move away from
the tracks but at the same time, in the direction of
an oncoming train.
 Is there a hazardous spill involved? Sometimes, it
 Blizzard (zero visibility). Remember, it is warmer
 Would removing students expose them to speeding
traffic, severe weather, or dangerous environment?
Section 5 – School Buses
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
inside than out. If evacuation is necessary, leave
the bus in a group. Remain calm. Do not panic.
 Flood Waters. Leave the bus in a group. Move to
higher ground. Remain calm and do not panic.
Some tips to determine a safe waiting area:
tance needed.
 Dangle the radio microphone or telephone out of
the driver’s window for later use, if operable.
 If no radio or if radio is inoperable, dispatch a passing motorist or area resident to call for help. As a
last resort, assign two older, responsible students to
go for help.
 A safe waiting area will be at least 100 feet or as far
as safely possible, off the road in the direction of
oncoming traffic. This will keep students from being
hit by debris if another vehicle collides with the bus.
 Order the evacuation.
 Lead students upwind of the bus if fire is present.
 Remind the students to leave all belongings behind
so their hands are free to help others.
 Lead students as far away from railroad tracks as
safely possible and in the direction of an oncoming
train.
 If the bus is in the direct path of a sighted tornado
and evacuation is ordered, escort students to a
nearby ditch or culvert if shelter in a building is not
readily available and direct them to lie face down,
hands covering their head. They should be far
enough away so the bus cannot topple on them.
Avoid areas that are subject to flash floods.
General Procedures for Evacuations
Determine if evacuation is in the best interest of
safety.
Determine the best type of evacuation:
 Remind the students to remain calm.
 Evacuate students from the bus. Do not move a
student you believe may have suffered a neck or
spinal injury unless his or her life is in immediate
danger. Special procedures must be used to
move neck and spinal injury victims to prevent
further injury.
 Direct a student assistant to lead students to the
nearest safe place.
 Walk through the bus to ensure no students remain
on the bus. Retrieve emergency equipment.
 Join the waiting students. Account for all the students and check for their safety.
 Protect the scene. Set out emergency warning devices as necessary and appropriate.
 Prepare information for emergency responders.
 Front, rear or side door evacuation or some combination of doors.
 Roof or window evacuation.
 Secure the bus by:
 In Colorado, emergency evacuation drills shall be
conducted a least twice during each school year.
 Setting the park brake.
Emergency Procedures for Specific
Location Evacuations
 Put the transmission in reverse (manual) or in
neutral (automatic).
Front Door Evacuations (Figure 5-5)
 Turn off the engine. Remove the ignition key.
 Turn on 4-way hazard lamps if operable.
 Test the front service door to see if it is working
before making any announcements.
 The driver should stand and face the students.
 Get the student’s attention and speak clearly and
concisely, reminding them to stay calm. Evaluate
the situation: Are there injuries? Which exit is the
best to use?
Figure 5.5
 Determine a safe waiting area.
 If time allows, notify the dispatch office of the
evacuation location, conditions and type of assis-
Announce: “Remain seated. Emergency evacuation, front door.” Tell the students the location of
the safe waiting area that is at least 100 feet or
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
more from the bus and roadway. Again, a safe
place will be at least 100 feet or as far as safely
possible in the direction of oncoming traffic. This
will keep students from being hit by debris if another vehicle collides with the bus. The students
should be supervised if possible.
Evacuate the bus by dismissing the students. The
driver’s position begins at the front of the bus.
Give the first aid kit(s), fire extinguisher and emergency triangles to the first two students exiting the
bus. Do not impede the flow of the students exiting.
Begin at the front of the bus, starting at the right
side; move toward the rear, alternate side-to-side,
row-by-row until you reach the rear of the bus.
Return to the front and check each seat to make
sure all students have evacuated.
Render first aid if necessary.
Account for all students.
Notify the proper authorities and school administrators.
are very important in preventing injuries when exiting the bus from the rear door.
Helpers need to hold a hand open, palm upward
and extended for the student exiting the bus to
place his/her hand on it. The other hand will support the upper part of the arm of the student exiting
the bus to minimize the possibility of the student
falling forward. The students exiting the bus should
sit at the rear door then scoot through the door
onto the ground. The students should then walk to
the designated safe area.
Evacuate the bus by dismissing the students. The
driver’s position begins at the rear of the bus.
Begin at the back row of the bus and continue to
the front; move toward the front, alternate side-toside, row-by-row until you reach the front of the
bus. Give the first aid kit(s), fire extinguisher and
emergency triangles to the last two students when
they are out of the bus.
Return to the rear and check each seat to make
sure all students have evacuated.
Have the helpers “assist” you out the rear of the
bus.
Render first aid as necessary.
Account for all students.
Notify the proper authorities and school administrators as soon as possible.
Front and Rear Door (Combined) Evacuations
(Figure 5-7)
Figure 5.6
Rear Door Evacuations (Figure 5-6)
This location is to be used when the front door
evacuation is impossible or unsafe to use or when
it is imperative to evacuate as quickly as possible
by using all exits.
Follow the procedures outlined in the previous sections for both the front door and rear door evacuations. Refer to the illustrations to determine which
seats go out which exit. The fastest method for a
school bus evacuation is the rear and front door
combination.
Announce, “Remain seated. Emergency evacuation, rear door.” Tell students the location of the
safe waiting area.
Assign two ‘helpers’ to assist students. Have them
‘sit’ on the floor at the emergency door and ‘scoot’
out of the door onto the ground. One helper is positioned so that the emergency door will not swing
against the students. The other helper is positioned on the other side of the door area. Helpers
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
5.4 WARNING SIGNS AND DEVICES
Advance Warning Signs. The round, black-onyellow warning sign is placed ahead of a public
railroad-highway crossing. The advance warning
sign tells you to slow down, look and listen for the
train, and be prepared to stop at the tracks if a train
is coming. See Figure 5-8.
Figure 5.7
Emergency Evacuation Procedures For
Students With Special Needs
The Colorado Department of Education Guidelines
for Transporting Students with Disabilities lists
guidelines for preparing an evacuation plan. Care
should be taken to plan for students with special
needs who are riding on the bus. Know the procedures to be followed in order to safely evacuate
each student. It is advisable to talk to parents or
guardians of the students with disabilities to properly plan for an emergency evacuation. Teachers
and school staff that work with your students can
also help you understand the individual needs of
each child. As a driver, you have the right to this
information on each student, but you must keep it
confidential. Responsible students may be assigned to help a student with special needs get to
a safe waiting area away from the bus, traffic and
other possible dangers.
GET THE STUDENT’S ATTENTION AND SPEAK
CLEARLY AND CONCISELY, REMINDING THEM
TO STAY CALM.
Passive Crossings. This type of crossing does
not have any type of traffic control device. You
must stop at these crossings and follow proper
procedures. However, the decision to proceed
rests entirely in your hands. Passive crossings require you to recognize the crossing, search for any
train using the tracks and decide if there is sufficient clear space to cross safely. Passive crossings have yellow circular advance warning signs,
pavement markings and cross bucks to assist you
in recognizing a crossing.
Figure 5-8
Pavement Markings. Pavement markings mean
the same as the advance warning sign. They consist of an “X” with the letters “”RR” and a nopassing marking on two-lane roads.
There is also a no passing zone sign on two-lane
roads. There may be a white stop line painted on
the pavement before the railroad tracks. The front
of the school bus must remain behind this line
while stopped at the crossing. See Figure 5-9.
Crossbuck Signs. This sign marks the crossing. It
requires you to yield the right-of-way to the train. If
there is no white line painted on the pavement, you
must stop the bus before the cross buck sign.
When the road crosses over more than one set of
tracks, a sign below the cross buck indicates the
Active Crossings. This type of crossing has a
traffic control device installed at the crossing to
regulate traffic at the crossing. These active devices include flashing red lights, with or without
bells and flashing red lights with bells and gates.
Figure 5-9
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
5.5 RAILROAD CROSSING PROCEDURES FOR
SCHOOL BUSES IN COLORADO
The following rules apply to all school/activity
buses whether transporting students or not during
the process of approaching, stopping and crossing
railroad tracks.
To safely cross a railroad grade crossing:
 The 4-way hazard lamps are activated not less than
200 feet from the railroad crossing to alert other
motorists of the pending stop for the crossing. It is
legal in Colorado to use the 4-way hazard lamps
when traveling under 25 MPH or when your vehicle
is creating a hazard.
Figure 5.10
number of tracks. See Figure 5-10.
Flashing Red Light Signals. At many highwayrailroad crossings, the cross buck sign has flashing
red lights and bells. When the lights begin to flash,
stop! A train is approaching. You are required to
yield the right-of-way to the train. If there is more
than one track, make sure all tracks are clear be-
 When stopped, the bus should be as far to the right
of the roadway as possible and should not form two
lanes of traffic unless the highway is marked for
four or more lanes of traffic.
 Stop the bus within 50 feet but not less than 15 feet
from the nearest rail.
 Use a prearranged signal to alert students to the
need for quiet aboard the bus when approaching
railroad tracks. Turn off all noise making equipment
(fans, heater, radio, etc).
 After quietness aboard the stopped bus has been
achieved, open the service door and operator window, listen and look in both directions along the
track(s) for any approaching train(s) and for signals
indicating the approach of a train. Close the service
door.
 If the tracks are clear, the service door has to be
closed prior to placing the bus in motion. The bus
may then proceed in a gear low enough to permit
crossing the tracks without having to manually shift
gears. Cancel the hazard lamps after the bus has
cleared the tracks.
 When two or more tracks are to be crossed, do not
stop a second time unless the bus is completely
clear of the first crossing and has as least fifteen
(15) feet clearance in front and at least fifteen (15)
feet clearance to the rear.
Figure 5.11
fore crossing. See Figure 5-11.
Gates. Many railroad-highway crossings have gates
with flashing red lights and bells. Stop when the
lights begin to flash and before the gate lowers
across the road lane. Remain stopped until the
gates go up and the lights have stopped flashing.
Proceed when it is safe. If the gate stays down after
the train passes, do not drive around the gate. Instead, call your dispatcher. See Figure 5-11.
 Before crossing the tracks, verify that there is
enough space after the tracks for the bus plus fifteen (15) feet if you need to stop after crossing the
tracks.
 In Colorado, school buses are not required to stop
at crossings that are controlled by an ‘Exempt
Crossing’ sign, at crossings controlled by a red,
amber, green traffic control signal when it is in the
green position or when the crossing is controlled by
a police officer or human flag person.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
SPECIAL SITUATIONS
ior. Do not show anger but do show that you mean
business.
Bus stalls or is stuck on tracks. If your bus stalls or
is stuck on the tracks, get everyone out of the bus
and off the tracks immediately. Move everyone far
from the bus at an angle, which is both away from
the tracks and toward the train.
Police Officer or Human Flag Person at the Crossing. If a police officer or human flag person is at the
crossing, obey directions. If there is no police officer or human flag person and you believe the signal is malfunctioning, call your dispatcher to report
the situation and ask for instructions on how to
proceed.
Obstructed View of Tracks. Plan your route so it
provides maximum sight distance at highway-rail
grade crossings. Do not attempt to cross the tracks
unless you can see far enough down the track to
know for certain that no trains are approaching.
Passive crossings are those that do not have any
type of traffic control device. Be especially careful at
“passive” crossings. Even if there are active railroad
signals that indicate the tracks are clear, you must
look and listen to be sure it is safe to proceed.
Containment or Storage Areas. If it will not fit, do
not commit! Know the length of your bus and the
size of the containment area at highway-rail crossings on the school bus route, as well as any crossing you encounter in the course of a school activity
trip. When approaching a crossing with a signal or
stop sign on the opposite side, pay attention to the
amount of room there. Be certain the bus has
enough containment or storage area to completely
clear the railroad tracks on the other side if there is
a need to stop. As a general rule, add 15 feet to
the length of the school bus to determine an acceptable amount of containment or storage area.
5.6 STUDENT MANAGEMENT
Don’t Deal With on Bus Problems When Loading
and Unloading
Tips on handling serious problems:
 Follow your school or district’s procedures for discipline or refusal of rights to ride the bus.
 Stop the bus. Park in a safe location off the road,
perhaps a parking lot or a driveway.
 If a change of seating is needed, request that the
student move to a seat near you.
 Never put a student off the bus except at school or
at his or her designated school bus stop. If you feel
that the offense is serious enough that you cannot
safely drive the bus, call for a school administrator
or the police to come and remove the student. Always follow your state and local school or school
district procedures for requesting assistance.
In order to get students to and from school safely
and on time, you need to be able to concentrate on
the driving task.
Loading and unloading requires all your concentration. Do not take your eyes off what is happening
outside the bus.
If there is a behavior problem on the bus, wait until
the students unloading are safely off the bus and
have moved away. If necessary, pull the bus over
to handle the problem.
5.7 – Special Safety Considerations
STROBE LIGHTS
Some school buses are equipped with roof
mounted white strobe lights. If your bus is so
equipped, the overhead strobe light should be
used when there is limited visibility. This means
that you cannot easily see around you – in front,
behind or beside the school bus. Your visibility
could be only slightly limited or it could be so bad
that you can see nothing at all. In all instances,
understand and obey Colorado and local regulations concerning the use of these lights.
For Colorado school bus drivers, the use of the
strobe lamp will only be permitted in the following
instances: when the bus presents a hazard to other
motorists, such as when loading or unloading students in inclement weather or to enhance visibility of
the bus when barriers inhibit such visibility. The
school bus driver may also use the strobe, in addition to the hazard lamps, to warn other motorists
that the bus is not in motion or is being operated at
a speed of twenty-five miles per hour or less.
 Secure the bus. Take the ignition key with you if
you leave your seat.
DRIVING IN HIGH WINDS
 Stand up and speak respectfully to the offender or
offenders. Speak in a courteous manner with a firm
voice. Remind the offender of the expected behav-
Strong winds affect the handling of the school bus!
The side of a school bus acts like a sail on a sailboat. Strong winds can push the school bus side-
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
ways. Wind can even move the school bus off the
road or, in extreme conditions, tip it over.
If you are caught in strong winds:
 Keep a strong grip on the steering wheel. Try to
anticipate gusts.
 You should slow down to lessen the effect of the
wind, or pull off the roadway and wait.
 Contact your dispatcher to get more information on
how to proceed.
BACKING
Backing a school bus is strongly discouraged. You
should back your bus only when you have no other
safe way to move the vehicle. You should never
back a school bus when students are outside of
the bus. Backing is dangerous and increases your
risk of a collision. If you have no choice and you
must back your bus, follow these procedures:
 Post a lookout. The purpose of the lookout is to
warn you about obstacles, approaching persons,
and other vehicles. The lookout should not give directions on how to back the bus. Before backing on
a roadway or on school grounds, sound the horn or
audible warning device and actuate the hazard
lights.
 Signal for quiet on the bus.
 Constantly check all mirrors and rear windows.
 Back slowly and smoothly.
 If no lookout is available:
 Set the parking brake.
 Turn off the motor and take the keys with you.
 Walk to the rear of the bus to determine whether
the way is clear.
 If you must back-up at a student pick-up point, be
sure to pick up students before backing and watch
for late comers at all times.
 Be sure that all students are in the bus before backing.
 If you must back-up at a student drop-off point, be
sure to unload students after backing.
LIGHT RAIL
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has
added Light Rail Transit to its bus fleet in the Denver Metropolitan area. The Light Rail Vehicles are
six axle, articulated, bi-directional rail vehicles that
are electrically powered using overhead wires. The
light rail tracks in and around the Denver downtown area are points of extreme danger. School
transportation vehicle operators must exercise the
utmost care when approaching, traveling alongside
and crossing light rail tracks.
The RTD light rail tracks are not a distance away
from the road like most railroad tracks. They are, in
most cases, a part of the same street motorists
drive on. The light rail tracks run parallel to traffic,
traveling in the same direction as traffic or against
traffic flow. There are several locations where the
RTD light rail tracks cross major streets.
Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) may approach from either direction since they are bi-directional. Pay attention to all sets of tracks. Even though a train
may have left the crossing on one track, another
train may be approaching on another track. The
Light Rail Vehicles are very quiet and appear to be
traveling slower than they actually are. Each car
weighs 40 tons and is equipped with a bell, an
emergency siren and three bright lights that can be
seen two to three blocks away. Two of the lights
are in the ‘normal’ headlight positions and the third
is in the middle, at the top of the LRV. LRVs have
turn signals to indicate which direction they are
turning.
In most cases, there are no physical barriers such
as curbs or medians separating the vehicle traffic
from the LRV rails. The rails are set in concrete
and are a lighter color than the asphalt on the
street. Certain weather and light conditions will
reduce the visibility of this subtle difference.
In some areas the tracks are close to parking areas. Motorists can become confused as to where
to park.
Warning Signs—A yellow, diamond shaped warning sign with a black symbol of a streetcar indicates the location of the LRV tracks. At intersections or by the tracks, these signs have a black bidirectional arrow below the streetcar symbol. Before intersections, these signs have the term
‘AHEAD’ below the streetcar symbol.
TAIL SWING
A school bus can have up to a three-foot tail swing.
You need to check your mirrors before and during
any turning movements to monitor the tail swing.
Procedures for Light Rail Crossings
Treat light rail crossings as a railroad crossing except for the use of the hazard lights. Use the haz-
Section 5 – School Buses
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
ard lights only when necessary as they are not
recommended or required.
 Instruct students to be quiet when stopping at a
LRV crossing. Turn down the radio.
test, lights (inside and outside), mirrors, emergency
equipment, emergency door(s), wheels, tires, wipers, horn and exhaust system. The district/service
provider shall determine any additional items.
 Flash the brake lights if required to stop.
Post-trip Vehicle Inspections
 Stopping on the tracks is unsafe and unlawful.
When your route or school activity trip is finished,
you should conduct a post trip inspection of the
bus.
 Always observe the ‘Stop Here on Red’ sign and
the white safety stripe (stop line) location.
 Traffic light controlled intersections govern both the
motorist and the LRV. Treat these locations like any
other traffic light controlled intersection. Look and
listen in the appropriate directions for LRVs, motorists and pedestrians before crossing the tracks.
 At stop sign controlled intersections, the Department of Education recommends that a school bus
operator, when stopped, open the driver’s side window and service door. Look and listen in both directions for LRVs, motorists and pedestrians. Close
the service door before crossing the tracks.
 Never cross the light rail tracks until the entire vehicle’s length can safely clear the tracks.
 Never back across the light rail tracks.
The Department of Education recommends that
school transportation operators do not park their
vehicles near a light rail track or crossing. When
parking, always consider the safest loading/unloading position for school students.
5.8 VEHICLE INSPECTIONS
Pre-trip Vehicle Inspections
The driver must perform a daily pre trip inspection
to determine if their vehicle is in safe, good working
order. Procedures for the pre trip inspection may
vary according to the type of vehicle being inspected and according to individual district procedure. The pre trip inspection must be documented
on a district form. The documentation should include the date, vehicle ID, items inspected, defects
reported and the signature of the person performing the inspection. The following is an example of
component checks and tests to determine if your
vehicle is safe to operate.
A post trip inspection can detect problems that
have occurred while on the route. Individual school
districts will establish their own procedure. As with
the pre trip, the post trip inspection must be documented.
PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
Preventative maintenance is the regularly scheduled care of a vehicle that will guarantee the dependability and maximum life of the various components. It is a carefully organized system of
inspections made at regular mileage (not to exceed
4,000 miles) or time intervals, combined with immediate attention to all reported defects. These
inspections are made up of a series of check and
balance procedures combined with the process of
cleaning, tightening, lubricating and adjusting
components and systems.
The driver has a responsibility in preventative
maintenance. You are on the road with the school
transportation vehicle for a number of hours each
day and are in a position to observe its performance under all conditions. Learn to recognize defects and immediately report the symptoms to the
vehicle maintenance department. Do not attempt to
diagnose the problem. Report anything unusual
that you hear, see, smell or feel. Remember, defects cannot be repaired if they are not reported.
Regardless of the engineering skill or workmanship
incorporated in a school bus, it cannot continue to
deliver maximum safety, economy, and dependability
unless it is properly maintained. If you do not report a
problem, it cannot be fixed. The driver plays a major
role in safeguarding the students they carry and prolonging the life of the vehicle by conducting thorough
daily inspections. These inspections can aid technicians in locating and fixing vehicle problems.
Each school transportation vehicle shall have a daily
pre trip inspection performed and documented by
the school transportation vehicle operator or the
district/service provider authorized transportation
employee prior to placing the vehicle in service. The
minimum requirements for a school bus pre trip inspection shall include: service brake test, park brake
Section 5 – School Buses
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 5
Test Your Knowledge
1. Define the danger zone. How far does the
danger zone extend around the bus?
2. What should you be able to see if the outside
flat mirrors are adjusted properly? The outside
convex mirrors? The crossover mirrors?
3. You are loading students along the route.
When should you activate the amber lights of
your 8-way warning light system?
4. You are unloading students along your route.
Where should students walk to after exiting the
bus?
5. After unloading at school, why should you walk
through the bus?
6. Why should students stand in front of the bus
before they cross the roadway?
7. Give some examples of situations that may require an evacuation of the bus.
8. How far from the nearest rail should you stop
at a rail grade crossing?
9. What is a passive rail grade crossing? Why
should you be extra cautious at this type of
crossing?
10. How should you use your brakes if your vehicle is equipped with antilock (ABS) brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you cannot
answer them all, reread Section 5.
Section 5 – School Buses
Page 5 - 14
CDL Driver’s Handbook
AIR COMPRESSOR GOVERNOR
Section 6
The governor controls when the air compressor will
pump air into the air storage tanks. When the air
tank pressure rises to the "cut-out" level (around
125 pounds per-square-inch or "PSI"), the governor
stops the compressor from pumping air. When the
tank pressure falls to the "cut-in" pressure (around
100 PSI), the governor allows the compressor to
start pumping again.
AIR BRAKES
This Section Covers




Air Brake System Parts
Dual Air Brake Systems
Inspecting Air Brakes
Using Air Brakes
AIR STORAGE TANKS
This section tells you about air brakes. If you want
to drive a truck or bus with air brakes, or pull a trailer
with air brakes, you need to read this section. If you
want to pull a trailer with air brakes, you also need
to read Section 7, Combination Vehicles.
Air brakes use compressed air to make the brakes
work. Air brakes are a good and safe way of stopping large and heavy vehicles, but the brakes must
be well maintained and used properly.
Air brakes are one braking system with three different controls: service brake, parking brake, and
emergency brake.
 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.
Air storage tanks are used to hold compressed air.
The number and size of air tanks varies among
vehicles. The tanks will hold enough air to allow
the brakes to be used several times, even if the
compressor stops working.
AIR TANK DRAINS
Compressed air usually has some water and some
compressor oil in it, which is bad for the air brake
system. For example, the water can freeze in cold
weather and cause brake failure. The water and oil
tend to collect in the bottom of the air tank. Be sure
that you drain the air tanks completely. Each air
tank is equipped with a drain valve in the bottom.
There are two types:
 Manually operated by turning a quarter turn or by
pulling a cable. You must drain the tanks yourself at
the end of each day of driving. See Figure 6.1.
 The emergency brake system uses parts of the
service and parking brake systems to stop the vehicle in a brake system failure.
The parts of these systems are discussed in
greater detail below.
6.1 – The Parts of an Air Brake System
There are many parts to an air brake system. You
should know about the parts discussed here.
AIR COMPRESSOR
The air compressor pumps air into the air storage
tanks (reservoirs). The air compressor is connected to the engine through gears or a v-belt. The
compressor may be air cooled or may be cooled by
the engine cooling system. It may have its own oil
supply or be lubricated by engine oil. If the compressor has its own oil supply, check the oil level
before driving.
Figure 6.1
 Automatic: the water and oil are automatically expelled. These tanks may be equipped for manual
draining as well.
Automatic air tanks are available with electric heating devices. These help prevent freezing of the
automatic drain in cold weather.
Section 6 – Air Brakes
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
ALCOHOL EVAPORATOR
Some air brake systems have an alcohol evaporator to put alcohol into the air system. This helps to
reduce the risk of ice in air brake valves and other
parts during cold weather. Ice inside the system
can make the brakes stop working.
(so called because it is shaped like the letter "S").
The s-cam forces the brake shoes away from one
another and presses them against the inside of the
brake drum. When you release the brake pedal,
the s-cam rotates back and a spring pulls the brake
shoes away from the drum, letting the wheels roll
Check the alcohol container and fill up as necessary, every day during cold weather. Daily air tank
drainage is still needed to get rid of water and oil.
(Unless the system has automatic drain valves.)
SAFETY VALVE
A safety relief valve is installed in the first tank the
air compressor pumps air to. The safety valve protects the tank and the rest of the system from too
much pressure. The valve is usually set to open at
150 PSI. If the safety valve releases air, something
is wrong. Have the valve fixed by a mechanic.
THE BRAKE PEDAL
You put on the brakes by pushing down the brake
pedal. (It is also called the foot valve, service brake
or treadle valve.) Pushing the pedal down harder
applies more air pressure. Letting up on the brake
pedal reduces the air pressure and releases the
brakes. Releasing the brakes lets some compressed air go out of the system, so the air pressure in the tanks is reduced. It must be made up by
the air compressor. Pressing and releasing the
pedal unnecessarily can let air out faster than the
compressor can replace it. If the pressure gets too
low, the brakes will not work.
FOUNDATION BRAKES
Foundation brakes are used at each wheel. The
most common type is the s-cam drum brake. The
parts of the brake are discussed below.
Brake Drums, Shoes, and Linings. Brake drums
are located on each end of the vehicle's axles. The
wheels are bolted to the drums. The braking
mechanism is inside the drum. To stop, the brake
shoes and linings are pushed against the inside of
the drum. This causes friction, which slows the
vehicle (and creates heat). The heat a drum can
take without damage depends on how hard and
how long the brakes are used. Too much heat can
make the brakes stop working.
S-cam Brakes. When you push the brake pedal,
air is let into each brake chamber. Air pressure
pushes the rod out, moving the slack adjuster, thus
twisting the brake camshaft. This turns the s-cam
Figure 6.2
freely again. See Figure 6.2.
Wedge Brakes. In this type of brake, the brake
chamber push rod pushes a wedge directly between the ends of two brake shoes. This shoves
them apart and against the inside of the brake
drum. Wedge brakes may have a single brake
chamber, or two brake chambers, pushing wedges
in at both ends of the brake shoes. Wedge type
brakes may be self-adjusting or may require manual adjustment.
Disc Brakes. In air-operated disc brakes, air pressure acts on a brake chamber and slack adjuster,
like s-cam brakes. But instead of the s-cam, a
"power screw" is used. The pressure of the brake
chamber on the slack adjuster turns the power
screw. The power screw clamps the disc or rotor
between the brake lining pads of a caliper, similar
to a large c-clamp.
Wedge brakes and disc brakes are less common
than s-cam brakes.
SUPPLY PRESSURE GAUGES
All vehicles with air brakes have a pressure gauge
connected to the air tank. If the vehicle has a dual
air brake system, there will be a gauge for each
half of the system. (Or a single gauge with two
Section 6 – Air Brakes
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
needles.) Dual systems will be discussed later.
These gauges tell you how much pressure is in the
air tanks.
APPLICATION PRESSURE GAUGE
This gauge shows how much air pressure you are
applying to the brakes. (This gauge is not on all
vehicles.) Increasing application pressure to hold
the same speed means the brakes are fading. You
should slow down and use a lower gear. The need
for increased pressure can also be caused by
brakes that are out of adjustment, air leaks, or mechanical problems.
LOW AIR PRESSURE WARNING
A low air pressure warning signal is required on
vehicles with air brakes. A warning signal you can
see must come on before the air pressure in the
tanks falls below 60 PSI. (or one half the compressor governor cutout pressure on older vehicles.)
The warning is usually a red light. A buzzer may
also come on.
Another type of warning is the "wig wag." This device drops a mechanical arm into your view when
the pressure in the system drops below 60 PSI. An
automatic wig wag will rise out of your view when
the pressure in the system goes above 60 PSI. The
manual reset type must be placed in the "out of
view" position manually. It will not stay in place
until the pressure in the system is above 60 PSI.
On large buses it is common for the low pressure
warning devices to signal at 80-85 PSI.
STOP LIGHT SWITCH
Drivers behind you must be warned when you put
your brakes on. The air brake system does this
with an electric switch that works by air pressure.
The switch turns on the brake lights when you put
on the air brakes.
FRONT BRAKE LIMITING VALVE
Some older vehicles (made before 1975) have a
front brake limiting valve and a control in the cab.
The control is usually marked "normal" and "slippery." When you put the control in the "slippery"
position, the limiting valve cuts the "normal" air
pressure to the front brakes by half. Limiting valves
were used to reduce the chance of the front
wheels skidding on slippery surfaces. However,
they actually reduce the stopping power of the vehicle. Front wheel braking is good under all conditions. Tests have shown front wheel skids from
braking are not likely even on ice. Make sure the
control is in the "normal" position to have normal
stopping power.
Many vehicles have automatic front wheel limiting
valves. They reduce the air to the front brakes except when the brakes are put on very hard (60 PSI
or more application pressure). These valves cannot be controlled by the driver.
SPRING BRAKES
All trucks, truck tractors, and buses must be
equipped with emergency brakes and parking
brakes. They must be held on by mechanical force
(because air pressure can eventually leak away).
Spring brakes are usually used to meet these
needs. When driving, powerful springs are held
back by air pressure. If the air pressure is removed, the springs put on the brakes. A parking
brake control in the cab allows the driver to let the
air out of the spring brakes. This lets the springs
put the brakes on. A leak in the air brake system,
which causes all the air to be lost, will also cause
the springs to put on the brakes.
Tractor and straight truck spring brakes will come
fully on when air pressure drops to a range of 20 to
45 PSI (typically 20 to 30 PSI). Do not wait for the
brakes to come on automatically. When the low air
pressure warning light and buzzer first come on,
bring the vehicle to a safe stop right away, while
you can still control the brakes.
The braking power of spring brakes depends on
the brakes being in adjustment. If the brakes are
not adjusted properly, neither the regular brakes
nor the emergency/parking brakes will work properly.
PARKING BRAKE CONTROLS
In newer vehicles with air brakes, you put on the
parking brakes using a diamond-shaped, yellow,
push-pull control knob. You pull the knob out to put
the parking brakes (spring brakes) on, and push it
in to release them. On older vehicles, the parking
brakes may be controlled by a lever. Use the parking brakes whenever you park.
Caution. Never push the brake pedal down when
the spring brakes are on. If you do, the brakes
could be damaged by the combined forces of the
springs and the air pressure. Many brake systems
are designed so this will not happen. But not all
systems are set up that way, and those that are
may not always work. It is better to develop the
habit of not pushing the brake pedal down when
the spring brakes are on.
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Modulating Control Valves. In some vehicles a
control handle on the dash board may be used to
apply the spring brakes gradually. This is called a
modulating valve. It is spring-loaded so you have a
feel for the braking action. The more you move the
control lever, the harder the spring brakes come
on. They work this way so you can control the
spring brakes if the service brakes fail. When parking a vehicle with a modulating control valve, move
the lever as far as it will go and hold it in place with
the locking device.
Dual Parking Control Valves. When main air
pressure is lost, the spring brakes come on. Some
vehicles, such as buses, have a separate air tank
which can be used to release the spring brakes.
This is so you can move the vehicle in an emergency. One of the valves is a push-pull type and is
used to put on the spring brakes for parking. The
other valve is spring loaded in the "out" position.
When you push the control in, air from the separate air tank releases the spring brakes so you can
move. When you release the button, the spring
brakes come on again. There is only enough air in
the separate tank to do this a few times. Therefore,
plan carefully when moving. Otherwise, you may
be stopped in a dangerous location when the
separate air supply runs out. See Figure 6.3.
ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS (ABS)
Truck tractors with air brakes built on or after
March 1, 1997, and other air brakes vehicles,
(trucks, buses, trailers, and converter dollies) built
on or after March 1, 1998, are required to be
equipped with antilock brakes. Many commercial
vehicles built before these dates have been voluntarily equipped with ABS. Check the certification
label for the date of manufacture to determine if
your vehicle is equipped with ABS. ABS is a computerized system that keeps your wheels from
locking up during hard brake applications.
Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps
to tell you if something isn’t working.
Tractors, trucks, and buses will have yellow ABS
malfunction lamps on the instrument panel.
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on
the left side, either on the front or rear corner. Dollies manufactured on or after March 1, 1998, are
required to have a lamp on the left side.
On newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on
at start-up for a bulb check, and then goes out
quickly. On older systems, the lamp could stay on
until you are driving over five MPH.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check, or goes
on once you are under way, you may have lost
ABS control at one or more wheels.
In the case of towed units manufactured before it
was required by the Department of Transportation,
it may be difficult to tell if the unit is equipped with
ABS. Look under the vehicle for the electronic control unit (ECU) and wheel speed sensor wires coming from the back of the brakes.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does
not decrease or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when wheels are about
to lock up. ABS does not necessarily shorten your
stopping distance.
Subsection 6.1
Test Your Knowledge
Figure 6.3
1. Why must air tanks be drained?
2. What is a supply pressure gauge used for?
3. All vehicles with air brakes must have a low air
pressure warning signal. True or False?
4. What are spring brakes?
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 4
CDL Driver’s Handbook
5. Front wheel brakes are good under all conditions. True or False?
6. How do you know if your vehicle is equipped
with antilock brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsection 6.1.
6.2 – Dual Air Brake
Most heavy-duty vehicles use dual air brake systems for safety. A dual air brake system has two
separate air brake systems that use a single set of
brake controls. Each system has its own air tanks,
hoses, lines, etc. One system typically operates the
regular brakes on the rear axle or axles. The other
system operates the regular brakes on the front axle
(and possibly one rear axle). Both systems supply
air to the trailer (if there is one). The first system is
called the "primary" system. The other is called the
"secondary" system. See Figure 6.4.
Before driving a vehicle with a dual air system, allow time for the air compressor to build up a minimum of 100 PSI pressure in both the primary and
secondary systems. Watch the primary and secondary air pressure gauges (or needles, if the system
has two needles in one gauge). Pay attention to
the low air pressure warning light and buzzer. The
warning light and buzzer should shut off when air
pressure in both systems rises to a value set by
the manufacturer. This value must be greater than
60 PSI.
The warning light and buzzer should come on before the air pressure drops below 60 PSI in either
system. If this happens while driving, you should
stop right away and safely park the vehicle. If one
air system is very low on pressure, either the front
or the rear brakes will not be operating fully. This
means it will take you longer to stop. Bring the vehicle to a safe stop, and have the air brakes system fixed.
6.3 – Inspecting Air Brake Systems
You should use the basic seven-step inspection
procedure described in Section 2 to inspect your
vehicle. There are more things to inspect on a vehicle with air brakes than one without them. These
things are discussed below, in the order they fit
into the seven-step method.
DURING STEP 2 ENGINE COMPARTMENT
Figure 6.4
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 5
CDL Driver’s Handbook
CHECKS
vice Manual should be consulted prior to troubleshooting a brake adjustment problem.)
Check Air Compressor Drive Belt (if compressor is
belt-driven). If the air compressor is belt-driven,
check the condition and tightness of the belt. It
should be in good condition.
DURING STEP 5 WALK AROUND INSPECTION
Check Slack Adjusters on S-cam Brakes. Park on
level ground and chock the wheels to prevent the
vehicle from moving. Turn off the parking brakes
so you can move the slack adjusters. Use gloves
and pull hard on each slack adjuster that you can
reach. If a slack adjuster moves more than about
one inch where the push rod attaches to it, it
probably needs adjustment. Adjust it or have it adjusted. Vehicles with too much brake slack can be
very hard to stop. Out-of-adjustment brakes are the
most common problem found in roadside inspections. Be safe. Check the slack adjusters.
All vehicles built since 1991 have automatic slack
adjustors. Even though automatic slack adjustors
adjust themselves during full brake applications,
they must be checked.
Automatic adjusters should not have to be manually adjusted except when performing maintenance
on the brakes and during installation of the slack
adjusters. In a vehicle equipped with automatic
adjusters, when the pushrod stroke exceeds the
legal brake adjustment limit, it is an indication that
a mechanical problem exists in the adjuster itself, a
problem with the related foundation brake components, or that the adjuster was improperly installed.
The manual adjustment of an automatic adjuster to
bring a brake pushrod stroke within legal limits is
generally masking a mechanical problem and is
not fixing it. Further, routine adjustment of most
automatic adjusters will likely result in premature
wear of the adjuster itself. It is recommended that
when brakes equipped with automatic adjusters
are found to be out of adjustment, the driver should
take the vehicle to a repair facility as soon as possible to have the problem corrected.
The manual adjustment of an automatic adjuster
should only be used as a temporary measure to
correct the adjustment in an emergency situation
as it is likely the brake will soon be back out of adjustment since this procedure usually does not fix
the underlying adjustment problem.
(Note: Automatic slack adjusters are made by different manufacturers and do not all operate the
same. Therefore, the specific manufacturer’s Ser-
Check Brake Drums (or Discs), Linings, and
Hoses. Brake drums (or discs) must not have
cracks longer than one half the width of the friction
area. Linings (friction material) must not be loose
or soaked with oil or grease. They must not be
dangerously thin. Mechanical parts must be in
place, not broken or missing. Check the air hoses
connected to the brake chambers to make sure
they aren't cut or worn due to rubbing.
STEP 7 FINAL AIR BRAKE CHECK
Do the following checks instead of the hydraulic
brake check shown in Section 2, Step 7: Check
Brake System.
Test Low Pressure Warning Signal. Shut the engine off when you have enough air pressure so
that the low pressure warning signal is not on. Turn
the electrical power on and step on and off the
brake pedal to reduce air tank pressure. The low
air pressure warning signal must come on at approximately 60 PSI (or tank with the lowest air
pressure, in dual air systems). See Figure 6.5.
If the warning signal doesn't work, you could lose
air pressure and you would not know it. This could
cause sudden emergency braking in a singlecircuit air system. In dual systems the stopping
distance will be increased. Only limited braking can
be done before the spring brakes come on.
Check Spring Brakes Come On Automatically.
Continue to fan off the air pressure by stepping on
and off the brake pedal to reduce tank pressure.
The tractor protection valve and parking brake
valve should set (pop out) on a tractor-trailer combination vehicle and the parking brake valve
should set (pop out) on other combination and single vehicle types when the air pressure falls to approximately (20–40 PSI). This will cause the spring
brakes to come on.
Check Rate of Air Pressure Buildup. When the
engine is at operating RPMS (check the manufacturer’s specification), the pressure should build
from 85 to 100 PSI within 45 seconds in dual air
systems. (If the vehicle has larger than minimum
air tanks, the buildup time can be longer and still
be safe. Check the manufacturer's specifications.
In single air systems (pre-1975), typical requirements are pressure buildup from 50 to 90 PSI
within 3 minutes with the engine at an idle speed of
600-900 RPMS.
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 6
CDL Driver’s Handbook
(governor cut-out) the air compressor between approximately 100 PSI – 125 PSI. The air pressure
shown by your gauge(s) will stop rising. With the
engine idling, step on and off the brake to reduce
the air tank pressure.
If the air governor does not work as described
above, it may need to be fixed. A governor that
does not work properly may not keep enough air
pressure for safe driving.
Test Parking Brake. Stop the vehicle, put the
parking brake on, and gently pull against it in a low
gear to test that the parking brake will hold.
Test Service Brakes. Wait for normal air pressure,
release the parking brake, move the vehicle forward slowly (about 5 MPH), and apply the brakes
firmly using the brake pedal. Note any vehicle
"pulling" to one side, unusual feel, or delayed stopping action.
This test will indicate problems, which otherwise
you would not know about until you needed the
brakes on the road.
Subsections 6.2 and 6.3
Test Your Knowledge
Figure 6.5
If air pressure does not build up fast enough, your
pressure may drop too low during driving, requiring
an emergency stop. Do not drive until you get the
problem fixed.
Test Air Leakage Rate. With a fully charged air
system (typically 125 PSI), turn off the engine, release the parking brake, and time the air pressure
drop. The loss rate should be less than two PSI in
one minute for single vehicles and less than three
PSI in one minute for combination vehicles. Then
apply 90 PSI or more to the brake pedal. After the
initial pressure drop, if the air pressure falls more
than three PSI in one minute for single vehicles
(more than four PSI for combination vehicles), the
air loss rate is too much. Check for air leaks and fix
before driving the vehicle. Otherwise, you could
lose your brakes while driving.
Check Air Compressor Governor Cut-in and
Cut-out Pressures. Pumping (cut-in) by the air
compressor should start at about 100 PSI. (Check
manufacturer's specifications.) Run the engine at a
fast idle. The air governor should stop pumping
1.
2.
3.
4.
What is a dual air brake system?
What are the slack adjusters?
How can you check slack adjusters?
How can you test the low pressure warning
signal?
5. How can you check that the spring brakes
come on automatically?
6. What are the maximum leakage rates?
These questions may be on your test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsections 6.2 and 6.3.
6.4 – Using Air Brakes
NORMAL STOPS
Push the brake pedal down. Control the pressure
so the vehicle comes to a smooth, safe stop. If you
have a manual transmission, do not push the
clutch in until the engine RPM is down close to
idle. When stopped, select a starting gear.
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 7
CDL Driver’s Handbook
BRAKING WITH ANTILOCK BRAKES
EMERGENCY STOPS
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a
vehicle without ABS, your wheels may lock up.
When your steering wheels lock up, you lose steering control. When your other wheels lock up, you
may skid, jackknife, or even spin the vehicle.
If somebody suddenly pulls out in front of you, your
natural response is to hit the brakes. This is a good
response if there is enough distance to stop, and
you use the brakes correctly.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up. The computer
senses impending lockup, reduces the braking
pressure to a safe level, and you maintain control.
You may or may not be able to stop faster with
ABS, but you should be able to steer around an
obstacle while braking, and avoid skids caused by
over braking.
Having ABS on only the tractor, only the trailer, or
even on only one axle, still gives you more control
over the vehicle during braking. Brake normally.
When only the tractor has ABS, you should be able
to maintain steering control, and there is less
chance of jackknifing. But, keep your eye on the
trailer and let up on the brakes (if you can safely do
so) if it begins to swing out.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less
likely to swing out, but if you lose steering control
or start a tractor jackknife, let up on the brakes (if
you can safely do so) until you gain control.
When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with
ABS, you should brake as you always have. In
other words:
 Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely
and stay in control.
 Brake the same way, regardless of whether you
have ABS on the tractor, the trailer, or both.
 As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer
and back off the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay
in control.
There is only one exception to this procedure, if
you always drive a straight truck or combination
with working ABS on all axles, in an emergency
stop, you can fully apply the brakes.
Without ABS, you still have normal brake functions.
Drive and brake as you always have.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still
have regular brakes. Drive normally, but get the
system serviced soon.
You should brake in a way that will keep your vehicle in a straight line and allow you to turn if it becomes necessary. You can use the "controlled
braking" method or the "stab braking" method.
Controlled Braking. With this method, apply the
brakes as hard as you can without locking the
wheels. Keep steering wheel movements very small
while doing this. If you need to make a larger steering adjustment or if the wheels lock, release the
brakes. Re-apply the brakes as soon as you can.
 Stab Braking
 Apply your brakes all the way.
 Release brakes when wheels lock up.
 As soon as the wheels start rolling, apply the brakes
fully again. (It can take up to one second for the
wheels to start rolling after you release the brakes. If
you re-apply the brakes before the wheels start rolling, the vehicle will not straighten out.)
STOPPING DISTANCE
Stopping distance was described in Section 2 under "Speed and Stopping Distance." With air
brakes there is an added delay—the time required
for the brakes to work after the brake pedal is
pushed. With hydraulic brakes (used on cars and
light/medium trucks), the brakes work instantly.
However, with air brakes, it takes a little time (one
half second or more) for the air to flow through the
lines to the brakes. Thus, the total stopping distance for vehicles with air brake systems is made
up of four different factors.
Perception Distance + Reaction Distance + Brake
Lag Distance + Effective Braking Distance = Total
Stopping Distance
The air brake lag distance at 55 MPH on dry pavement adds about 32 feet. So at 55 MPH for an average driver under good traction and brake conditions, the total stopping distance is over 450 feet.
See Figure 6.6.
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 8
CDL Driver’s Handbook
mately five MPH below your "safe" speed, release
the brakes. (This application should last for about
three seconds.)
Stopping Distance Chart
How Far
The Rig
Will
Travel in
One
Second
Driver
Reaction
Distance
Vehicle
Braking
Distance
Total
Stopping
Distance
15 MPH
22 ft.
17 ft.
29 ft.
46 ft.
30 MPH
44 ft.
33 ft.
115 ft.
148 ft.
45 MPH
66 ft.
50 ft.
260 ft.
310 ft.
50 MPH
73 ft.
55 ft.
320 ft.
375 ft.
55 MPH
81 ft.
61 ft.
390 ft.
451 ft.
Miles
Per
Hour
Figure 6.6
 When your speed has increased to your "safe"
speed, repeat steps 1 and 2.
For example, if your "safe" speed is 40 MPH, you
would not apply the brakes until your speed
reaches 40 MPH. You now apply the brakes hard
enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 MPH
and then release the brakes. Repeat this as often
as necessary until you have reached the end of the
downgrade.
LOW AIR PRESSURE
BRAKE FADING OR FAILURE
Brakes are designed so brake shoes or pads rub
against the brake drum or disks to slow the vehicle.
Braking creates heat, but brakes are designed to
take a lot of heat. However, brakes can fade or fail
from excessive heat caused by using them too
much and not relying on the engine braking effect.
Excessive use of the service brakes results in
overheating and leads to brake fade. Brake fade
results from excessive heat causing chemical
changes in the brake lining, which reduce friction,
and also causing expansion of the brake drums.
As the overheated drums expand, the brake shoes
and linings have to move farther to contact the
drums, and the force of this contact is reduced.
Continued overuse may increase brake fade until
the vehicle cannot be slowed down or stopped.
Brake fade is also affected by adjustment. To
safely control a vehicle, every brake must do its
share of the work. Brakes out of adjustment will
stop doing their share before those that are in adjustment. The other brakes can then overheat and
fade, and there will not be enough braking available to control the vehicle(s). Brakes can get out of
adjustment quickly, especially when they are hot.
Therefore, check brake adjustment often.
PROPER BRAKING TECHNIQUE
Remember: the use of brakes on a long and/or
steep downgrade is only a supplement to the braking effect of the engine. Once the vehicle is in the
proper low gear, the following is the proper braking
technique:
 Apply the brakes just hard enough to feel a definite
slowdown.
If the low air pressure warning comes on, stop and
safely park your vehicle as soon as possible. There
might be an air leak in the system. Controlled braking is possible only while enough air remains in the
air tanks. The spring brakes will come on when the
air pressure drops into the range of 20 to 45 PSI. A
heavily loaded vehicle will take a long distance to
stop because the spring brakes do not work on all
axles. Lightly loaded vehicles or vehicles on slippery
roads may skid out of control when the spring
brakes come on. It is much safer to stop while there
is enough air in the tanks to use the foot brakes.
PARKING BRAKES
Any time you park use the parking brakes, except
as noted below. Pull the parking brake control
knob out to apply the parking brakes, push it in to
release. The control will be a yellow, diamondshaped knob labeled "parking brakes" on newer
vehicles. On older vehicles, it may be a round blue
knob or some other shape (including a lever that
swings from side to side or up and down).
Do not use the parking brakes if the brakes are
very hot (from just having come down a steep
grade), or if the brakes are very wet in freezing
temperatures. If they are used while they are very
hot, they can be damaged by the heat. If they are
used in freezing temperatures when the brakes are
very wet, they can freeze so the vehicle cannot
move. Use wheel chocks to hold the vehicle. Let
hot brakes cool before using the parking brakes. If
the brakes are wet, use the brakes lightly while
driving in a low gear to heat and dry them.
If your vehicle does not have automatic air tank
drains, drain your air tanks at the end of each
working day to remove moisture and oil. Otherwise, the brakes could fail.
 When your speed has been reduced to approxi-
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 9
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Never leave your vehicle unattended without applying
the parking brakes or chocking the wheels. Your vehicle might roll away and cause injury and damage.
Subsection 6.4
Test Your Knowledge
1. Why should you be in the proper gear before
starting down a hill?
2. What factors can cause brakes to fade or fail?
3. The use of brakes on a long, steep downgrade
is only a supplement to the braking effect of
the engine. True or False?
4. If you are away from your vehicle only a short
time, you do not need to use the parking
brake. True or False?
5. How often should you drain air tanks?
6. How do you brake when you drive a tractortrailer combination with ABS?
7. You still have normal brake functions if your
ABS is not working. True or False?
These questions may be on your test. If you cannot
answer them all, re-read subsection 6.4.
Section 6 – Air Brakes
Page 6 - 10
CDL Driver’s Handbook
STEER GENTLY
Section 7
COMBINATION VEHICLES
This Section Covers





Driving Combinations
Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
Antilock Brake Systems
Coupling and Uncoupling
Inspecting Combinations
This section provides information needed to pass
the written knowledge tests for combination vehicles (tractor-trailer, doubles, triples, straight truck
with trailer). The information is only to give you the
minimum knowledge needed for driving common
combination vehicles. You should also study Section 8 if you need to pass the test for doubles and
triples.
7.1 – Driving Combination Vehicles
Safely
Combination vehicles are usually heavier, longer,
and require more driving skill than single commercial vehicles. This means that drivers of combination vehicles need more knowledge and skill than
drivers of single vehicles. In this section, we talk
about some important safety factors that apply
specifically to combination vehicles.
ROLLOVER RISKS
More than half of truck driver deaths in crashes are
the result of truck rollovers. When more cargo is
piled up in a truck, the "center of gravity" moves
higher up from the road. The truck becomes easier
to turn over. Fully loaded rigs are ten times more
likely to roll over in a crash than empty rigs.
The following two things will help you prevent rollover—keep the cargo as close to the ground as
possible, and drive slowly around turns. Keeping
cargo low is even more important in combination
vehicles than in straight trucks. Also, keep the load
centered on your rig. If the load is to one side, it
will make a trailer lean, a rollover is more likely.
Make sure your cargo is centered and spread out
as much as possible. (Cargo distribution is covered
in Section 3 of this handbook.)
Trucks with trailers have a dangerous "crack-thewhip" effect. When you make a quick lane change,
the crack-the-whip effect can turn the trailer over.
There are many accidents where only the trailer
has overturned.
"Rearward amplification" causes the crack-thewhip effect. Figure 7.1 shows eight types of combination vehicles and the rearward amplification
each has in a quick lane change. Rigs with the
least crack-the-whip effect are shown at the top
and those with the most, at the bottom. Rearward
amplification of 2.0 in the chart means that the rear
trailer is twice as likely to turn over as the tractor.
You can see that triples have a rearward amplification of 3.5. This means you can roll the last trailer
of triples 3.5 times as easily as a five-axle tractor.
Steer gently and smoothly when you are pulling
trailers. If you make a sudden movement with your
steering wheel, your trailer could tip over. Follow
far enough behind other vehicles (at least 1 second for each 10 feet of your vehicle length, plus
another second if going over 40 MPH). Look far
enough down the road to avoid being surprised
and having to make a sudden lane change. At
night, drive slowly enough to see obstacles with
your headlights before it is too late to change lanes
or stop gently. Slow down to a safe speed before
going into a turn.
BRAKE EARLY
Control your speed whether fully loaded or empty.
Large combination vehicles take longer to stop
when they are empty than when they are fully
loaded. When lightly loaded, the very stiff suspension springs and strong brakes give poor traction
and make it very easy to lock up the wheels. Your
trailer can swing out and strike other vehicles. Your
tractor can jackknife very quickly. You also must be
very careful about driving "bobtail" tractors (tractors
without semi trailers). Tests have shown that bobtails can be very hard to stop smoothly. It takes
them longer to stop than a tractor-semi trailer
loaded to maximum gross weight.
In any combination rig, allow lots of following distance and look far ahead, so you can brake early.
Do not be caught by surprise and have to make a
"panic" stop.
Rollovers happen when you turn too fast. Drive slowly
around corners, on ramps, and off ramps. Avoid quick
lane changes, especially when fully loaded.
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Figure 7.1
RAILROAD-HIGHWAY CROSSINGS
crossing using all identifiable landmarks, especially
the DOT number, if posted.
Railroad-highway crossings can also cause problems, particularly when pulling trailers with low underneath clearance.
PREVENT TRAILER SKIDS
These trailers can get stuck on raised crossings:
 Low slung units (lowboy, car carrier, moving van,
possum-belly livestock trailer).
 Single-axle tractor pulling a long trailer with its landing gear set to accommodate a tandem-axle tractor.
If for any reason you get stuck on the tracks, get
out of the vehicle and away from the tracks. Check
signposts or signal housing at the crossing for
emergency notification information. Call 911 or
other emergency number. Give the location of the
When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will
tend to swing around. This is more likely to happen
when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded. This
type of jackknife is often called a "trailer jackknife."
See Figure 7.2.
The procedure for stopping a trailer skid is:
Recognize the Skid. The earliest and best way to
recognize that the trailer has started to skid is by
seeing it in your mirrors. Any time you apply the
brakes hard; check the mirrors to make sure the
trailer is staying where it should be. Once the
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
trailer swings out of your lane, it is very difficult to
prevent a jackknife.
(From R.D. Ervin, R.L. Nisconger, C.C. MacAdam,
and P.S. Fancher, “Influence of size and weigh
variables on the stability and control properties of
heavy trucks, “University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 1983).
Figure 7.3
(truck or tractor) will off-track some, and the rear
wheels of the trailer will off-track even more. If there
is more than one trailer, the rear wheels of the last
trailer will off-track the most. Steer the front end wide
enough around a corner so the rear end does not run
over the curb, pedestrians, etc. However, keep the
rear of your vehicle close to the curb. This will stop
other drivers from passing you on the right. If you
cannot complete your turn without entering another
traffic lane, turn wide as you complete the turn. This
is better than swinging wide to the left before starting
the turn because it will keep other drivers from passing you on the right. See Figure 7.4.
Figure 7.2
Stop Using the Brake. Release the brakes to get
traction back. Do not use the trailer hand brake (if
you have one) to "straighten out the rig." This is the
wrong thing to do since the brakes on the trailer
wheels caused the skid in the first place. Once the
trailer wheels grip the road again, the trailer will
start to follow the tractor and straighten out.
Figure 7.4
TURN WIDE
When a vehicle goes around a corner, the rear
wheels follow a different path than the front wheels.
This is called offtracking or "cheating." Figure 7.3
shows how off tracking causes the path followed by a
tractor to be wider than the rig itself. Longer vehicles
will off-track more. The rear wheels of the power unit
BACKING WITH A TRAILER.
Backing with a Trailer. When backing a car,
straight truck, or bus, you turn the top of the steering wheel in the direction you want to go. When
backing a trailer, you turn the steering wheel in the
opposite direction. Once the trailer starts to turn,
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
you must turn the wheel the other way to follow the
trailer.
turning the top of the steering wheel in the direction of the drift.
Whenever you back up with a trailer, try to position
your vehicle so you can back in a straight line. If
you must back on a curved path, back to the
driver's side so you can see. See Figure 7.5.
Pull Forward. When backing a trailer, make pullups to re-position your vehicle as needed.
Look at Your Path. Look at your line of travel before you begin. Get out and walk around the vehicle. Check your clearance to the sides and overhead, in and near the path of your vehicle.
Subsection 7.1
Test Your Knowledge
Use Mirrors on Both Sides. Check the outside
mirrors on both sides frequently. Get out of the
vehicle and re-inspect your path if you are unsure.
Back Slowly. This will let you make corrections
before you get too far off course.
Correct Drift Immediately. As soon as you see
the trailer getting off the proper path, correct it by
1. What two things are important to prevent rollover?
2. When you turn suddenly while pulling doubles,
which trailer is most likely to turn over?
3. Why should you not use the trailer hand brake
to straighten out a jackknifing trailer?
4. What is off tracking?
5. When you back a trailer, you should position
your vehicle so you can back in a curved path
to the driver’s side. True or False?
6. What type of trailers can get stuck on railroadhighway crossings?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsection 7.1.
7.2 – Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
You should study Section 6: Air Brakes before
reading this. In combination vehicles the braking
system has parts to control the trailer brakes, in
addition to the parts described in Section 6. These
parts are described below.
TRAILER HAND VALVE
The trailer hand valve (also called the trolley valve
or Johnson bar) works the trailer brakes. The trailer
hand valve should be used only to test the trailer
brakes. Do not use it while driving because of the
danger of making the trailer skid. The foot brake
sends air to all of the brakes on the vehicle (including the trailer(s). There is much less danger of
causing a skid or jackknife when using just the foot
brake.
Never use the hand valve when parking because
all the air might leak out unlocking the brakes (in
trailers that don't have spring brakes). Always use
the parking brakes when parked. If the trailer does
not have spring brakes, use wheel chocks to keep
the trailer from moving.
Figure 7.5
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
TRACTOR PROTECTION VALVE
The tractor protection valve keeps air in the tractor
or truck brake system should the trailer break away
or develop a bad leak. The tractor protection valve
is controlled by the "trailer air supply" control valve
in the cab. The control valve allows you to open
and shut the tractor protection valve. The tractor
protection valve will close automatically if air pressure is low (in the range of 20 to 45 PSI). When the
tractor protection valve closes, it stops any air from
going out of the tractor. It also lets the air out of the
trailer emergency line. This causes the trailer
emergency brakes to come on, with possible loss
of control. (Emergency brakes are covered later.)
TRAILER AIR SUPPLY CONTROL
The trailer air supply control on newer vehicles is a
red eight-sided knob, which you use to control the
tractor protection valve. You push it in to supply the
trailer with air, and pull it out to shut the air off and
put on the trailer emergency brakes. The valve will
pop out (thus closing the tractor protection valve)
when the air pressure drops into the range of 20 to
45 PSI. Tractor protection valve controls or "emergency" valves on older vehicles may not operate
automatically. There may be a lever rather than a
knob. The "normal" position is used for pulling a
trailer. The "emergency" position is used to shut
the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes.
metal tubing, or other part breaking, letting the air
out. When the emergency line loses pressure, it
also causes the tractor protection valve to close (the
air supply knob will pop out).
Emergency lines are often coded with the color red
(red hose, red couplers, or other parts) to keep from
getting them mixed up with the blue service line.
HOSE COUPLERS (GLAD HANDS)
Glad hands are coupling devices used to connect
the service and emergency air lines from the truck
or tractor to the trailer. The couplers have a rubber
seal, which prevents air from escaping. Clean the
couplers and rubber seals before a connection is
made. When connecting the glad hands, press the
two seals together with the couplers at a 90degree angle to each other. A turn of the glad hand
attached to the hose will join and lock the couplers.
When coupling, make sure to couple the proper
glad hands together. To help avoid mistakes, colors are sometimes used. Blue is used for the service lines and red for the emergency (supply) lines.
Sometimes, metal tags are attached to the lines
with the words "service" and "emergency" stamped
on them. See Figure 7.6
TRAILER AIR LINES
Every combination vehicle has two air lines, the
service line and the emergency line. They run between each vehicle (tractor to trailer, trailer to dolly,
dolly to second trailer, etc.)
Service Air Line. The service line (also called the
control line or signal line) carries air, which is controlled by the foot brake or the trailer hand brake.
Depending on how hard you press the foot brake
or hand valve, the pressure in the service line will
similarly change. The service line is connected to
relay valves. These valves allow the trailer brakes
to be applied more quickly than would otherwise
be possible.
Emergency Air Line. The emergency line (also
called the supply line) has two purposes. First, it
supplies air to the trailer air tanks. Second, the
emergency line controls the emergency brakes on
combination vehicles. Loss of air pressure in the
emergency line causes the trailer emergency brakes
to come on. The pressure loss could be caused by a
trailer breaking loose, thus tearing apart the emergency air hose. Or it could be caused by a hose,
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 5
Figure 7.6
CDL Driver’s Handbook
If you do cross the air lines, supply air will be sent to
the service line instead of going to charge the trailer
air tanks. Air will not be available to release the
trailer spring brakes (parking brakes). If the spring
brakes don't release when you push the trailer air
supply control, check the air line connections.
Older trailers do not have spring brakes. If the air
supply in the trailer air tank has leaked away there
will be no emergency brakes, and the trailer
wheels will turn freely. If you crossed the air lines,
you could drive away but you wouldn't have trailer
brakes. This would be very dangerous. Always test
the trailer brakes before driving with the hand valve
or by pulling the air supply (tractor protection valve)
control. Pull gently against them in a low gear to
make sure the brakes work.
Some vehicles have "dead end" or dummy couplers to which the hoses may be attached when
they are not in use. This will prevent water and dirt
from getting into the coupler and the air lines. Use
the dummy couplers when the air lines are not
connected to a trailer. If there are no dummy couplers, the glad hands can sometimes be locked
together (depending on the couplings). It is very
important to keep the air supply clean.
TRAILER SERVICE, PARKING AND
EMERGENCY BRAKES
Newer trailers have spring brakes just like trucks
and truck tractors. However, converter dollies and
trailers built before 1975 are not required to have
spring brakes. Those that do not have spring
brakes have emergency brakes, which work from
the air stored in the trailer air tank. The emergency
brakes come on whenever air pressure in the
emergency line is lost. These trailers have no parking brake. The emergency brakes come on whenever the air supply knob is pulled out or the trailer
is disconnected. A major leak in the emergency
line will cause the tractor protection valve to close
and the trailer emergency brakes to come on. But
the brakes will hold only as long as there is air
pressure in the trailer air tank. Eventually, the air
will leak away and then there will be no brakes.
Therefore, it is very important for safety that you
use wheel chocks when you park trailers without
spring brakes.
You may not notice a major leak in the service line
until you try to put the brakes on. Then, the air loss
from the leak will lower the air tank pressure
quickly. If it goes low enough, the trailer emergency brakes will come on.
TRAILER AIR TANKS
Each trailer and converter dolly has one or more
air tanks. They are filled by the emergency (supply)
line from the tractor. They provide the air pressure
used to operate trailer brakes. Air pressure is sent
from the air tanks to the brakes by relay valves.
The pressure in the service line tells how much
pressure the relay valves should send to the trailer
brakes. The pressure in the service line is controlled
by the brake pedal (and the trailer hand brake).
It is important that you don't let water and oil build
up in the air tanks. If you do, the brakes may not
work correctly. Each tank has a drain valve on it
and you should drain each tank every day. If your
tanks have automatic drains, they will keep most
moisture out. But you should still open the drains to
make sure.
Subsection 7.2
Test Your Knowledge
1. Why should you not use the trailer hand valve
while driving?
2. Describe what the trailer air supply control
does.
3. Describe what the service line is for.
4. What is the emergency air line for?
5. Why should you use chocks when parking a
trailer without spring brakes?
6. Where are shut-off valves?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsection 7.2.
SHUT-OFF VALVES
Shut-off valves (also called cut-out cocks) are used
in the service and supply air lines at the back of
trailers used to tow other trailers. These valves
permit closing the air lines off when another trailer
is not being towed. You must check that all shut-off
valves are in the open position except the ones at
the back of the last trailer, which must be closed.
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 6
CDL Driver’s Handbook
7.3 – Antilock Brake Systems
TRAILERS REQUIRED TO HAVE ABS
All trailers and converter dollies built on or after
March 1, 1998, are required to have ABS. However, many trailers and converter dollies built before this date have been voluntarily equipped with
ABS.
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on
the left side, either on the front or rear corner. See
Figure 7.7. Dollies manufactured on or after March
1, 1998, are required to have a lamp on the left side.
In the case of vehicles manufactured before the
required date, it may be difficult to tell if the unit is
equipped with ABS. Look under the vehicle for the
ECU and wheel speed sensor wires coming from
the back of the brakes.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up. The computer
senses impending lockup, reduces the braking
pressure to a safe level, and you maintain control.
Having ABS on only the trailer, or even on only
one axle, still gives you more control over the vehicle during braking.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less
likely to swing out, but if you lose steering control
or start a tractor jackknife, let up on the brakes (if
you can safely do so) until you gain control.
When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with
ABS, you should brake as you always have. In
other words:
Use only the braking force necessary to stop
safely and stay in control.
Brake the same way, regardless of whether you
have ABS on the tractor, the trailer, or both.
As you slow down, monitor your tractor and
trailer and back off the brakes (if it is safe to do
so) to stay in control.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still
have regular brakes. Drive normally, but get the
system serviced soon.
ABS won’t allow you to drive faster, follow more
closely, or drive less carefully.
7.4 – Coupling and Uncoupling
Knowing how to couple and uncouple correctly is
basic to safe operation of combination vehicles.
Wrong coupling and uncoupling can be very dangerous. General coupling and uncoupling steps are
listed below. There are differences between different rigs, so learn the details of coupling and uncoupling the truck(s) you will operate.
Figure 7.7
COUPLING TRACTOR-SEMITRAILERS
Step 1. Inspect Fifth Wheel
BRAKING WITH ABS
 Check for damaged/missing parts.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does
not decrease or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when wheels are about
to lock up.
 Check to see that mounting to tractor is secure, no
cracks in frame, etc.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping
distance, but it does help you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.
 Be sure that the fifth wheel plate is greased as required. Failure to keep the fifth wheel plate lubricated could cause steering problems because of
friction between the tractor and trailer.
 Check if fifth wheel is in proper position for coupling:
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Wheel tilted down toward rear of tractor.
 Jaws open.
 Safety unlocking handle in the automatic lock
position.
 If you have a sliding fifth wheel, make sure it is
locked.
 Make sure the trailer kingpin is not bent or broken.
Step 2. Inspect Area and Chock Wheels
 Make sure area around the vehicle is clear.
 Be sure trailer wheels are chocked or spring brakes
are on.
 Check that cargo (if any) is secured against movement due to tractor being coupled to the trailer.
Step 3. Position Tractor
 Put the tractor directly in front of the trailer. (Never
back under the trailer at an angle because you
might push the trailer sideways and break the landing gear.)
 Check position, using outside mirrors, by looking
down both sides of the trailer.
 Make sure air lines are safely supported where they
won't be crushed or caught while tractor is backing
under the trailer.
Step 8. Supply Air to Trailer
 From cab, push in "air supply" knob or move tractor
protection valve control from the "emergency" to the
"normal" position to supply air to the trailer brake
system.
 Wait until the air pressure is normal.
 Check brake system for crossed air lines:
 Shut engine off so you can hear the brakes.
 Apply and release trailer brakes and listen for
sound of trailer brakes being applied and released. You should hear the brakes move when
applied and air escape when the brakes are released.
 Check air brake system pressure gauge for signs
of major air loss.
 When you are sure trailer brakes are working, start
engine.
 Make sure air pressure is up to normal.
Step 9. Lock Trailer Brakes
Step 4. Back Slowly
 Back until fifth wheel just touches the trailer.
 Don't hit the trailer.
 Pull out the "air supply" knob or move the tractor
protection valve control from "normal" to "emergency".
Step 10. Back Under Trailer
Step 5. Secure Tractor
 Use lowest reverse gear.
 Put on the parking brake.
 Put transmission in neutral.
 Back tractor slowly under trailer to avoid hitting the
kingpin too hard.
Step 6. Check Trailer Height
 Stop when the kingpin is locked into the fifth wheel.
 The trailer should be low enough that it is raised
slightly by the tractor when the tractor is backed
under it. Raise or lower the trailer as needed. (If the
trailer is too low, the tractor may strike and damage
the trailer nose; if the trailer is too high, it may not
couple correctly.)
Step 11. Check Connection for Security
 Check that the kingpin and fifth wheel are aligned.
 Raise trailer landing gear slightly off ground.
 Pull tractor gently forward while the trailer brakes
are still locked to check that the trailer is locked
onto the tractor.
Step 12. Secure Vehicle
Step 7. Connect Air Lines to Trailer
 Check glad hand seals and connect tractor emergency air line to trailer emergency glad hand.
 Check glad hand seals and connect tractor service
air line to trailer service glad hand.
 Put transmission in neutral.
 Put parking brakes on.
 Shut off engine and take key with you so someone
else won't move truck while you are under it.
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 8
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Step 13. Inspect Coupling
UNCOUPLING TRACTOR-SEMI-TRAILERS
 Use a flashlight, if necessary.
The following steps will help you to uncouple
safely.
 Make sure there is no space between upper and
lower fifth wheel. If there is space, something is
wrong (kingpin may be on top of the closed fifth
wheel jaws, and the trailer would come loose
very easily).
Step 1. Position Rig
 Make sure surface of parking area can support
weight of trailer.
 Go under trailer and look into the back of the fifth
wheel. Make sure the fifth wheel jaws have closed
around the shank of the kingpin.
 Have tractor lined up with the trailer. (Pulling out at
an angle can damage landing gear.)
 Check that the locking lever is in the "lock" position.
Step 2. Ease Pressure on Locking Jaws
 Check that the safety latch is in position over locking lever. (On some fifth wheels the latch must be
put in place by hand.)
 Shut off trailer air supply to lock trailer brakes.
 If the coupling isn't right, don't drive the coupled
unit; get it fixed.
Step 14. Connect the Electrical Cord and Check
Air Lines
 Plug the electrical cord into the trailer and fasten the
safety latch.
 Check both air lines and electrical line for signs of
damage.
 Make sure air and electrical lines will not hit any
moving parts of vehicle.
Step 15. Raise Front Trailer Supports (Landing
Gear)
 Use low gear range (if so equipped) to begin raising
the landing gear. Once free of weight, switch to the
high gear range.
 Raise the landing gear all the way up. (Never drive
with landing gear only part way up as it may catch
on railroad tracks or other things.)
 After raising landing gear, secure the crank handle
safely.
 Ease pressure on fifth wheel locking jaws by backing up gently. (This will help you release the fifth
wheel locking lever.)
 Put parking brakes on while tractor is pushing
against the kingpin. (This will hold rig with pressure
off the locking jaws.)
Step 3. Chock Trailer Wheels
 Chock the trailer wheels if the trailer doesn't have
spring brakes or if you're not sure. (The air could
leak out of the trailer air tank, releasing its emergency brakes. Without chocks, the trailer could
move.)
Step 4. Lower the Landing Gear
 If trailer is empty, lower the landing gear until it
makes firm contact with the ground.
 If trailer is loaded, after the landing gear makes
firm contact with the ground, turn crank in low
gear a few extra turns. This will lift some weight
off the tractor. (Do not lift trailer off the fifth
wheel.) This will:
Make it easier to unlatch fifth wheel.
Make it easier to couple next time.
 When full weight of trailer is resting on tractor:
Step 5. Disconnect Air Lines and Electrical Cable
Check for enough clearance between rear of
tractor frame and landing gear. (When tractor turns sharply, it must not hit landing
gear.)
Check that there is enough clearance between the top of the tractor tires and the
nose of the trailer.
Step 16. Remove Trailer Wheel Chocks
 Disconnect air lines from trailer. Connect air line
glad hands to dummy couplers at back of cab or
couple them together.
 Hang electrical cable with plug down to prevent
moisture from entering it.
 Make sure lines are supported so they won't be
damaged while driving the tractor.
 Remove and store wheel chocks in a safe place.
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 9
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Step 6. Unlock Fifth Wheel
 Raise the release handle lock.
 Pull the release handle to "open" position.
 Keep legs and feet clear of the rear tractor wheels
to avoid serious injury in case the vehicle moves.
Step 7. Pull Tractor Partially Clear of Trailer
 Pull tractor forward until fifth wheel comes out from
under the trailer.
 Stop with tractor frame under trailer (prevents trailer
from falling to ground if landing gear should collapse or sink).
Step 8. Secure Tractor
 Apply parking brake.
Figure 7.8
 Place transmission in neutral.
Step 9. Inspect Trailer Supports
 Make sure ground is supporting trailer.
 Make sure landing gear is not damaged.
Step 10. Pull Tractor Clear of Trailer
 Release parking brakes.
 Check the area and drive tractor forward until it
clears.
7.5 – Inspecting a Combination Vehicle
Use the seven-step inspection procedure described in Section 2 to inspect your combination
vehicle. There are more things to inspect on a
combination vehicle than on a single vehicle. (For
example, tires, wheels, lights, reflectors, etc.)
However, there are also some new things to check.
These are discussed below.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CHECK DURING A
WALK AROUND INSPECTION
Subsections 7.3 and 7.4
Test Your Knowledge
1. What might happen if the trailer is too high
when you try to couple?
2. After coupling, how much space should be between the upper and lower fifth wheel?
3. You should look into the back of the fifth wheel
to see if it is locked onto the kingpin. True or
False?
4. To drive you need to raise the landing gear
only until it just lifts off the pavement. True or
False?
5. How do you know if your trailer is equipped
with antilock brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsections 7.3 and 7.4.
Do these checks in addition to those already listed
in Section 2.
Coupling System Areas
 Check fifth wheel (lower):
 Securely mounted to frame.
 No missing or damaged parts.
 Enough grease.
 No visible space between upper and lower fifth
wheel.
 Locking jaws around the shank, not the head of
kingpin. See Figure 7.8.
 Release arm properly
latch/lock engaged.
seated
and
safety
 Check fifth wheel (upper):
 Glide plate securely mounted to trailer frame.
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 10
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Kingpin not damaged.
 Air and electric lines to trailer:
 Electrical cord firmly plugged in and secured.
 Air lines properly connected to glad hands, no air
leaks, properly secured with enough slack for
turns.
 All lines free from damage.
 Sliding fifth wheel:
 Slide not damaged or parts missing.
 Properly greased.
 All locking pins present and locked in place.
 If air powered—no air leaks.
 Check that fifth wheel is not so far forward that
tractor frame will hit landing gear, or the cab hit
the trailer, during turns.
Landing Gear
 Fully raised, no missing parts, not bent or otherwise
damaged.
Test Tractor Protection Valve. Charge the trailer
air brake system. (That is, build up normal air
pressure and push the "air supply" knob in.) Shut
the engine off. Step on and off the brake pedal
several times to reduce the air pressure in the
tanks. The trailer air supply control (also called the
tractor protection valve) should pop out (or go from
"normal" to "emergency" position) when the air
pressure falls into the pressure range of approximately 20 to 45 PSI.
If the tractor protection valve doesn't work right, an
air hose or trailer brake leak could drain all the air
from the tractor. This would cause the emergency
brakes to come on, with possible loss of control.
Test Trailer Emergency Brakes. Charge the
trailer air brake system and check that the trailer
rolls freely. Then stop and pull out the trailer air
supply control (also called tractor protection valve l
or trailer emergency valve), or place it in the
"emergency" position. Pull gently on the trailer with
the tractor to check that the trailer emergency
brakes are on.
Do these checks in addition to Section 6.3: Inspecting Air Brake Systems.
Test Trailer Service Brakes. Check for normal air
pressure, release the parking brakes, move the
vehicle forward slowly, and apply trailer brakes
with the hand control (trolley valve), if so equipped.
You should feel the brakes come on. This tells you
the trailer brakes are connected and working. (The
trailer brakes should be tested with the hand valve
but controlled in normal operation with the foot
pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all
wheels.)
The following section explains how to check air
brakes on combination vehicles. Check the brakes
on a double or triple trailer as you would any combination vehicle.
Subsection 7.5
Test Your Knowledge
 Crank handle in place and secured.
 If power operated, no air or hydraulic leaks.
COMBINATION VEHICLE BRAKE CHECK
Check That Air Flows to All Trailers. Use the tractor parking brake and/or chock the wheels to hold
the vehicle. Wait for air pressure to reach normal,
and then push in the red "trailer air supply" knob.
This will supply air to the emergency (supply) lines.
Use the trailer handbrake to provide air to the service line. Go to the rear of the rig. Open the emergency line shut-off valve at the rear of the last trailer.
You should hear air escaping, showing the entire
system is charged. Close the emergency line valve.
Open the service line valve to check that service
pressure goes through all the trailers (this test assumes that the trailer handbrake or the service
brake pedal is on), and then close the valve. If you
do NOT hear air escaping from both lines, check
that the shut-off valves on the trailer(s) and
dolly(ies) are in the OPEN position. You MUST have
air all the way to the back for all the brakes to work.
1. Which shut-off valves should be open and
which closed?
2. How can you test that air flows to all trailers?
3. How can you test the tractor protection valve?
4. How can you test the trailer emergency
brakes?
5. How can you test the trailer service brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer all of them, re-read subsection 7.5.
Section 7 – Combination Vehicles
Page 7 - 11
CDL Driver’s Handbook
LOOK FAR AHEAD
Section 8
DOUBLES AND TRIPLES
This Section Covers
Doubles and triples must be driven very smoothly
to avoid rollover or jackknife. Therefore, look far
ahead so you can slow down or change lanes
gradually when necessary.
MANAGE SPACE




Pulling Double/Triple Trailers
Coupling and Uncoupling
Inspecting Doubles and Triples
Checking Air Brakes
This section has information you need to pass the
CDL knowledge test for driving safely with double
and triple trailers. It talks about how important it is
to be very careful when driving with more than one
trailer, how to couple and uncouple correctly, and
about inspecting doubles and triples carefully. (You
should also study Sections 2, 6, and 7.)
8.1 – Pulling Double/Triple Trailers
Take special care when pulling two and three trailers. There are more things that can go wrong, and
doubles/triples are less stable than other commercial vehicles. Some areas of concern are discussed below.
PREVENT TRAILER FROM ROLLING OVER
To prevent trailers from rolling over, you must steer
gently and go slowly around corners, on ramps, off
ramps, and curves. A safe speed on a curve for a
straight truck or a single trailer combination vehicle
may be too fast for a set of doubles or triples.
BEWARE OF THE CRACK-THE-WHIP EFFECT
Doubles and triples are more likely to turn over
than other combination vehicles because of the
"crack-the-whip" effect. You must steer gently
when pulling trailers. The last trailer in a combination is most likely to turn over. If you don't understand the crack-the-whip effect, study subsection
7.1 of this handbook.
Doubles and triples take up more space than other
commercial vehicles. They are not only longer, but
also need more space because they can't be
turned or stopped suddenly. Allow more following
distance. Make sure you have large enough gaps
before entering or crossing traffic. Be certain you
are clear at the sides before changing lanes.
ADVERSE CONDITIONS
Be careful in adverse conditions. In bad weather,
slippery conditions, and mountain driving, you must
be especially careful if you drive double and triple
bottoms. You will have greater length and more
dead axles to pull with your drive axles than other
drivers. There is more chance for skids and loss of
traction.
PARKING THE VEHICLE
Make sure you do not get in a spot you cannot pull
straight through. You need to be aware of how
parking lots are arranged in order to avoid a long
and difficult escape.
ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS ON
CONVERTER DOLLIES
Converter dollies built on or after March 1, 1998,
are required to have antilock brakes. These dollies
will have a yellow lamp on the left side of the dolly.
8.2 – Coupling and Uncoupling
Knowing how to couple and uncouple correctly is
basic to safe operation of doubles and triples.
Wrong coupling and uncoupling can be very dangerous. Coupling and uncoupling steps for doubles
and triples are listed below.
INSPECT COMPLETELY
There are more critical parts to check when you
have two or three trailers. Check them all. Follow
the procedures described later in this section.
COUPLING TWIN TRAILERS
Secure Second (Rear) Trailer
If the second trailer doesn't have spring brakes,
drive the tractor close to the trailer, connect the
emergency line, charge the trailer air tank, and
disconnect the emergency line. This will set the
Section 8 – Doubles and Triples
Page 8 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
trailer emergency brakes (if the slack adjusters are
correctly adjusted). Chock the wheels if you have
any doubt about the brakes.
Connect Converter Dolly to Front Trailer
For the safest handling on the road, the more
heavily loaded semi trailer should be in first position behind the tractor. The lighter trailer should be
in the rear.
 Hook dolly to front trailer:
A converter gear on a dolly is a coupling device of
one or two axles and a fifth wheel by which a semi
trailer can be coupled to the rear of a tractor-trailer
combination forming a double bottom rig. See Figure 8.1.
Position Converter Dolly in Front of Second
 Back first semi trailer into position in front of dolly
tongue.
 Lock pintle hook.
 Secure converter gear support in raised position.
Connect Converter Dolly to Rear Trailer
 Make sure trailer brakes are locked and/or chock
the wheels.
 Make sure trailer height is correct. (It must be
slightly lower than the center of the fifth wheel, so
trailer is raised slightly when dolly is pushed under.)
 Back converter dolly under rear trailer.
 Raise landing gear slightly off ground to prevent
damage if trailer moves.
 Test coupling by pulling against pin of the second
semi trailer.
 Make visual check of coupling. (No space between
upper and lower fifth wheel. Locking jaws closed on
kingpin.)
Figure 8.1
 Connect safety chains, air hoses, and light cords.
(Rear) Trailer
Release dolly brakes by opening the air tank petcock. (Or, if the dolly has spring brakes, use the
dolly parking brake control.)
If the distance is not too great, wheel the dolly into
position by hand so it is in line with the kingpin.
Or, use the tractor and first semi trailer to pick up
the converter dolly:
 Position combination as close as possible to converter dolly.
 Move dolly to rear of first semi trailer and couple it
to the trailer.
 Lock pintle hook.
 Secure dolly support in raised position.
 Pull dolly into position as close as possible to nose
of the second semi trailer.
 Lower dolly support.
 Close converter dolly air tank petcock and shut-off
valves at rear of second trailer (service and emergency shut-offs).
 Open shut-off valves at rear of first trailer (and on
dolly if so equipped).
 Raise landing gear completely.
 Charge trailer brakes (push "air supply" knob in),
and check for air at rear of second trailer by
opening the emergency line shut-off. If air pressure isn't there, something is wrong and the
brakes won't work.
UNCOUPLING TWIN TRAILERS
Uncouple Rear Trailer
 Park rig in a straight line on firm level ground.
 Apply parking brakes so rig won't move.
 Chock wheels of second trailer if it doesn't have
spring brakes.
 Unhook dolly from first trailer.
 Lower landing gear of second semi trailer enough
to remove some weight from dolly.
 Wheel dolly into position in front of second trailer in
line with the kingpin.
 Close air shut-offs at rear of first semi trailer (and on
dolly if so equipped).
Section 8 – Doubles and Triples
Page 8 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Disconnect all dolly air and electric lines and secure
them.
8.3 – Inspecting Doubles and Triples
 Release dolly brakes.
Use the seven-step inspection procedure described in Section 2 to inspect your combination
vehicle. There are more things to inspect on a
combination vehicle than on a single vehicle. Many
of these items are simply more of what you would
find on a single vehicle. (For example, tires,
wheels, lights, reflectors, etc.) However, there are
also some new things to check. These are discussed below.
 Release converter dolly fifth wheel latch.
 Slowly pull tractor, first semi trailer, and dolly forward to pull dolly out from under rear semi trailer.
Uncouple Converter Dolly
 Lower dolly landing gear.
 Disconnect safety chains.
ADDITIONAL CHECKS
 Apply converter gear spring brakes or chock
wheels.
Do these checks in addition to those already listed
in Section 2, Step 5: Do Walk Around Inspection.
 Release pintle hook on first semi-trailer.
 Slowly pull clear of dolly.
Coupling System Areas
 Check fifth wheel (lower):
Never unlock the pintle hook with the dolly still under the rear trailer. The dolly tow bar may fly up,
possibly causing injury, and making it very difficult
to re-couple.
COUPLING AND UNCOUPLING TRIPLE
TRAILERS
Couple Tractor/First Semi-trailer to Second/
Third Trailers
 Couple tractor to first trailer. Use the method already described for coupling tractor-semi-trailers.
 Move converter dolly into position and couple first
trailer to second trailer using the method for coupling doubles. Triples rig is now complete.
UNCOUPLE TRIPLE-TRAILER RIG
 Uncouple third trailer by pulling the dolly out, then
unhitching the dolly using the method for uncoupling doubles.
 Uncouple remainder of rig as you would any double-bottom rig using the method already described.
COUPLING AND UNCOUPLING OTHER
COMBINATIONS
The methods described so far apply to the more
common tractor-trailer combinations. However,
there are other ways of coupling and uncoupling
the many types of truck-trailer and tractor-trailer
combinations that are in use. There are too many
to cover in this handbook. Learn the right way to
couple the vehicle(s) you will drive according to the
manufacturer and/or owner.
 Securely mounted to frame.
 No missing or damaged parts.
 Enough grease.
 No visible space between upper and lower fifth
wheel.
 Locking jaws around the shank, not the head of
kingpin.
 Release arm properly seated and safety latch/
lock engaged.
 Check fifth wheel (upper):
 Glide plate securely mounted to trailer frame.
 Kingpin not damaged.
 Air and electric lines to trailer:
 Electrical cord firmly plugged in and secured.
 Air lines properly connected to glad hands, no air
leaks, properly secured with enough slack for
turns.
 All lines free from damage.
 Sliding fifth wheel:
 Slide not damaged or parts missing.
 Properly greased.
 All locking pins present and locked in place.
 If air powered, no air leaks.
 Check that fifth wheel is not so far forward that
tractor frame will hit landing gear, or cab hit the
trailer, during turns.
Section 8 – Doubles and Triples
Page 8 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Landing Gear
 Fully raised, no missing parts not bent or otherwise
damaged.
 Crank handle in place and secured.
 If power operated, no air or hydraulic leaks.
Double and Triple Trailers
 Shut-off valves (at rear of trailers, in service and
emergency lines):
 Rear of front trailers: OPEN.
 Rear of last trailer: CLOSED.
 Converter dolly air tank drain valve: CLOSED.
 Be sure air lines are supported and glad hands are
properly connected.
 If spare tire is carried on converter gear (dolly),
make sure it's secured.
 Be sure pintle-eye of dolly is in place in pintle hook
of trailer(s).
 Make sure pintle hook is latched.
 Safety chains should be secured to trailer(s).
 Be sure light cords are firmly in sockets on trailers.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CHECK DURING A
WALK AROUND INSPECTION
Do these checks in addition to subsection 6.3, Inspecting Air Brake Systems.
8.4 – Doubles/Triples Air Brake Check
Check the brakes on a double or triple trailer as
you would any combination vehicle. Subsection 7.2
explains how to check air brakes on combination
vehicles. You must also make the following checks
on your double or triple trailers
line valve to check that service pressure goes
through all the trailers (this test assumes that the
trailer handbrake or the service brake pedal is on),
and then close the valve. If you do NOT hear air
escaping from both lines, check that the shut-off
valves on the trailer(s) and dolly(ies) are in the
OPEN position. You MUST have air all the way to
the back for all the brakes to work.
Test Tractor Protection Valve. Charge the trailer
air brake system. (That is, build up normal air
pressure and push the "air supply" knob in.) Shut
the engine off. Step on and off the brake pedal
several times to reduce the air pressure in the
tanks. The trailer air supply control (also called the
tractor protection valve control) should pop out (or
go from "normal" to "emergency" position) when
the air pressure falls into the pressure range specified by the manufacturer. (Usually within the range
of 20 to 45 PSI.)
If the tractor protection valve doesn't work properly,
an air hose or trailer brake leak could drain all the
air from the tractor. This would cause the emergency brakes to come on, with possible loss of
control.
Test Trailer Emergency Brakes. Charge the
trailer air brake system and check that the trailer
rolls freely. Then stop and pull out the trailer air
supply control (also called tractor protection valve
control or trailer emergency valve) or place it in the
"emergency" position. Pull gently on the trailer with
the tractor to check that the trailer emergency
brakes are on.
Test Trailer Service Brakes. Check for normal air
pressure, release the parking brakes, move the
vehicle forward slowly, and apply trailer brakes
with the hand control (trolley valve), if so equipped.
You should feel the brakes come on. This tells you
the trailer brakes are connected and working. (The
trailer brakes should be tested with the hand valve,
but controlled in normal operation with the foot
pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all
wheels.)
ADDITIONAL AIR BRAKE CHECKS
Check That Air Flows to All Trailers (Double
and Triple Trailers). Use the tractor parking brake
and/or chock the wheels to hold the vehicle. Wait
for air pressure to reach normal, then push in the
red "trailer air supply" knob. This will supply air to
the emergency (supply) lines. Use the trailer handbrake to provide air to the service line. Go to the
rear of the rig. Open the emergency line shut-off
valve at the rear of the last trailer. You should hear
air escaping, showing the entire system is charged.
Close the emergency line valve. Open the service
Section 8 – Doubles and Triples
Page 8 - 4
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 8
Test Your Knowledge
1. What is a converter dolly?
2. Do converter dollies have spring brakes?
3. What three methods can you use to secure a
second trailer before coupling?
4. How do you check to make sure trailer height
is correct before coupling?
5. What do you
check when making a visual
check of coupling?
6. Why should you pull a dolly out from under a
trailer before you disconnect it from the trailer
in front?
7. What should you check for when inspecting
the converter dolly? The pintle hook?
8. Should the shut-off valves on the rear of the
last trailer be open or closed? On the first
trailer in a set of doubles? On the middle trailer
of a set of triples?
9. How can you test that air flows to all trailers?
10. How do you know if your converter dolly is
equipped with antilock brakes?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read Section 8.
Section 8 – Doubles and Triples
Page 8 - 5
CDL Driver’s Handbook
CHECK SPECIAL PURPOSE EQUIPMENT
Section 9
If your vehicle has any of the following equipment,
make sure it works:
TANK VEHICLES
 Vapor recovery kits.
This Section Covers
 Grounding and bonding cables.
 Emergency shut-off systems.
 Inspecting Tank Vehicles
 Driving Tank Vehicles
 Safe Driving Rules
 Built in fire extinguisher.
This section has information needed to pass the
CDL written knowledge test for driving a tank vehicle. (You should also study Sections 2, 6, and 7). A
tank endorsement is required for certain vehicles
that transport liquids or gases. The liquid or gas
does not have to be a hazardous material. A tank
endorsement is required if your vehicle is a Class
A, B or C CMV and you want to haul liquid or liquid
gas in a permanently mounted cargo tank rated at
119 gallons or more or a portable tank rated at
1,000 gallons or more.
Before loading, unloading, or driving a tanker, inspect the vehicle. This makes sure that the vehicle
is safe to carry the liquid or gas and is safe to drive.
Never drive a tank vehicle with open valves or
manhole covers.
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
Check the emergency equipment required for your
vehicle. Find out what equipment you're required to
carry and make sure you have it (and it works).
9.2 – Driving Tank Vehicles
Hauling liquids in tanks requires special skills because of the high center of gravity and liquid
movement. See Figure 9.1.
9.1 – Inspecting Tank Vehicles
Tank vehicles have special items that you need to
check. Tank vehicles come in many different types
and sizes. You need to check the vehicle's operator manual to make sure you know how to inspect
your tank vehicle.
LEAKS
On all tank vehicles, the most important item to
check for is leaks. Check under and around the
vehicle for signs of any leaking. Don't carry liquids
or gases in a leaking tank. To do so is a crime. You
will be cited and prevented from driving further.
You may also be liable for the clean up of any spill.
In general, check the following:
 Check the tank's body or shell for dents or leaks.
 Check the intake, discharge, and cut-off valves.
Make sure the valves are in the correct position before loading, unloading, or moving the vehicle.
 Check pipes, connections, and hoses for leaks,
especially around joints.
Figure 9.1
HIGH CENTER OF GRAVITY
High center of gravity means that much of the
load's weight is carried high up off the road. This
makes the vehicle top-heavy and easy to roll over.
Liquid tankers are especially easy to roll over.
Tests have shown that tankers can turn over at the
speed limits posted for curves. Take highway
curves and on ramp/off ramp curves well below the
posted speeds.
 Check manhole covers and vents. Make sure the
covers have gaskets and they close correctly. Keep
the vents clear so they work correctly.
Section 9 – Tank Vehicles
Page 9 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
DANGER OF SURGE
liquids. The amount of liquid to load into a tank
depends on:
Liquid surge results from movement of the liquid in
partially filled tanks. This movement can have bad
effects on handling. For example, when coming to
a stop, the liquid will surge back and forth. When
the wave hits the end of the tank, it tends to push
the truck in the direction the wave is moving. If the
truck is on a slippery surface such as ice, the wave
can shove a stopped truck out into an intersection.
The driver of a liquid tanker must be very familiar
with the handling of the vehicle.
BULKHEADS
Some liquid tanks are divided into several smaller
tanks by bulkheads. When loading and unloading
the smaller tanks, the driver must pay attention to
weight distribution. Don't put too much weight on
the front or rear of the vehicle.
 The amount the liquid will expand in transit.
 The weight of the liquid.
 Legal weight limits.
9.3 – Safe Driving Rules
In order to drive tank vehicles safely, you must remember to follow all the safe driving rules. A few of
these rules are:
DRIVE SMOOTHLY
Because of the high center of gravity and the surge
of the liquid, you must start, slow down, and stop
very smoothly. Also, make smooth turns and lane
changes.
BAFFLED TANKS
CONTROLLING SURGE
Baffled liquid tanks have bulkheads in them with
holes that let the liquid flow through. The baffles
help to control the forward and backward liquid
surge. Side-to-side surge can still occur. This can
cause a roll over.
UN-BAFFLED TANKS
Un-baffled liquid tankers (sometimes called
"smooth bore" tanks) have nothing inside to slow
down the flow of the liquid. Therefore, forward-andback surge is very strong. Un-baffled tanks are
usually those that transport food products (milk, for
example). (Sanitation regulations forbid the use of
baffles because of the difficulty in cleaning the inside of the tank.) Be extremely cautious (slow and
careful) in driving smooth bore tanks, especially
when starting and stopping.
Keep a steady pressure on the brakes. Do not release too soon when coming to a stop.
Brake far in advance of a stop and increase your
following distance.
If you must make a quick stop to avoid a crash,
use controlled or stab braking. If you do not remember how to stop using these methods, review
subsection 2.17. Also, remember that if you steer
quickly while braking, your vehicle may roll over.
CURVES
Slow down before curves, and then accelerate
slightly through the curve. The posted speed for a
curve may be too fast for a tank vehicle.
OUTAGE
STOPPING DISTANCE
Never load a cargo tank totally full. Liquids expand
as they warm and you must leave room for the expanding liquid. This is called "outage." Since different liquids expand by different amounts, they require different amounts of outage. You must know
the outage requirement when hauling liquids in bulk.
Keep in mind how much space you need to stop
your vehicle. Remember that wet roads double the
normal stopping distance. Empty tank vehicles
may take longer to stop than full ones.
HOW MUCH TO LOAD?
A full tank of dense liquid (such as some acids)
may exceed legal weight limits. For that reason,
you may often only partially fill tanks with heavy
SKIDS
Don't over steer, over accelerate, or over brake. If
you do, your vehicle may skid. On tank trailers, if
your drive wheels or trailer wheels begin to skid,
your vehicle may jackknife. When any vehicle
starts to skid, you must take action to restore traction to the wheels.
Section 9 – Tank Vehicles
Page 9 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 9
Test Your Knowledge
1. How are bulkheads different than baffles?
2. Should a tank vehicle take curves, on ramps,
or off ramps at the posted speed limits?
3. How are smooth bore tankers different to drive
than those with baffles?
4. What three things determine how much liquid
you can load?
5. What is outage?
6. How can you help control surge?
7. What two reasons make special care necessary when driving tank vehicles?
These questions may be on the test. If you can't
answer them all, re-read Section 9.
Section 9 – Tank Vehicles
Page 9 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 10
HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
This Section Covers







The Intent of the Regulations
Bulk Tank Loading, Unloading, and Marking
Driver Responsibilities
Driving and Parking Rules
Communications Rules
Emergencies
Loading and Unloading
Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk
to health, safety, and property during transportation. The term often is shortened to HAZMAT,
which you may see on road signs, or to HM in government regulations. Hazardous materials include
explosives, various types of gas, solids, flammable
and combustible liquid, and other materials. Because of the risks involved and the potential consequences these risks impose, all levels of government regulate the handling of hazardous
materials.
The Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) is
found in parts 100-185 of title 49 of the Code of
Federal Regulations. The common reference for
these regulations is 49 CFR 100-185.
The Hazardous Materials Table in the regulations
contains a list of these items. However, this list is
not all-inclusive. Whether or not a material is considered hazardous is based on its characteristics
and the shipper's decision on whether or not the
material meets a definition of a hazardous material
in the regulations.
The regulations require vehicles transporting certain types or quantities of hazardous materials to
display diamond-shaped, square on point, warning
signs called placards.
This section is designed to assist you in understanding your role and responsibilities in hauling
hazardous materials. Due to the constantly changing nature of government regulations, it is impossible to guarantee absolute accuracy of the materials in this section. An up-to-date copy of the
complete regulations is essential for you to have.
Included in these regulations is a complete glossary of terms.
you drive any size vehicle that is used in the transportation of any material that requires hazardous
material placarding or any quantity of a material
listed as a select agent or toxin in 42 CFR 93. You
must pass a written test about the regulations and
requirements to get this endorsement.
Everything you need to know to pass the written
test is in this section. However, this is only a beginning. Most drivers need to know much more on
the job. You can learn more by reading and understanding the federal and state rules applicable to
hazardous materials, as well as, attending hazardous materials training courses. Your employer,
colleges and universities, and various associations
usually offer these courses. You can get copies of
the Federal Regulations (49 CFR) through your
local Government Printing Office bookstore and
various industry publishers. Union or company offices often have copies of the rules for driver’s use.
Find out where you can get your own copy to use
on the job.
The regulations require training and testing for all
drivers involved in transporting hazardous materials.
Your employer or a designated representative is
required to provide this training and testing. Hazardous materials employers are required to keep a
record of that training on each employee as long as
that employee is working with hazardous materials,
and for 90 days thereafter. The regulations require
that hazardous materials employees be trained and
tested at least once every three years.
By March 24, 2006, all drivers must be trained in
the security risks of hazardous materials transportation. This training must include how to recognize
and respond to possible security threats.
The regulations also require that drivers have special training before driving a vehicle transporting
certain flammable gas materials or highway route
controlled quantities of radioactive materials. In
addition, drivers transporting cargo tanks and portable tanks must receive specialized training. Each
driver’s employer or his or her designated representative must provide such training.
Some locations require permits to transport certain
explosives or bulk hazardous wastes. States and
counties also may require drivers to follow special
hazardous materials routes. The federal government may require permits or exemptions for special hazardous materials cargo such as rocket fuel.
Find out about permits, exemptions, and special
routes for the places you drive.
You must have a commercial driver license (CDL)
with a hazardous materials endorsement before
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
10.1 – The Intent of the Regulations
 Uses the hazardous materials regulations to determine the product’s:
CONTAIN THE MATERIAL
 Proper shipping name.
Transporting hazardous materials can be risky.
The regulations are intended to protect you, those
around you, and the environment. They tell shippers how to package the materials safely and drivers how to load, transport, and unload the material.
These are called "containment rules."
 Hazard class.
 Identification number.
 Packing group.
 Correct packaging.
 Correct label and markings.
COMMUNICATE THE RISK
 Correct placards.
To communicate the risk, shippers must warn drivers and others about the material's hazards. The
regulations require shippers to put hazard warning
labels on packages, provide proper shipping papers, emergency response information, and placards. These steps communicate the hazard to the
shipper, the carrier, and the driver.
 Must package, mark, and label the materials; prepare shipping papers; provide emergency response
information; and supply placards.
ASSURE SAFE DRIVERS AND EQUIPMENT
In order to get a hazardous materials endorsement
on a CDL, you must pass a written test about
transporting hazardous materials. To pass the test,
you must know how to:
 Identify what are hazardous materials.
 Safely load shipments.
 Certify on the shipping paper that the shipment has
been prepared according to the rules (unless you
are pulling cargo tanks supplied by you or your employer).
THE CARRIER
 Takes the shipment from the shipper to its destination.
 Prior to transportation, checks that the shipper correctly described, marked, labeled, and otherwise
prepared the shipment for transportation.
 Refuses improper shipments.
 Properly placard your vehicle in accordance with
the rules.
 Reports accidents and incidents involving hazardous materials to the proper government agency.
 Safely transport shipments.
Learn the rules and follow them. Following the
rules reduces the risk of injury from hazardous materials. Taking shortcuts by breaking rules is unsafe. Non-compliance with regulations can result in
fines and jail.
Inspect your vehicle before and during each trip.
Law enforcement officers may stop and inspect
your vehicle. When stopped, they may check your
shipping papers, vehicle placards, and the hazardous materials endorsement on your driver license,
and your knowledge of hazardous materials.
10.2 – Hazardous Materials
Transportation—Who Does What
THE SHIPPER
THE DRIVER
 Makes sure the shipper has identified, marked, and
labeled the hazardous materials properly.
 Refuses leaking packages and shipments.
 Placards the vehicle when loading, if required.
 Safely transports the shipment without delay.
 Follows all special rules about transporting hazardous materials.
 Keeps hazardous materials shipping papers and
emergency response information in the proper
place.
10.3 – Communication Rules
DEFINITIONS
 Sends products from one place to another by truck,
rail, vessel, or airplane.
Some words and phrases have special meanings
when talking about hazardous materials. Some of
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
these may differ from meanings you are used to.
The words and phrases in this section may be on
your test. The meanings of other important words
are in the glossary at the end of Section 10.
A material's hazard class reflects the risks associated with it. There are nine different hazard
classes. The types of materials included in these
nine classes are in Figure 10.1.
Division
Class
1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
2.1
2.2
2
2.3
3
7
8
Name of Class or
Division
Mass Explosives
Projection Hazard
Fire Hazard
Minor Explosion
Very Insensitive
Extreme
Insensitive
Flammable Gases
Non-Flammable
Gases
Poisonous/Toxic
Gases
 Carriers and drivers to quickly identify hazardous
materials shipping papers, or keep them on top of
other shipping papers and keep the required emergency response information with the shipping papers.
Examples
Dynamite
Flares
Display Fireworks
Ammunition
Blasting Agents
Explosive Devices
 In a pouch on the driver's door, or
Fluorine,
Compressed
 In clear view within immediate reach while the
seat belt is fastened while driving, or
 On the driver's seat when out of the vehicle.
4.1
4.2
Flammable Gases
Spontaneously
Combustible
Dangerous When
Wet
Oxidizers
Organic Peroxides
Ammonium Picrate,
Wetted
White Phosphorus
Sodium
5.1
5.2
6.2
—
—
Poison (Toxic
Material)
Infectious
Substances
Radioactive
Corrosives
 Drivers to keep hazardous materials shipping papers:
Propane
Helium
Gasoline
6.1
6
 Shippers to describe hazardous materials correctly
and include an emergency response telephone
number on shipping papers.
Flammable Liquids
4.3
5
Hazardous Materials Table
—
4
After an accident or hazardous materials spill or
leak, you may be injured and unable to communicate the hazards of the materials you are transporting. Firefighters and police can prevent or reduce
the amount of damage or injury at the scene if they
know what hazardous materials are being carried.
Your life, and the lives of others, may depend on
quickly locating the hazardous materials shipping
papers. For that reason the rules require:
Ammonium Nitrate
Methyl Ethyl Ketone
Peroxide
Potassium Cyanide
Anthrax Virus
Uranium
Battery Fluid
9
—
Miscellaneous
Hazardous
Materials
e
—
ORM-D (Other
Regulated
Material-Domestic)
Food Flavorings,
Medicines
—
Combustible
Liquids
Fuel Oil
Polychlorinated
Biphenyls (PCB)
Figure 10.1
A shipping paper describes the hazardous materials being transported. Shipping orders, bills of lading, and manifests are all shipping papers. Figure
10.6 shows an example shipping paper.
PACKAGE LABELS
Shippers put diamond-shaped hazard warning labels on most hazardous materials packages.
These labels inform others of the hazard. If the
diamond label won't fit on the package, shippers
may put the label on a tag securely attached to the
package. For example, compressed gas cylinders
that will not hold a label will have tags or decals.
Labels look like the examples in Figure 10.2.
LISTS OF REGULATED PRODUCTS
Placards. Placards are used to warn others of
hazardous materials. Placards are signs put on the
outside of a vehicle and on bulk packages, which
identify the hazard class of the cargo. A placarded
vehicle must have at least four identical placards.
They are put on the front, rear, and both sides of
the vehicle. See Figure 10.3.
Placards must be readable from all four directions.
They are at least 10¾ inches square, square-onpoint, in a diamond shape. Cargo tanks and other
bulk packaging display the identification number of
their contents on placards or orange panels or
white square-on-point displays that are the same
size as placards.
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
lists, others on only one. Always check the following lists:
 Section 172.101, the Hazardous Materials Table.
 Appendix A to Section 172.101, the List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities.
 Appendix B to Section 172.101, the List of Marine
Pollutants.
The Hazardous Materials Table. Figure 10.4
shows part of the Hazardous Materials Table. Column 1 tells which shipping mode(s) the entry affects and other information concerning the shipping description. The next five columns show each
material's shipping name, hazard class or division,
identification number, packaging group, and required labels.
Figure 10.2
Identification numbers are a four-digit code used
by first responders to identify hazardous materials.
An identification number may be used to identify
more than one chemical. The letters “NA” or “UN”
will precede the identification number. The United
States Department of Transportation’s Emergency
Response Guidebook (ERG) lists the chemicals
and the identification numbers are assigned to
them.
Six different symbols may appear in Column 1 of
the table.
(+) Shows the proper shipping name, hazard
class, and packing group to use, even if the
material doesn't meet the hazard class definition.
There are three main lists used by shippers, carriers, and drivers when trying to identify hazardous
materials. Before transporting a material, look for
(A) Means the hazardous material described in
Column 2 is subject to the HMR only when offered or intended for transport by air unless it
is a hazardous substance or hazardous waste.
(W) Means the hazardous material described in
Column 2 is subject to the HMR only when offered or intended for transportation by water
unless it is a hazardous substance, hazardous
waste, or marine pollutant.
(D) Means the proper shipping name is appropriate for describing materials for domestic transportation, but may not be proper for international transportation.
(I) Identifies a proper shipping name that is used
to describe materials in international transportation. A different shipping name may be used
when only domestic transportation is involved.
Table 10.4
its name on three lists. Some materials are on all
49 CFR 172.101 Hazardous Materials Table
Symbols
Hazardous Materials
Description & Proper
Shipping Names
Hazard
Class or
Division
Identification
Numbers
PG
Label
Codes
Special
Provisions
(172.1010
Packaging (173. ***)
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8A)
Non
Bulk
(8B)
A
Acetaldehyde ammonia
9
UN1841
III
9
IB8, IP6
155
204
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 4
Exceptions
Bulk
(8C)
240
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Appendix A to 49 CFR 172
List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities
Hazardous Substances
Synonyms
Reportable Quantity (RQ)
Pounds (Kilograms)
Phenyl mercaptan @
Phenylmercuric acetate
N-Phenylthiourea Phorate
Phorate
Benzinethiol, Thiophenol
Mercury, (acetato-0) phenyl
Thiourea, phenyl
100 (45.4)
100 (45.4)
100 (45.4)
Phosgene
10 (4.54)
Phosphorodithioic acid, O,O-diethyl S(ethylthio), methylester
Carbonyl chloride
Hydrogen Phosphide
Phosphine
Phosphoric acid
Phosphoric acid, diethyl
4-nitrophenyl ester
Diethyl-p nitrophenyl phosphate
Phosphoric acid, lead salt
Lead phosphate
* Spills of 10 pounds or more must be reported.
10 (4.54)
10 (4.54) *
100 (45.4)
5000 (2270)
100 (45.4)
1 (.454)
Table 10.5
(G) Means this hazardous material described in
Column 2 is a generic shipping name. A
generic shipping name must be accompanied
by a technical name on the shipping paper. A
technical name is a specific chemical that
makes the product hazardous.
Column 2 lists the proper shipping names and descriptions of regulated materials. Entries are in alphabetical order so you can more quickly find the
right entry. The table shows proper shipping
names in regular type. The shipping paper must
show proper shipping names. Names shown in
italics are not proper shipping names.
Column 3 shows a material's hazard class or division, or the entry "Forbidden." Never transport a
"Forbidden" material. Placard hazardous materials
based on the quantity and hazard class. You can
decide which placards to use if you know these
three things:
 Material's hazard class.
 Amount being shipped.
 Amount of all hazardous materials of all classes on
your vehicle.
Column 4 lists the identification number for each
proper shipping name. Identification numbers are
preceded by the letters "UN" or "NA." The letters
"NA" are associated with proper shipping names
that are only used within the United States and to
and from Canada. The identification number must
appear on the shipping paper as part of the shipping description and also appear on the package.
It also must appear on cargo tanks and other bulk
packaging. Police and firefighters use this number
to quickly identify the hazardous materials.
Column 5 shows the packing group (in Roman
numeral) assigned to a material.
Column 6 shows the hazard warning label(s) shippers must put on packages of hazardous materials.
Some products require use of more than one label
due to a dual hazard being present.
Column 7 lists the additional (special) provisions
that apply to this material. When there is an entry
in this column, you must refer to the federal regulations for specific information. The numbers 1-6 in
this column mean the hazardous material is a poison inhalation hazard (PIH). PIH materials have
special requirements for shipping papers, marking,
and placards.
Column 8 is a three-part column showing the section numbers covering the packaging requirements
for each hazardous material.
Note: Columns 9 and 10 do not apply to transportation by highway.
Appendix A to 49 CFR 172.101. The List of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities.
The DOT and the EPA want to know about spills of
hazardous substances. They are named in the List
of Hazardous Substances and Reportable Quantities. See Figure 10.5. Column 3 of the list shows
each product's reportable quantity (RQ). When
these materials are being transported in a reportable quantity or greater in one package, the shipper displays the letters RQ on the shipping paper
and package. The letters RQ may appear before or
after the basic description. You or your employer
must report any spill of these materials, which occurs in a reportable quantity.
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 5
CDL Driver’s Handbook
If the words INHALATION HAZARD appear on the
shipping paper or package, the rules require display of the POISON INHALATION HAZARD or
POISON GAS placards, as appropriate. These
placards must be used in addition to other placards, which may be required by the product's hazard class. Always display the hazard class placard
and the POISON INHALATION HAZARD placard,
even for small amounts.
Appendix B to 49 CFR 172.101. List of Marine
Pollutants
Appendix B is a listing of chemicals that are toxic
to marine life. For highway transportation, this list
is only used for chemicals in a container with a
capacity of 119 gallons or more without a placard
or label as specified by the HMR.
Any bulk packages of a Marine Pollutant must display the Marine Pollutant marking (white triangle
with a fish and an “X” through the fish). This marking (it is not a placard) must also be displayed on
the outside of the vehicle. In addition, a notation
must be made on the shipping papers near the
description of the material: “Marine Pollutant”.
THE SHIPPING PAPER
The shipping paper shown in Figure 10.6 describes a shipment. A shipping paper for hazardous materials must include:
 Page numbers if the shipping paper has more than
one page. The first page must tell the total number
of pages. For example, "Page 1 of 4".
 A proper shipping description for each hazardous
material.
 A shipper's certification, signed by the shipper, saying they prepared the shipment according to the
rules.
THE ITEM DESCRIPTION
Shipping Paper
TO:
ABC Corp.
88 Valley Street
Anywhere VA
Quantity
HM
1 cylinder
RQ
(“RQ”
means
that this is
a reportable
quantity.)
FROM:
DEF Corp.
Page
55 Mountain St. 1 of 1
Nowhere CO
Description
Weight
Phosgene, 2.3,
UN1076
Poison, Inhalation
Hazard,
Zone A
25 lbs
(Phosgene is the
proper shipping
name from Column 2
of the Hazardous
Materials Table.)
(2.3 is the Hazard
Class from Column 3
of the Hazardous
Materials Table.)
(Un1076 is the Identification Number
from Column 4 of the
Hazardous materials
Table.)
This is to certify that the above named materials are
properly classified, described, packaged marked and
labeled, and are in proper condition for transportation
according to the applicable regulations of the United
States Department of Transportation.
Shipper: DEF CorCarrier:
Safety
Per:
poration
Per:
First
Date:
Smith
Date:
October
15, 2003
Special Instructions: 24 hour Emergency Contact,
John Smith 1-800-555-5555
Figure 10.6
The basic description of hazardous materials includes the proper shipping name, hazard class or
division, the identification number, and the packing
group, if any, in that order. The packing group is
displayed in Roman numerals and may be preceded by "PG".
If a shipping paper describes both hazardous and
non-hazardous products, the hazardous materials
will be either:
Shipping name, hazard class, and identification
number must not be abbreviated unless specifically
authorized in the hazardous materials regulations.
The description must also show:
 Described first.
 The total quantity and unit of measure.
 Highlighted in a contrasting color.
 The letters RQ, if a reportable quantity.
 Identified by an "X" placed before the shipping
name in a column captioned "HM". The letters "RQ"
may be used instead of "X" if a reportable quantity
is present in one package.
 If the letters RQ appear, the name of the hazardous
substance.
 For all materials with the letter “G” (Generic) in Column 1, the technical name of the hazardous material.
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 6
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Shipping papers also must list an emergency response telephone number. The emergency response telephone number is the responsibility of
the shipper. It can be used by emergency responders to obtain information about any hazardous materials involved in a spill or fire. Some hazardous materials do not need a telephone number.
You should check the regulations to determine
which do need a telephone number.
Shippers also must provide emergency response
information to the motor carrier for each hazardous
material being shipped. The emergency response
information must be able to be used away from the
motor vehicle and must provide information on how
to safely handle incidents involving the material. It
must include information on the shipping name of
the hazardous materials, risks to health, fire, explosion, and initial methods of handling spills, fires,
and leaks of the materials.
Such information can be on the shipping paper or
some other document that includes the basic description and technical name of the hazardous material. Or, it may be in a guidance book such as the
Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG). Motor
carriers may assist shippers by keeping an ERG
on each vehicle carrying hazardous materials. The
driver must provide the emergency response information to any federal, state, or local authority
responding to a hazardous materials incident or
investigating one.
Total quantity must appear before or after the basic
description. The packaging type and the unit of
measurement may be abbreviated. For example:
10 ctns. Paint, 3, UN1263, PG II, 500 lbs.
The shipper of hazardous wastes must put the
word WASTE before the proper shipping name of
the material on the shipping paper (hazardous
waste manifest). For example:
Waste Acetone, 3, UN1090, PG II.
A non-hazardous material may not be described by
using a hazard class or an identification number.
SHIPPER'S CERTIFICATION
When the shipper packages hazardous materials,
he/she certifies that the package has been prepared according to the regulations. The signed
shipper's certification appears on the original shipping paper. The only exceptions are when a shipper is a private carrier transporting their own product and when the package is provided by the
carrier (for example, a cargo tank). Unless a pack-
age is clearly unsafe or does not comply with the
HMR, you may accept the shipper's certification
concerning proper packaging. Some carriers have
additional rules about transporting hazardous materials. Follow your employer's rules when accepting shipments.
PACKAGE MARKINGS AND LABELS
Shippers print required markings directly on the
package, an attached label, or tag. An important
package marking is the name of the hazardous
materials. It is the same name as the one on the
shipping paper. The requirements for marking vary
by package size and material being transported.
When required, the shipper will put the following on
the package:
 The name and address of shipper or consignee.
 The hazardous material's shipping name and identification number.
 The labels required.
It is a good idea to compare the shipping paper to
the markings and labels. Always make sure that
the shipper shows the correct basic description on
the shipping paper and verifies that the proper labels are shown on the packages. If you are not
familiar with the material, ask the shipper to contact your office.
If rules require it, the shipper will put RQ, MARINE
POLLUTANT,
BIOHAZARD,
HOT,
or
INHALATION-HAZARD on the package. Packages
with liquid containers inside will also have package
orientation markings with the arrows pointing in the
correct upright direction. The labels used always
reflect the hazard class of the product. If a package
needs more than one label, the labels must be
close together, near the proper shipping name.
RECOGNIZING HAZARDOUS MATERIALS
Learn to recognize shipments of hazardous materials. To find out if the shipment includes hazardous materials, look at the shipping paper. Does it
have:
 An entry with a proper shipping name, hazard
class, and identification number?
 A highlighted entry, or one with an X or RQ in the
hazardous materials column?
Other clues suggesting hazardous materials:
 What business is the shipper in? Paint dealer?
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 7
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Chemical supply? Scientific supply house? Pest
control or agricultural supplier? Explosives, munitions, or fireworks dealer?
 The front placard may be on the front of the tractor
or the front of the trailer.
 Are there tanks with diamond labels or placards on
the premises?
To decide which placards to use, you need to
know:
 What type of package is being shipped? Cylinders
and drums are often used for hazardous materials
shipments.
 The hazard class of the materials.
 Is a hazard class label, proper shipping name, or
identification number on the package?
 Are there any handling precautions?
HAZARDOUS WASTE MANIFEST
When transporting hazardous wastes, you must
sign by hand and carry a Uniform Hazardous
Waste Manifest. The name and EPA registration
number of the shippers, carriers, and destination
must appear on the manifest. Shippers must prepare, date, and sign by hand the manifest. Treat
the manifest as a shipping paper when transporting the waste. Only give the waste shipment to
another registered carrier or disposal/treatment
facility. Each carrier transporting the shipment
must sign by hand the manifest. After you deliver
the shipment, keep your copy of the manifest.
Each copy must have all needed signatures and
dates, including those of the person to whom you
delivered the waste.
PLACARDING
Attach the appropriate placards to the vehicle before you drive it. You are only allowed to move an
improperly placarded vehicle during an emergency,
in order to protect life or property.
 The amount of hazardous materials shipped.
 The total weight of all classes of hazardous materials in your vehicle.
PLACARD TABLES
There are two placard tables, Table 1 and Table 2.
Table 1 materials must be placarded whenever any
amount is transported. See Figure 10.7.
Placard Table 1
Any Amount
IF YOUR VEHICLE CONTAINS
ANY AMOUNT OF…
1.1 Mass Explosives
1.2 Project Hazards
1.3 Mass Fire Hazards
2.3 Poisonous/Toxic Gases
4.3 Dangerous When Wet
5.2 (Organic Peroxide, Type B,
liquid or solid, Temperature
controlled)
6.1 (Inhalation hazard zone A
& B only)
7 (Radioactive Yellow III label
only)
PLACARD AS…
Explosives 1.1
Explosives 1.2
Explosives 1.3
Poison Gas
Dangerous
When Wet
Organic
Peroxide
Poison
Radioactive
Figure 10.7
Placards must appear on both sides and both ends
of the vehicle. Each placard must be:
 Easily seen from the direction it faces.
 Placed so the words or numbers are level and read
from left to right.
 At least three inches away from any other markings.
 Kept clear of attachments or devices such as ladders, doors, and tarpaulins.
 Kept clean and undamaged so that the color, format, and message are easily seen.
Except for bulk packaging, the hazard classes in
Table 2 need placards only if the total amount
transported is 1,001 pounds or more including the
package. Add the amounts from all shipping papers for all the Table 2 products you have on
board. See Figure 10.8.
You may use DANGEROUS placards instead of
separate placards for each Table 2 hazard class
when:
 Be affixed to a background of contrasting color.
 You have 1,001 pounds or more of two or more
Table 2 hazard classes, requiring different placards,
and,
 The use of “Drive Safely” and other slogans is prohibited.
 You have not loaded 2,205 pounds or more of any
Table 2 hazard class material at any one place.
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 8
CDL Driver’s Handbook
(You must use the specific placard for this material.)
 The dangerous placard is an option, not a requirement. You can always placard for the materials.
Placard Table 2
1,001 Pounds or More
Category of Material (Hazard
class or division number and
additional description, as
appropriate)
1.4 Minor Explosion
1.5 Very Insensitive
1.6 Extremely Insensitive
2.1 Flammable Gases
2.2 Non- Flammable Gases
3 Flammable Liquids
Combustible Liquid
4.1 Flammable Solids
4.2 Spontaneously
Combustible
5.1 Oxidizers
5.2 (other than organic
peroxide, Type B, liquid or
solid, Temperature
Controlled)
6.1 (other than inhalation
hazard zone A or B)
Placard Name
Explosives 1.4
Explosives 1.5
Explosives 1.6
Flammable Gas
Non-Flammable
Gas.
Flammable
Combustible*
Flammable Solid
Spontaneously
Combustible
Oxidizer
Organic Peroxide
Poison
6.2 Infectious Substances
(None)
8 Corrosives
Corrosive
9 Miscellaneous Hazardous
Class 9**
Materials
ORM-D
(None)
* FLAMMABLE may be used in place of a
COMBUSTIBLE on a cargo tank or portable tank.
** Class 9 Placard is not required for domestic transportation.
Figure 10.8
Placards used to identify the primary or subsidiary
hazard class of a material must have the hazard
class or division number displayed in the lower
corner of the placard. Permanently affixed subsidiary hazard placards without the hazard class number may be used as long as they stay within color
specifications.
Placards may be displayed for hazardous materials
even if not required so long as the placard identifies the hazard of the material being transported.
A bulk packaging is a single container with a capacity of 119 gallons or more. A bulk package, and
a vehicle transporting a bulk package, must be
placarded, even if it only has the residue of a hazardous material. Certain bulk packages only have
to be placarded on the two opposite sides or may
display labels. All other bulk packages must be
placarded on all four sides.
Subsections 10.1, 10.2, and 10.3
Test Your Knowledge
1. Shippers package in order to (fill in the blank)
the material.
2. Driver placard their vehicle to (fill in the blank)
the risk.
3. What three things do you need to know to decide which placards (if any) you need?
4. A hazardous materials identification number
must appear on the (fill in the blank) and on the
(fill in the blank). The identification number must
also appear on cargo tanks and other bulk
packaging.
5. Where must you keep shipping papers describing hazardous materials?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsections 10.1, 10.2
and 10.3.
If the words INHALATION HAZARD are on the
shipping paper or package, you must display
POISON GAS or POISON INHALATION placards
in addition to any other placards needed by the
product's hazard class. The 1,000 pound exception
does not apply to these materials.
Materials with a secondary hazard of dangerous
when wet must display the DANGEROUS WHEN
WET placard in addition to any other placards
needed by the product’s hazard class. The 1,000pound exception to placarding does not apply to
these materials.
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 9
CDL Driver’s Handbook
10.4 – Loading and Unloading
Do all you can to protect containers of hazardous
materials. Don't use any tools, which might damage containers or other packaging during loading.
Don't use hooks.
GENERAL LOADING REQUIREMENTS
Before loading or unloading, set the parking brake.
Make sure the vehicle will not move.
Many products become more hazardous when exposed to heat. Load hazardous materials away
from heat sources.
Watch for signs of leaking or damaged containers:
LEAKS SPELL TROUBLE! Do not transport leaking
packages. Depending on the material, you, your
truck, and others could be in danger. It is illegal to
move a vehicle with leaking hazardous materials.
Containers of Class 1 (explosives), Class 3 (flammable liquids), Class 4 (flammable solids), Class 5
(oxidizers), Class 8 (corrosives), Class 2 (gases),
Division 6.1 (poisons), and Class 7 (radioactive)
must be braced to prevent movement of the packages during transportation.
No Smoking. When loading or unloading hazardous materials, keep fire away. Don't let people
smoke nearby. Never smoke around hazardous
materials.
Secure Against Movement. Brace containers so
they will not fall, slide, or bounce around during
transportation. Be very careful when loading containers that have valves or other fittings. All hazardous materials packages must be secured during
transportation.
After loading, do not open any package during
your trip. Never transfer hazardous materials from
one package to another while in transit. You may
empty a cargo tank, but do not empty any other
package while it is on the vehicle.
Cargo Heater Rules. There are special cargo
heater rules for loading:
don't load the above products in a cargo space that
has a heater.
Use Closed Cargo Space. You cannot have
overhang or tailgate loads of:
 Class 1 (Explosives)
 Class 4 (Flammable Solids)
 Class 5 (Oxidizers)
You must load these hazardous materials into a
closed cargo space unless all packages are:
 Fire and water-resistant.
 Covered with a fire and water resistant tarp.
Precautions for Specific Hazards
Class 1 (Explosives) Materials. Turn your engine
off before loading or unloading any explosives.
Then check the cargo space. You must:
 Disable cargo heaters. Disconnect heater power
sources and drain heater fuel tanks.
 Make sure there are no sharp points that might
damage cargo. Look for bolts, screws, nails, broken
side panels, and broken floorboards.
 Use a floor lining with Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3. The
floors must be tight and the liner must be either
non-metallic material or non-ferrous metal.
Use extra care to protect explosives. Never use
hooks or other metal tools. Never drop, throw, or
roll packages. Protect explosive packages from
other cargo that might cause damage.
Do not transfer a Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 from one
vehicle to another on a public roadway except in
an emergency. If safety requires an emergency
transfer, set out red warning reflectors, flags, or
electric lanterns. You must warn others on the
road.
Never transport damaged packages of explosives.
Do not take a package that shows any dampness
or oily stain.
Do not transport Division 1.1 or 1.2 in vehicle combinations if:
 Class 1 (Explosives)
 Class 2.1 (Flammable Gas )
 There is a marked or placarded cargo tank in the
combination.
 Class 3 (Flammable Liquids)
The rules usually forbid use of cargo heaters, including automatic cargo heater/air conditioner
units. Unless you have read all the related rules,
 The other vehicle in the combination contains:
 Division 1.1 A (Initiating Explosives).
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
Page 10 - 10
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Packages of Class 7 (Radioactive) materials labeled "Yellow III."
to hold cylinders, the cargo space floor must be
flat. The cylinders must be:
 Division 2.3 (Poisonous Gas) or Division 6.1
(Poisonous) materials.
 Held upright.
 Hazardous materials in a portable tank, on a
DOT Spec 106A or 110A tank.
Class 4 (Flammable Solids) and Class 5 (Oxidizers) Materials. Class 4 materials are solids that
react (including fire and explosion) to water, heat,
and air or even react spontaneously.
Class 4 and 5 materials must be completely enclosed in a vehicle or covered securely. Class 4
and 5 materials, which become unstable and dangerous when wet, must be kept dry while in transit
and during loading and unloading. Materials that
are subject to spontaneous combustion or heating
must be in vehicles with sufficient ventilation.
Class 8 (Corrosive) Materials. If loading by hand,
load breakable containers of corrosive liquid one
by one. Keep them right side up. Do not drop or roll
the containers. Load them onto an even floor surface. Stack carboys only if the lower tiers can bear
the weight of the upper tiers safely.
Do not load nitric acid above any other product.
Load charged storage batteries so their liquid won't
spill. Keep them right side up. Make sure other
cargo won't fall against or short circuit them.
Never load corrosive liquids next to or above:
 Division 1.4 (Explosives C).
 Division 4.1 (Flammable Solids).
 Division 4.3 (Dangerous When Wet).
 Class 5 (Oxidizers).
 In racks attached to the vehicle or in boxes that will
keep them from turning over.
Cylinders may be loaded in a horizontal position
(lying down) if it is designed so the relief valve is in
the vapor space.
Division 2.3 (Poisonous Gas) or Division 6.1
(Poisonous) Materials. Never transport these materials in containers with interconnections. Never
load a package labeled POISON or POISON
INHALATION HAZARD in the driver's cab or
sleeper or with food material for human or animal
consumption. There are special rules for loading
and unloading Class 2 materials in cargo tanks.
You must have special training to do this.
Class 7 (Radioactive) Materials. Some packages
of Class 7 (Radioactive) materials bear a number
called the "transport index." The shipper labels
these packages Radioactive II or Radioactive III,
and prints the package's transport index on the
label. Radiation surrounds each package, passing
through all nearby packages. To deal with this
problem, the number of packages you can load
together is controlled. Their closeness to people,
animals, and unexposed film is also controlled. The
transport index tells the degree of control needed
during transportation. The total transport index of
all packages in a single vehicle must not exceed
50.Table A to this section shows rules for each
transport index. It shows how close you can load
Class 7 (Radioactive) materials to people, animals,
or film. For example, you can't leave a package
with a transport index of 1.1 within two feet of people or cargo space walls.
 Division 2.3, Zone B (Poisonous Gases).
Never load corrosive liquids with:
 Division 1.1 or 1.2 (Explosives A).
 Division 1.2 or 1.3 (Explosives B).
 Division 1.5 (Blasting Agents).
 Division 2.3, Zone A (Poisonous Gases).
 Division 4.2 (Spontaneously Combustible Materials).
 Division 6.1, PGI, Zone A (Poison Liquids).
Class 2 (Compressed Gases) Including Cryogenic Liquids. If your vehicle doesn't have racks
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
Do Not Load Table
Do Not Load
Division 6.1 or 2.3
(POISON or poison
inhalation hazard
labeled material).
Division 2.3 (Poisonous) gas Zone A or
Division 6.1 (Poison)
liquids, PGI, Zone A.
Charged storage
batteries.
Class 1 (Detonating
primers).
Division 6.1 (Cyanides or cyanide mixtures).
Nitric acid (Class 8).
In The Same Vehicle With
Animal or human food unless the
poison package is over packed in
an approved way. Foodstuffs are
anything you swallow. However,
mouthwash, toothpaste, and skin
creams are not foodstuff.
Division 5.1 (Oxidizers), Class 3
(Flammable Liquids), Class 8 (Corrosive Liquids), Division 5.2 (Organic Peroxides),
Division 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 (Class A or
B) Explosives,
Division 1.5 (Blasting Agents),
Division 2.1 (Flammable Gases),
Class 4 (Flammable Solids).
Division 1.1 (Class A Explosives).
Any other explosives unless in
authorized containers or packages.
Acids, corrosive materials, or other
acidic materials which could release hydrocyanic acid .
For Example:
Cyanides, Inorganic, n.o.s.
Silver Cyanide
Sodium Cyanide.
Other materials unless the nitric
acid is not loaded above any other
material.
Figure 10.9
Mixed Loads. The rules require some products to
be loaded separately. You cannot load them together in the same cargo space. Figure 10.9 lists
some examples. The regulation’s tables for hazardous materials name other materials you must
keep apart.
Subsection 10.4
Test Your Knowledge
1. Around which hazard classes must you never
smoke?
2. Which three hazard classes should not be
loaded into a trailer that has a heater/air conditioner unit?
3. Should the floor liner required for Division 1.1
or 1.2 materials be stainless steel?
4. At the shipper’s dock you’re given a paper for
100 cartons of battery acid. You already have
100 pounds of dry Silver Cyanide on board.
What precautions do you have to take?
5. Name a hazard class that uses transport indexes to determine the amount that can be
loaded in a single vehicle.
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsection 10.4.
10.5 – Bulk Packaging Marking,
Loading and Unloading
The glossary at the end of this section gives the
meaning of the word bulk. Cargo tanks are bulk
packaging permanently attached to a vehicle.
Cargo tanks remain on the vehicle when you load
and unload them. Portable tanks are bulk packaging, which are not permanently attached to a vehicle. The product is loaded or unloaded while the
portable tanks are off the vehicle. Portable tanks
are then put on a vehicle for transportation. There
are many types of cargo tanks in use. The most
common cargo tanks are MC306 for liquids and
MC331 for gases.
MARKINGS
You must display the identification number of the
hazardous materials in portable tanks and cargo
tanks and other bulk packaging (such as dump
trucks). Identification numbers are in column 4 of
the Hazardous Materials Table. The rules require
black 100 mm (3.9 inch) numbers on orange panels, placards, or a white, diamond-shaped background if no placards are required. Specification
cargo tanks must show re-test date markings.
Portable tanks must also show the lessee or
owner's name. They must also display the shipping
name of the contents on two opposing sides. The
letters of the shipping name must be at least two
inches tall on portable tanks with capacities of
more than 1,000 gallons and one-inch tall on portable tanks with capacities of less than 1,000 gallons. The identification number must appear on
each side and each end of a portable tank or other
bulk packaging that hold 1,000 gallons or more
and on two opposing sides, if the portable tank
holds less than 1,000 gallons. The identification
numbers must still be visible when the portable
tank is on the motor vehicle. If they are not visible,
you must display the identification number on both
sides and ends of the motor vehicle.
Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) are bulk packages, but are not required to have the owner’s
name or shipping name.
TANK LOADING
The person in charge of loading and unloading a
cargo tank must be sure a qualified person is always watching. This person watching the loading
or unloading must:
 Be alert.
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Have a clear view of the cargo tank.
 Be within 25 feet of the tank.
 Know of the hazards of the materials involved.
 Know the procedures to follow in an emergency.
 Be authorized and be able to move the cargo tank.
There are special attendance rules for cargo tanks
transporting propane and anhydrous ammonia.
Close all manholes and valves before moving a
tank of hazardous materials, no matter how small
the amount in the tank or how short the distance.
Manholes and valves must be closed to prevent
leaks. It is illegal to move a cargo tank with open
valves or covers unless it is empty according to 49
CFR 173.29.
FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS
Turn off your engine before loading or unloading
any flammable liquids. Only run the engine if
needed to operate a pump. Ground a cargo tank
correctly before filling it through an open filling
hole. Ground the tank before opening the filling
hole, and maintain the ground until after closing
the filling hole.
COMPRESSED GAS
Keep liquid discharge valves on a compressed gas
tank closed except when loading and unloading.
Unless your engine runs a pump for product transfer, turn it off when loading or unloading. If you use
the engine, turn it off after product transfer, before
you unhook the hose. Unhook all loading/unloading connections before coupling, uncoupling, or moving a cargo tank. Always chock trailers and semi-trailers to prevent motion when
uncoupled from the power unit.
Subsection 10.5
Test Your Knowledge
1. What are cargo tanks?
2. How is a portable tank different from a cargo
tank?
3. Your engine runs a pump used during delivery
of compressed gas. Should you turn off the engine before or after unhooking hoses after delivery?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsection 10.5.
10.6 – Hazardous Materials — Driving
and Parking Rules
PARKING WITH DIVISION 1.1, 1.2, OR 1.3
EXPLOSIVES
Never park with Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives
within five feet of the traveled part of the road. Except for short periods of time needed for vehicle
operation necessities (e.g., fueling), do not park
within 300 feet of:
 A bridge, tunnel, or building.
 A place where people gather.
 An open fire.
If you must park to do your job, do so only briefly.
Don't park on private property unless the owner is
aware of the danger. Someone must always watch
the parked vehicle. You may let someone else
watch it for you only if your vehicle is:
 On the shipper's property.
 On the carrier's property.
 On the consignee's property.
You are allowed to leave your vehicle unattended
in a safe haven. A safe haven is an approved
place for parking unattended vehicles loaded with
explosives. Designation of authorized safe havens
is usually made by local authorities.
PARKING A PLACARDED VEHICLE NOT
TRANSPORTING DIVISION 1.1, 1.2, OR 1.3
(CLASS A OR B) EXPLOSIVES
You may park a placarded vehicle (not laden with
explosives) within five feet of the traveled part of
the road only if your work requires it. Do so only
briefly. Someone must always watch the vehicle
when parked on a public roadway or shoulder. Do
not uncouple a trailer and leave it with hazardous
materials on a public street. Do not park within 300
feet of an open fire.
ATTENDING PARKED VEHICLES
The person attending a placarded vehicle must:
 Be in the vehicle, awake, and not in the sleeper
berth, or within 100 feet of the vehicle and have it
within clear view.
 Be aware of the hazards of the materials being
transported.
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Page 10 - 13
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Know what to do in emergencies.
NO SMOKING
 Be able to move the vehicle, if needed.
NO FLARES!
You might break down and have to use stopped
vehicle signals. Use reflective triangles or red electric lights. Never use burning signals, such as
flares or fuses, around a:
Do not smoke within 25 feet of a placarded cargo
tank used for Class 3 (flammable liquids) or Division 2.1 (gases). Also, do not smoke or carry a
lighted cigarette, cigar, or pipe within 25 feet of any
vehicle, which contains:
 Class 1 (Explosives)
 Class 3 Flammable Liquids)
 Tank used for Class 3 (Flammable Liquids) or Division 2.1 (Flammable Gas) whether loaded or
empty.
 Class 4 (Flammable Solids)
 Vehicle loaded with Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 Explosives.
REFUEL WITH ENGINE OFF
 Class 4.2 (Spontaneously Combustible)
Turn off your engine before fueling a motor vehicle
containing hazardous materials. Someone must
always be at the nozzle, controlling fuel flow.
ROUTE RESTRICTIONS
Some states and counties require permits to transport hazardous materials or wastes. They may limit
the routes you can use. Local rules about routes
and permits change often. It is your job as driver to
find out if you need permits or must use special
routes. Make sure you have all needed papers before starting.
10 B:C FIRE EXTINGUISHER
The power unit of placarded vehicles must have a fire
extinguisher with a UL rating of 10 B:C or more.
CHECK TIRES
If you work for a carrier, ask your dispatcher about
route restrictions or permits. If you are an independent trucker and are planning a new route,
check with state agencies where you plan to travel.
Some localities prohibit transportation of hazardous materials through tunnels, over bridges, or
other roadways. Always check before you start.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Check
placarded vehicles with dual tires at the start of
each trip and when you park. You must check the
tires each time you stop. The only acceptable way
to check tire pressure is to use a tire pressure
gauge.
Whenever placarded, avoid heavily populated areas, crowds, tunnels, narrow streets, and alleys.
Take other routes, even if inconvenient, unless
there is no other way. Never drive a placarded vehicle near open fires unless you can safely pass
without stopping.
Do not drive with a tire that is leaking or flat except
to the nearest safe place to fix it. Remove any
overheated tire. Place it a safe distance from your
vehicle. Don't drive until you correct the cause of
the overheating. Remember to follow the rules
about parking and attending placarded vehicles.
They apply even when checking, repairing, or replacing tires.
If transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives,
you must have a written route plan and follow that
plan. Carriers prepare the route plan in advance
and give the driver a copy. You may plan the route
yourself if you pick up the explosives at a location
other than your employer's terminal. Write out the
plan in advance. Keep a copy of it with you while
transporting the explosives. Deliver shipments of
explosives only to authorized persons or leave
them in locked rooms designed for explosives
storage.
A carrier must choose the safest route to transport
placarded radioactive materials. After choosing the
route, the carrier must tell the driver about the radioactive materials, and show the route plan.
WHERE TO KEEP SHIPPING PAPERS AND
EMERGENCY RESPONSE INFORMATION
Do not accept a hazardous materials shipment
without a properly prepared shipping paper. A
shipping paper for hazardous materials must always be easily recognized. Other people must be
able to find it quickly after a crash.
 Clearly distinguish hazardous materials shipping
papers from others by tabbing them or keeping
them on top of the stack of papers.
 When you are behind the wheel, keep shipping
papers within your reach (with your seat belt on), or
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
in a pouch on the driver's door. They must be easily
seen by someone entering the cab.
 When not behind the wheel, leave shipping papers
in the driver's door pouch or on the driver's seat.
 Emergency response information must be kept in
the same location as the shipping paper.
 Papers for Division 1.1, 1.2 or, 1.3 explosives.
A carrier must give each driver transporting Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 explosives a copy of Federal
Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), Part
397. The carrier must also give written instructions
on what to do if delayed or in an accident. The written instructions must include:
 The names and telephone numbers of people to
contact (including carrier agents or shippers).
 The nature of the explosives transported.
 The precautions to take in emergencies such as
fires, accidents, or leaks.
Drivers must sign a receipt for these documents.
You must be familiar with, and have in your possession while driving, the:
10.7 – Hazardous Materials:
Emergencies
EMERGENCY RESPONSE GUIDEBOOK (ERG)
The Department of Transportation has a guidebook for firefighters, police, and industry workers
on how to protect themselves and the public from
hazardous materials. The guide is indexed by
proper shipping name and hazardous materials
identification number. Emergency personnel look
for these things on the shipping paper. That is why
it is vital that the proper shipping name, identification number, label, and placards are correct.
CRASHES/INCIDENTS
As a professional driver, your job at the scene of a
crash or incident is to:
 Keep people away from the scene.
 Limit the spread of material, only if you can safely
do so.
 Communicate the danger of the hazardous materials to emergency response personnel.
 Provide emergency responders with the shipping
papers and emergency response information.
 Shipping papers.
 Written emergency instructions.
 Written route plan.
Follow this checklist:
 A copy of FMCSR, Part 397.
 Check to see that your driving partner is OK.
 Keep shipping papers with you.
EQUIPMENT FOR CHLORINE
 Keep people far away and upwind.
A driver transporting chlorine in cargo tanks must
have an approved gas mask in the vehicle. The
driver must also have an emergency kit for controlling leaks in dome cover plate fittings on the cargo
tank.
 Warn others of the danger.
STOP BEFORE RAILROAD CROSSINGS
FIRES
Stop before a railroad crossing if your vehicle:
You might have to control minor truck fires on the
road. However, unless you have the training and
equipment to do so safely, don't fight hazardous
materials fires. Dealing with hazardous materials
fires requires special training and protective gear.
 Is placarded.
 Carries any amount of chlorine.
 Has cargo tanks, whether loaded or empty used for
hazardous materials.
You must stop 15 to 50 feet before the nearest rail.
Proceed only when you are sure no train is coming. Don't shift gears while crossing the tracks.
 Call for help.
 Follow your employer's instructions.
When you discover a fire, call for help. You may
use the fire extinguisher to keep minor truck fires
from spreading to cargo before firefighters arrive.
Feel trailer doors to see if they are hot before
opening them. If hot, you may have a cargo fire
and should not open the doors. Opening doors lets
air in and may make the fire flare up. Without air,
many fires only smolder until firemen arrive, doing
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
less damage. If your cargo is already on fire, it is
not safe to fight the fire. Keep the shipping papers
with you to give to emergency personnel as soon
as they arrive. Warn other people of the danger
and keep them away.
If you discover a cargo leak, identify the hazardous
materials leaking by using shipping papers, labels,
or package location. Do not touch any leaking material—many people injure themselves by touching
hazardous materials. Do not try to identify the material or find the source of a leak by smell. Toxic
gases can destroy your sense of smell and can
injure or kill you even if they don't smell. Never eat,
drink, or smoke around a leak or spill.
If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle, do not move it any more than safety requires.
You may move off the road and away from places
where people gather, if doing so serves safety.
Only move your vehicle if you can do so without
danger to yourself or others.
Never continue driving with hazardous materials
leaking from your vehicle in order to find a phone
booth, truck stop, help, or similar reason. Remember, the carrier pays for the cleanup of contaminated parking lots, roadways, and drainage
ditches. The costs are enormous, so don't leave a
lengthy trail of contamination. If hazardous materials are spilling from your vehicle:
 Park it.
 Secure the area.
 Stay there.
 Send someone else for help.
When sending someone for help, give that person:
 A description of the emergency.
 Your exact location and direction of travel.
 Your name, the carrier's name, and the name of the
community or city where your terminal is located.
 The proper shipping name, hazard class, and identification number of the hazardous materials, if you
know them.
This is a lot for someone to remember. It is a good
idea to write it all down for the person you send for
help. The emergency response team must know
these things to find you and to handle the emergency. They may have to travel miles to get to you.
This information will help them to bring the right
equipment the first time, without having to go back
for it.
Never move your vehicle, if doing so will cause
contamination or damage the vehicle. Keep upwind and away from roadside rests, truck stops,
cafes, and businesses. Never try to repack leaking
containers. Unless you have the training and
equipment to repair leaks safely, don't try it. Call
your dispatcher or supervisor for instructions and, if
needed, emergency personnel.
RESPONSES TO SPECIFIC HAZARDS
Class 1 (Explosives). If your vehicle has a breakdown or accident while carrying explosives, warn
others of the danger. Keep bystanders away. Do
not allow smoking or open fire near the vehicle. If
there is a fire, warn everyone of the danger of explosion.
Remove all explosives before separating vehicles
involved in a collision. Place the explosives at least
200 feet from the vehicles and occupied buildings.
Stay a safe distance away.
Class 2 (Compressed Gases). If compressed gas
is leaking from your vehicle, warn others of the
danger. Only permit those involved in removing the
hazard or wreckage to get close. You must notify
the shipper if compressed gas is involved in any
accident.
Unless you are fueling machinery used in road
construction or maintenance, do not transfer a
flammable compressed gas from one tank to another on any public roadway.
Class 3 (Flammable Liquids). If you are transporting a flammable liquid and have an accident or
your vehicle breaks down, prevent bystanders from
gathering. Warn people of the danger. Keep them
from smoking.
Never transport a leaking cargo tank farther than
needed to reach a safe place. Get off the roadway
if you can do so safely. Don't transfer flammable
liquid from one vehicle to another on a public
roadway except in an emergency.
Class 4 (Flammable Solids) and Class 5 (Oxidizing Materials). If a flammable solid or oxidizing
material spills, warn others of the fire hazard. Do
not open smoldering packages of flammable solids. Remove them from the vehicle if you can
safely do so. Also, remove unbroken packages if it
will decrease the fire hazard.
Class 6 (Poisonous Materials and Infectious
Substances). It is your job to protect yourself,
other people, and property from harm. Remember
that many products classed as poison are also
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
flammable. If you think a Division 2.3 (Poison
Gases) or Division 6.1 (Poison Materials) might be
flammable, take the added precautions needed for
flammable liquids or gases. Do not allow smoking,
open flame, or welding. Warn others of the hazards
of fire, of inhaling vapors, or coming in contact with
the poison.
A vehicle involved in a leak of Division 2.3 (Poison
Gases) or Division 6.1 (Poisons) must be checked
for stray poison before being used again.
If a Division 6.2 (Infectious Substances) package is
damaged in handling or transportation, you should
immediately contact your supervisor. Packages
that appear to be damaged or show signs of leakage should not be accepted.
Class 7 (Radioactive Materials). If radioactive
material is involved in a leak or broken package,
tell your dispatcher or supervisor as soon as possible. If there is a spill, or if an internal container
might be damaged, do not touch or inhale the material. Do not use the vehicle until it is cleaned and
checked with a survey meter.
Class 8 (Corrosive Materials). If corrosives spill
or leak during transportation, be careful to avoid
further damage or injury when handling the containers. Parts of the vehicle exposed to a corrosive
liquid must be thoroughly washed with water. After
unloading, wash out the interior as soon as possible before reloading.
If continuing to transport a leaking tank would be
unsafe, get off the road. If safe to do so, contain
any liquid leaking from the vehicle. Keep bystanders away from the liquid and its fumes. Do everything possible to prevent injury to yourself and to
others.
REQUIRED NOTIFICATION
 One or more major transportation arteries or facilities are closed for one hour or more.
 Fire, breakage, spillage, or suspected radioactive
contamination occurs.
 Fire, breakage, spillage or suspected contamination
occur involving shipment of etiologic agents (bacteria or toxins).
 A situation exists of such a nature (e.g., continuing
danger to life exists at the scene of an incident)
that, in the judgment of the carrier, should be reported.
National Response Center, (800) 424-8802
Persons telephoning the National Response Center should be ready to give:
 Their name.
 Name and address of the carrier they work for.
 Phone number where they can be reached.
 Date, time, and location of incident.
 The extent of injuries, if any.
 Classification, name, and quantity of hazardous
materials involved, if such information is available.
 Type of incident and nature of hazardous materials
involvement and whether a continuing danger to life
exists at the scene.
If a reportable quantity of hazardous substance
was involved, the caller should give the name of
the shipper and the quantity of the hazardous substance discharged.
Be prepared to give your employer the required
information as well. Carriers must make detailed
written reports within 30 days of an incident.
CHEMTREC, (800) 424-9300
The National Response Center helps coordinate
emergency response to chemical hazards. It is a
resource to the police and firefighters. It maintains
a 24-hour toll-free line. You or your employer must
phone when any of the following occur as a direct
result of a hazardous materials incident listed below:
 A person is killed.
 An injured person requires hospitalization.
 Estimated property damage exceeds $50,000.
 The general public is evacuated for more than one
hour.
The Chemical Transportation Emergency Center
(CHEMTREC) in Washington also has a 24-hour
toll-free line. CHEMTREC was created to provide
emergency personnel with technical information
about the physical properties of hazardous materials. The National Response Center and
CHEMTREC are in close communication. If you
call either one, they will tell the other about the
problem when appropriate.
Do not leave radioactive yellow-II or yellow-III labeled packages near people, animals, or film
longer than shown in Figure 10.10.
Section 10 – Hazardous Materials
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
Total Transport
Index
Minimum Distance In Feet To Nearest
Undeveloped Film
4–8
Hrs.
8–12
Hrs.
Over
12
Hrs.
To People Or
Cargo Compartment Partitions
Radioactive Separation. Table A
0–2
Hrs.
2–4
Hrs.
None
0
0
0
0
0
0
0.1 to 1.0
1
2
3
4
5
1
1.1 to 5.0
3
4
6
8
11
2
5.1 to 10.0
10.1 to
20.0
20.1 to
30.0
30.1 to
40.0
40.1 to
50.0
4
6
9
11
15
3
5
8
12
16
22
4
7
10
15
20
29
5
8
11
17
22
33
6
9
12
19
24
36
Figure 10.10
3. How close to the traveled part of the roadway
can you park with Division 1.2 or 1.3 materials?
4. How close can you park to a bridge, tunnel, or
building with the same load?
5. What type of fire extinguisher must placarded
vehicles carry?
6. You’re hauling 100 pounds of Division 4.3
(dangerous when wet) materials. Do you need
to stop before a railroad-highway crossing?
7. At a rest area you discover your hazardous
materials shipments slowly leaking from the
vehicle. There is no phone around. What
should you do?
8. What is the Emergency Response Guide
(ERG)?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t
answer them all, re-read subsections 10.6 and
10.7.
Classes of Hazardous Materials
10.8 – Hazardous Materials Glossary
Hazardous materials are categorized into nine major hazard classes and additional categories for
consumer commodities and combustible liquids.
The classes of hazardous materials are listed in
Figure 10.11.
This glossary presents definitions of certain terms
used in this section. A complete glossary of terms
can be found in the federal Hazardous Materials
Rules (49 CFR 171.8). You should have an up-todate copy of these rules for your reference.
Hazard Class Definitions. Table B
Class
Class Name
1
Explosives
2
Gases
3
Flammable
4
Flammable Solids
5
Oxidizers
6
7
Poisons
Radioactive
8
Corrosives
9
None
None
Miscellaneous Hazardous
Materials
ORM-D (Other Regulated
Material-Domestic)
Combustible Liquids
Example
Ammunition,
Dynamite, Fireworks
Propane, Oxygen,
Helium
Gasoline Fuel,
Acetone
Matches, Fuses
Ammonium Nitrate,
Hydrogen Peroxide
Pesticides, Arsenic
Uranium, Plutonium
Hydrochloric Acid,
Battery Acid
Formaldehyde,
Asbestos
Hair Spray or Charcoal
Fuel Oils, Lighter Fluid
Figure 10.11
(Note: You will not be tested on this glossary.)
Sec. 171.8 Definitions and abbreviations.
Bulk packaging. Packaging, other than a vessel,
or a barge, including a transport vehicle or freight
container, in which hazardous materials are loaded
with no intermediate form of containment and
which has:
 A maximum capacity greater than 450 L (119 gallons) as a receptacle for a liquid;
 A maximum net mass greater than 400 kg (882
pounds) or a maximum capacity greater than 450 L
(119 gallons) as a receptacle for a solid; or
 A water capacity greater than 454 kg (1000
pounds) as a receptacle for a gas as defined in
Sec. 173.115.
Cargo tank. A bulk packaging which:
Subsections 10.6 and 10.7
Test Your Knowledge
1. If your placarded trailer has dual tires, how often should you check the tires?
2. What is a safe haven?
 Is a tank intended primarily for the carriage of liquids or gases and includes appurtenances, reinforcements, fittings, and closures (for "tank", see 49
CFR 178.345-1(c), 178.337-1, or 178.338-1, as applicable);
 Is permanently attached to or forms a part of a mo-
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
tor vehicle, or is not permanently attached to a motor vehicle but which, by reason of its size, construction, or attachment to a motor vehicle is loaded
or unloaded without being removed from the motor
vehicle; and
 Is not fabricated under a specification for cylinders,
portable tanks, tank cars, or multi-unit tank car
tanks.
Carrier. A person engaged in the transportation of
passengers or property by:
 Land or water as a common, contract, or private
carrier, or
 Civil aircraft.
Consignee. The business or person to whom a
shipment is delivered.
Division. A subdivision of a hazard class.
EPA. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
FMCSR. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Freight container. a reusable container having a
volume of 64 cubic feet or more, designed and
constructed to permit being lifted with its contents
intact and intended primarily for containment of
packages (in unit form) during transportation.
Fuel tank. A tank, other than a cargo tank, used to
transport flammable or combustible liquid or compressed gas for the purpose of supplying fuel for
propulsion of the transport vehicle to which it is
attached, or for the operation of other equipment
on the transport vehicle.
Gross weight or gross mass. The weight of a
packaging plus the weight of its contents.
Hazard class. The category of hazard assigned to
a hazardous material under the definitional criteria
of Part 173 and the provisions of the Sec. 172.101
Table. A material may meet the defining criteria for
more than one hazard class but is assigned to only
one hazard class.
Hazardous materials. A substance or material
which has been determined by the Secretary of
Transportation to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when
transported in commerce, and which has been so
designated. The term includes hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, marine pollutants, elevated temperature materials and materials designated as hazardous in the hazardous materials
table of §172.101, and materials that meet the defining criteria for hazard classes and divisions in
§173, subchapter c of this chapter.
Hazardous substance. A material, including its
mixtures and solutions, that:
 Is listed in Appendix A to Sec. 172.101;
 Is in a quantity, in one package, which equals or
exceeds the reportable quantity (RQ) listed in Appendix A to Sec. 172.101; and
 When in a mixture or solution For radionuclides, conforms to paragraph 7 of Appendix A to Sec. 172.101.
For other than radionuclides, is in a concentration by
weight which equals or exceeds the concentration
corresponding to the RQ of the material, as shown in
Figure 10.12.
Hazardous Substance Concentrations
Concentration by Weight
RQ Pounds
(Kilograms)
Percent
PPM
5,000
1,000
100
10
1
(2,270)
(454)
(45.4)
(4.54)
(0.454)
10.0
2.0
0.2
0.02
0.002
100,000
20,000
2,000
200
20
Figure 10.12
This definition does not apply to petroleum products that are lubricants or fuels (see 40 CFR
300.6).
Hazardous waste. For the purposes of this chapter, means any material that is subject to the Hazardous Waste Manifest Requirements of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency specified in 40
CFR Part 262.
Intermediate bulk container (IBC). A rigid or
flexible portable packaging, other than a cylinder or
portable tank, which is designed for mechanical
handling. Standards for IBCs manufactured in the
United States are set forth in subparts N and O
§178.
Limited quantity. The maximum amount of a hazardous material for which there may be specific
labeling or packaging exception.
Marking. The descriptive name, identification
number, instructions, cautions, weight, specification, or UN marks or combinations thereof, re-
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
quired by this subchapter on outer packaging of
hazardous materials.
Mixture. A material composed of more than one
chemical compound or element.
Name of contents. The proper shipping name as
specified in Sec. 172.101.
Non-bulk packaging. A packaging, which has:
 A maximum capacity of 450 L (119 gallons) as a
receptacle for a liquid;
 A maximum net mass less than 400 kg (882
pounds) and a maximum capacity of 450 L (119
gallons) or less as a receptacle for a solid; or
 A water capacity greater than 454 kg (1,000
pounds) or less as a receptacle for a gas as defined
in Sec. 173.115.
N.O.S. - Not otherwise specified.
Outage or ullage. The amount by which a packaging falls short of being liquid full, usually expressed
in percent by volume.
Portable tank. Bulk packaging (except a cylinder
having a water capacity of 1,000 pounds or less)
designed primarily to be loaded onto, or on, or
temporarily attached to a transport vehicle or ship
and equipped with skids, mountings, or accessories to facilitate handling of the tank by mechanical
means. It does not include a cargo tank, tank car,
multi-unit tank car tank, or trailer carrying 3AX,
3AAX, or 3T cylinders.
labeled, and are in proper condition for transportation
according to the applicable regulations or the Department of Transportation." or
"I hereby declare that the contents of this consignment
are fully and accurately described above by the proper
shipping name and are classified, packaged, marked
and labeled/placarded, and are in all respects in proper
condition for transport by * according to applicable international and national government regulations."
* words may be inserted here to indicate mode of transportation (rail, aircraft, motor vehicle, vessel)
Shipping paper. A shipping order, bill of lading,
manifest, or other shipping document serving a
similar purpose and containing the information required by Sec. 172.202, 172.203, and 172.204.
Technical name. A recognized chemical name or
microbiological name currently used in scientific
and technical handbooks, journals, and texts.
Transport vehicle. A cargo-carrying vehicle such
as an automobile, van, tractor, truck, semi-trailer,
tank car, or rail car used for the transportation of
cargo by any mode. Each cargo-carrying body
(trailer, rail car, etc.) is a separate transport vehicle.
UN standard packaging. A specification packaging conforming to the standards in the UN recommendations.
UN. United Nations.
Proper shipping name. The name of the hazardous materials shown in Roman print (not italics) in
Sec. 172.101.
P.S.I.
or PSI. Pounds per square inch.
P.S.I.A. OR PSIA.
Pounds per square inch absolute.
Reportable quantity (RQ). The quantity specified in
Column 2 of the Appendix to Sec. 172.101 for any
material identified in Column 1 of the Appendix.
PHMSA. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety
Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation,
Washington, DC 20590.
Shipper's certification. A statement on a shipping
paper, signed by the shipper, saying he/she prepared the shipment properly according to law. For
example:
"This is to certify that the above named materials are
properly classified, described, packaged, marked and
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
must be above refill mark.
Section 11
Water Pump
PRE-TRIP VEHICLE
INSPECTION TEST
 Notes that the belt is not frayed, has no visible
cracks, loose fibers, or signs of wear. Pushes belt
with hand and if it deflects more than ½ to ¾ of an
inch, observes that slippage is probably excessive.
This Section Covers
 Internal Inspection
 External Inspection
 Mentions that water pump is securely mounted and
is not leaking.
During the pre-trip inspection, you must show that
the vehicle is safe to drive. You will walk around
the vehicle and point to or touch each item you are
inspecting and explain to the tester how you know
the item is in good safe working order. You will not
have to crawl under the vehicle.
11.1
 Identifies belt that drives water pump or identifies it
as gear driven.
All Vehicles
Study the following vehicle parts for the type of vehicle you will be using during the CDL skill tests.
You should be able to tell the tester what component you are inspecting and how you know the item
is in good safe working order.
ENGINE COMPARTMENT (ENGINE OFF)
Alternator
 Identifies belt that drives alternator or identifies it as
gear driven.
 Notes that the belt is not frayed, has no visible
cracks, loose fibers, or signs of wear. Pushes belt
with hand and if it deflects more than ½ to ¾ of an
inch, observes that slippage is probably excessive.
 Mentions that alternator is securely mounted and all
wiring is secure.
Air Compressor
 Identifies belt that drives air compressor or identifies
it as gear driven.
 Look for puddles on the ground.
 Notes that the belt is not frayed, has no visible
cracks, loose fibers, or signs of wear. Pushes belt
with hand and if it deflects more than ½ to ¾ of an
inch, observes that slippage is probably excessive.
 Look for dripping fluids on underside of engine and
transmission.
 Mentions that air compressor is securely mounted
and there is no audible air leaks.
Leaks/Hoses
 Inspect hoses for condition and leaks.
IN CAB CHECK/ENGINE START
Oil Level
Safe Start
 Indicate where dipstick is located.
 Check that oil level is within safe operating range.
Level must be above refill mark.
 Depress clutch.
 Place gearshift lever in neutral (or park, for automatic transmissions).
 Start engine, then release clutch slowly.
Coolant Level
 Inspect reservoir sight glass, or
 (If engine is not hot), remove radiator cap and
check for visible coolant level.
Power Steering Fluid
ABS Warning Light
 Check that the ABS Warning light comes on during
start up then shuts off.
Oil Pressure Gauge
 Indicate where power steering fluid dipstick is located.
 Make sure oil pressure gauge is working.
 Check for adequate power steering fluid level. Level
 Check that pressure gauge shows increasing or
normal oil pressure or that the warning light goes off.
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 If equipped, oil temperature gauge should begin a
gradual rise to the normal operating range.
 Check that air horn and/or electric horn work.
Heater/Defroster
Temperature Gauge
 Make sure the temperature gauge is working.
 Temperature should begin to climb to the normal
operating range or temperature light should be off.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
 Check that gauge(s) show alternator and/or generator is charging or that warning light is off.
Air Gauge
 Check that the air system is building or maintaining
air at a safe operating range.
Mirrors and Windshield
 Mirrors should be clean and adjusted properly from
the inside.
 Windshield should be clean with no illegal stickers,
no obstructions, or damage to the glass.
 Check that the heater and defroster work.
Parking Brake Check
 Apply parking brake only and make sure that it will
hold the vehicle by shifting into a lower gear and
gently pulling against the brake.
Service Brake Check
 Check service brakes by releasing emergency/parking brake, placing vehicle in gear, pull
forward at 5 MPH, apply the services brake to check
that the brakes are working properly and to see if
the vehicle pulls to one side or the other.
Hydraulic Brake Check
 Pump the brake pedal three times, then hold it
down for five seconds. The brake pedal should not
move (depress) during the five seconds.
 Check for spare electrical fuses.
 If equipped with a hydraulic brake reserve (backup) system, with the key off, depress the brake
pedal and listen for the sound of the reserve system
electric motor.
 Check for three red reflective triangles.
 Check that the warning buzzer or light is off.
Emergency Equipment
 Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
Note: If the vehicle is not equipped with electrical
fuses, you must mention this to the tester.
Wipers/Washers
 Check that wiper arms and blades are secure, not
damaged, and operate smoothly.
 If equipped, windshield washers must operate correctly.
Air Brake Check (Air Brake Equipped Vehicles
Only)
 Failure to perform an air brake check will result in
an automatic failure of the vehicle inspection test.
Air brake safety devices vary. However, this procedure is designed to check that any safety device
operates correctly as air pressure drops from normal to a low air condition. For safety purposes, in
areas where an incline is present, you will use
wheel chocks during the air brake check. The
proper procedures for inspecting the air brake system are as follows:
Lighting Indicators
 Test that dash indicators work when corresponding
lights are turned on:
 Left turn signal.
 Right turn signal.
 Four-way emergency flashers.
 High beam headlight.
Horn(s)
Determine that the air compressor is functioning
properly at operating RPM's by demonstrating and
verbalizing that the air pressure builds from 85 to
100 PSI within 45 seconds. In single air systems
(pre-1975), typical requirements are pressure
buildup from 50 to 90 PSI within 3 minutes.
You will continue building air pressure to the governed cut-out (approximately 100-130 PSI).
 Chock your wheels, if necessary. Shut off the
engine, turn key to the on position, release the
tractor protection valve and parking brake (push
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in), fully apply the foot brake and hold it for one
minute. Check the air gauge and mentions if the
air pressure drops more than three pounds in
one minute (single vehicle) or four pounds in one
minute (combination vehicle).
 Turn the key to the on position, begin fanning off
the air pressure by rapidly applying and releasing
the foot brake. Low air warning devices (buzzer,
light, flag) should activate before air pressure
drops below 60 PSI.
 Continue to fan off the air pressure. At approximately 40 PSI on a tractor-trailer combination vehicle, the tractor protection valve and
parking brake valve should close (pop out). On
other combination vehicle types and single vehicle types, the parking brake valve should
close (pop out).
 Check that connecting links, arms, and rods from
the steering box to the wheel are not worn or
cracked.
 Check that joints and sockets are not worn or loose
and that there are no missing nuts, bolts, or cotter
keys.
SUSPENSION/ BRAKES/ WHEELS
Be prepared to perform the same suspension,
brake and wheel component inspection on every
axle (power unit and trailer, if equipped).
Springs/Airbag/ Shock Absorbers
 Check for missing, shifted, cracked, or broken leaf
springs.
 Check for broken or distorted coil springs.
Safety Belt
 Check that the safety belt is securely mounted, adjusts, no frays, and latches properly.
 Air ride suspension should be checked for damage
and leaks.
Spring Mounts/ Air Mounts/ Torque
11.2 – External Inspection (School
Bus/Truck/Tractor)
LIGHTS/REFLECTORS
 Check that all external lights and reflective equipment are clean and functional. Light and reflector
checks include:
 Clearance lights (red on rear, amber elsewhere).
 Headlights (high and low beams).
 Taillights.
 Check for cracked or broken spring hangers, missing or damaged bushings, and broken, loose, or
missing bolts or other axle mounting parts. (The
mounts should be checked at each point where
they are secured to the vehicle frame and axle(s).
 If vehicle is equipped with torsion bars, torque
arms, or other types of suspension components,
check that they are not damaged and are mounted
securely.
 Check that shock absorbers are secure and that
there are no leaks.
 Turn signals.
U-Bolts
 Four-way flashers.
 Check for broken, missing, or loose u-bolts.
 Brake lights.
 Red reflectors (on rear) and amber reflectors
(elsewhere).
Slack Adjustors
 Look for broken, loose, or missing parts.
 For manual slack adjustors, the brake rod should
not move more than one inch (with the brakes released) when pulled by hand.
STEERING
Steering Box/Hoses
 Check that the steering box is securely mounted
and not leaking. Look for any missing nuts, bolts,
and cotter keys.
 Check for power steering fluid leaks or damage to
the power steering hoses.
 Slack adjuster should be at a 90˚ angle.
Brake Chambers
 See that brake chambers are not cracked or dented
and are mounted securely with no audible air leaks.
Steering Linkage
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Brake Hoses/Lines
Spacers
 Look for cracked, worn, lines, and couplings with no
audible air leaks.
 If equipped, check that spacers are not bent, damaged, or rusted through.
 Check for cracks, dents, or holes. Also check for
signs of overheating.
 If vehicle is not equipped with spacers, you must
mention this and check between the disc (Budd)
wheels for even spacing, damage, and that there
are no foreign objects.
Brake Linings
SIDE OF VEHICLE
 Brake linings should not be worn dangerously thin.
Door(s)/Mirror(s)
 On some brake drums, there are openings where
the brake linings can be seen from outside the
drum. For this type of drum, check that a visible
amount of brake lining is showing.
 Check that door(s) are not damaged and that they
open and close properly from the outside.
Drum Brake
Rims
 Check for damaged or bent rims. Rims cannot have
welding repairs.
Tires
 The following items must be inspected on every
tire:
 Tread depth: Check for minimum tread depth
(4/32 on steering axle tires, 2/32 on all other
tires).
 Tire condition: Check that tread is evenly worn
and look for cuts or other damage to tread or
sidewalls. Also, make sure that valve caps and
stems are not broken, or damaged.
 Tire inflation: Check for proper inflation by using
a tire gauge or with a mallet.
 Hinges should be secure with seals intact.
 Check that mirror(s) and mirror brackets are not
damaged and are mounted securely with no loose
fittings.
Fuel Tank
 Check that tank(s) are secure, cap(s) are tight, and
that there are no leaks from tank(s) or lines.
Catwalk/ Steps
 Check that catwalk and steps are securely bolted to
tractor frame, and clear of loose objects.
Drive Shaft
 Check that drive shaft is not bent or cracked.
 U-joints should be secure and free of foreign objects.
Exhaust System
Note: You will not get credit if you simply kick the
tires to check for tire inflation.
Hub Oil Seals/Axle Seals
 Check that hub oil/grease seals and axle seals are
not leaking and, if wheel has a sight glass, oil level
is adequate.
Lug Nuts
 Check that all lug nuts are present, free of cracks
and distortions, and show no signs of looseness
such as rust trails or shiny threads.
 Make sure all bolt holes are not cracked or distorted.
 Check system for damage and signs of leaks such
as rust or carbon soot.
 System should be connected tightly and mounted
securely.
Frame
 Check for cracks, broken welds, holes or other
damage to the longitudinal frame members, cross
members, box, and floor.
REAR OF VEHICLE
Be prepared to perform the same component inspection on the rear of the trailer if equipped.
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Splash Guards
Release Arm / Safety Latch
 If equipped, check that splash guards or mud flaps
are not damaged and are mounted securely.
 If equipped, make sure the release arm is in the
engaged position and the safety latch is in place.
Doors/Ties/Lifts
Kingpin/Apron/Gap
 Check that doors and hinges are not damaged and
that they open, close, and latch properly from the
outside, if equipped.
 Check that the kingpin is not bent.
 Ties, straps, chains, and binders must also be secure.
 If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts and explain how it should be
checked for correct operation.
 Make sure the visible part of the apron is not bent,
cracked, or broken.
 Check that the trailer is laying flat on the fifth wheel
skid plate (no gap).
Sliding Fifth Wheel Locking Pins
 Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.
 If equipped, look for loose or missing pins in the
slide mechanism of the sliding fifth wheel. If air
powered, check for leaks.
TRACTOR TRAILER/COUPLING
 Make sure locking pins are fully engaged.
Air/Electric Lines/ Connect
 Check that the fifth wheel is positioned properly so
that the tractor frame will clear the landing gear during turns.
 Listen for air leaks. Check that air hoses and electrical lines are not cut, chafed, spliced, or worn
(steel braid should not show through).
 Make sure air and electrical lines are not tangled,
pinched, or dragging against tractor parts.
 Check that electrical plug is firmly seated and
locked in place on both tractor and trailer.
 Check that air connectors are sealed and not damaged on both tractor and trailer.
Mounting Bolts
 Look for loose or missing mounting brackets,
clamps, bolts, or nuts.
TRUCK/COUPLING
Air/Electric Lines/ Connect
 Refer to previous section “Tractor Trailer/Coupling.”
Mounting Bolts
 Check for loose or missing mounting bolts, or nuts
that secure the pintle hook and tongue draw bar
assembly (doughnut/eye).
Pintle Hook
 Check the pintle hook for cracks or breaks and excessive wear.
Locking Jaws
Hitch Release Lever
 Look into fifth wheel gap and check that locking
jaws are fully closed around the kingpin.
 Check that release lever is secure, no damage or
missing parts and is in the locked position.
Safety Devices
Fifth Wheel Skid Plate
 Check fifth wheel skid plate for proper lubrication.
 Check that safety chains are crisscrossed free of
kinks, and excessive slack.
 Check that fifth wheel skid plate is securely
mounted to the platform and that all bolts and pins
are secure and not missing.
 Check that hooks are secure and pointing in an
outward position.
Platform
Tongue Storage
 Check for cracks or breaks in the platform structure
that supports the fifth wheel skid plate.
 Check that the storage area is solid and secured to
the tongue; cargo in the storage area i.e., chains,
binders etc., are secure.
 Check that cotter pins on pintle are in place.
Tongue/Draw-bar
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Check that the tongue/drawbar is not bent or
twisted and check for broken welds and stress
cracks.
11.4 – Passenger Bus
Sliding Pintle
 Check that the entry door is not damaged, operates
smoothly, and closes securely from the inside.
 If equipped, look for loose or missing pins in the
slide mechanism of the pintle. If air powered, check
for leaks.
Passenger Entry/Lift
 Handrails are secure and the step light is working, if
equipped.
 Make sure locking pins are fully engaged.
 The entry steps must be clear with the treads not
loose or worn excessively.
11.3 – School Bus
 If equipped with a handicap lift, look for leaking,
damaged, or missing parts and explain how lift
should be checked for correct operation.
In addition to checking for spare electrical fuses (if
equipped), three red reflective triangles, and a
properly charged and rated fire extinguisher,
school bus drivers must also inspect the following
emergency equipment:
Emergency Kit/ Body Fluid Kit
 Check that the proper numbers of emergency kits
are present, secured to the vehicle and are adequately stocked.
 Check that the body fluid kit is present, secured and
adequately stocked
Student Lights
 In addition to checking the lights and reflective devices listed in Section 2 of this handbook, school
bus drivers must also check the following (external)
lights and reflectors:
 Strobe light, if equipped.
 Lift must be fully retracted and latched securely.
Emergency Exit
 Make sure that at least one of each type of emergency exit(s) are not damaged, operate smoothly,
and close securely from the inside.
 Check that all emergency exit warning devices are
working.
Seating
 Check for broken seat frames and check that seat
frames are firmly attached to the floor.
 Check that seat cushions are attached securely to
the seat frames.
11.5 – Trailer
 Stop arm light, if equipped.
 Alternately flashing amber lights.
TRAILER FRONT
 Alternately flashing red lights.
Air/Electrical Connections
Stop Arm/ Safety Arm
 Check the stop arm to see that it is mounted securely to the frame of the vehicle. Also, check for
loose fittings and damage.
 If equipped, check that safety arm is securely
mounted and functions properly in conjunction with
stop arm.
Student Mirror
 Check that mirror is clean and properly adjusted.
 Check that mirror and mirror bracket is not damaged and is mounted securely with no loose fittings.
 Check that trailer air connectors are sealed and free
from damage.
 Make sure glad hands are locked in place, free of
damage or air leaks.
 Make sure the trailer electrical plug is firmly seated
and locked in place.
Header Board
 If equipped, check the header board to see that it is
secure, free of damage, and strong enough to contain cargo.
 If equipped, the canvas or tarp carrier must be
mounted and fastened securely.
 On enclosed trailers, check the front area for signs
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CDL Driver’s Handbook
of damage such as cracks, bulges, or holes.
 Check that handrails are secure and, if equipped,
that the step light(s) are working.
 Check that the entry steps are clear, with the treads
not loose or worn excessively.
SIDE OF TRAILER
Landing Gear
 Check that the landing gear is fully raised, has no
missing parts, crank handle is secure, and the support frame is not damaged.
 If equipped with a handicap lift, look for any leaking,
damaged or missing part, and explain how it should
be checked for correct operation.
 Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.
 If power operated, check for air or hydraulic leaks.
Emergency Exits
Doors/Ties/Lifts
 If equipped, check that doors are not damaged.
Check that doors open, close, and latch properly
from the outside.
 Check that ties, straps, chains, and binders are secure.
 Make sure that at least one of each type of emergency exit(s) are not damaged, operate smoothly,
and close securely from the inside.
 Check that any emergency exit warning devices are
working.
 If equipped with a cargo lift, look for leaking, damaged or missing parts and explain how it should be
checked for correct operation.
Passenger Seating
 Lift should be fully retracted and latched securely.
 Check that seat cushions are attached securely to
the seat frames.
Frame
 Look for broken seat frames and check that seat
frames are firmly attached to the floor.
 Look for cracks, broken welds, holes or other damage to the frame, cross members, box, and floor.
ENTRY/ EXIT
Tandem Release Arm/Locking Pins
 Check that entry/exit doors are not damaged and
operate smoothly from the outside. Hinges should
be secure with seals intact.
 If equipped, make sure the locking pins are locked
in place and release arm is secured.
REMAINDER OF TRAILER
 Please refer to Section 11.2 of this handbook for
detailed inspection procedures regarding the following components:
Doors/Mirrors
 Make sure the passenger exit mirrors and all external mirrors and mirror brackets are not damaged
and are mounted securely with no loose fittings.
EXTERNAL INSPECTION OF COACH/TRANSIT
BUS
 Wheels.
Air Leaks/Level
 Suspension system.
 Check that the vehicle is sitting level (front and
rear), and if air-equipped, check for audible air
leaks from the suspension system.
 Brakes.
 Doors/ties/lift.
 Splash guards.
Fuel Tank(s)
11.6 – Coach/Transit Bus
 Check that fuel tank(s) are secure with no leaks
from tank(s) or lines and check that the fuel cap is
securely in place.
PASSENGER ITEMS
Compartments
Passenger Entry/Lift
 Check that entry doors operate smoothly and close
securely from the inside.
 Check that baggage and all other exterior compartment doors are not damaged, operate properly,
and latch securely.
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REMAINDER OF COACH/ TRANSIT BUS
Remainder of Vehicle
 Please refer to Section 11.2 of this handbook for
detailed inspection procedures regarding the
wheels, steering box, hoses and steering linkage.
Remember, the pre-trip vehicle inspection must be
passed before you can proceed to the basic vehicle control skill tests.
11.7 – Taking the CDL Pre-trip
Inspection Test
CLASS A PRE-TRIP INSPECTION TEST
If you are applying for a Class A CDL, you will be
required to perform portions of a complete pre-trip
inspection in the vehicle you have brought with you
for testing.
All of the tests include an engine start, an in-cabinspection, and an inspection of the coupling system. The in-cab inspection includes a brake check.
Then, your CDL Tester will explain to you which
other portion(s) of the vehicle that he/she would
like for you to inspect.
CLASS B AND C PRE-TRIP INSPECTION TEST
If you are applying for a Class B or Class C CDL,
you will be required to perform portions of a complete pre-trip inspection in the vehicle you have
brought with for testing.
All of the tests include an engine start and an incab inspection. The in-cab inspection includes a
brake check. Then, your CDL Tester will explain to
you which other portion(s) of the vehicle that
he/she would like for you to inspect. You will also
have to inspect any special features of your vehicle
(e.g., school or transit bus).
Section 11 – Pre-Trip Vehicle Inspection
Page 11 - 8
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 12
12.2
BASIC VEHICLE
CONTROL SKILL TESTS
FORWARD STOP STRAIGHT LINE BACKING
This Section Covers
 Skill Tests Exercises
 Skill Tests Scoring
You will be asked to drive your vehicle straight forward and stop at the end of a lane, then back your
vehicle in a straight line between two rows of
cones without touching or crossing over the exercise boundaries. (See Figure 12.1)
OFFSET BACK RIGHT/LEFT
Your basic control skills could be tested using one
or more of the following exercises off-road or
somewhere on the street during the road test:
 Forward stop, Straight line backing
 Offset back right
 Offset back left
You may be asked to maneuver your vehicle into a
space that is to the right/left of your vehicle. You
are to drive forward then back into that space without striking the side or rear boundaries marked by
cones. You are to place your vehicle completely
into the space. (See Figure 12.2 and 12.3)
PARALLEL PARK CONVENTIONAL/SIDE SITE
 Parallel park driver side
 Parallel park conventional
 Alley dock
These exercises are shown in Figures 12-1
through 12-6.
12.1
EXERCISES
SCORING
You may be asked to park in a parallel parking
space. You are to drive past the parking space and
back into it bringing the rear of your vehicle as
close as possible to the rear of the space without
crossing side or rear boundaries marked by cones.
You are to place your vehicle completely into the
space. (See Figure 12.4 and 12.5)
ALLEY DOCK
 Encroachments (Crossing Boundaries)
 Pull-ups
 Vehicle Position
 Looks
The tester will score the number of times you touch
or cross over an exercise boundary line with any
portion of your vehicle. Each encroachment will
count as an error.
You may be asked to back your vehicle into an
alley dock, bringing the rear of your vehicle as
close as possible to the rear of the alley dock without going beyond the exercise boundary marked
by a line or row of cones. (See Figure 12.6)
Dimensions will be based on the vehicle used for
testing.
You will be given the opportunity to exit the vehicle once per maneuver to check for vehicle positioning. However, an excessive number of pull-ups,
looks, or encroachments will result in automatic
failure of the basic skill tests.
It is important that you finish each exercise exactly
as the tester has instructed you. If you don’t maneuver the vehicle into its final position you will be
penalized.
Section 12 – Basic Vehicle Control Skills
Page 12 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Figure 12.1: Straight Line Backing
Figure 12.2: Offset Back/Right
Figure 12.3: Offset Back/Left
Section 12 – Basic Vehicle Control Skills
Page 12 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Figure 12.4 Parallel Park (Driver Side)
Figure 12.5 Parallel Park (Conventional)
Figure 12.6 Alley Dock
Section 12 – Basic Vehicle Control Skills
Page 12 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Section 13
 Come to a complete stop behind the stop line,
crosswalk, or prior to the intersection.
ON-ROAD DRIVING
 If stopping behind another vehicle, stop so that your
vehicle has enough room to move around a vehicle
without backing your vehicle up.
 Do not let your vehicle roll.
This Section Covers
 Keep the front wheels aimed straight ahead.
 How You Will Be Tested
When ready to turn:
 Check traffic in all directions.
You will drive over a test route that has a variety of
traffic situations. At all times during the test, you
must drive in a safe and responsible manner.
During the driving test, the tester will be scoring
you on specific driving maneuvers as well as on
your general driving behavior. You will follow the
directions of the tester. Directions will be given to
you so you will have plenty of time to do what the
tester has asked. You will not be asked to drive in
an unsafe or illegal manner.
If your test route does not have certain traffic situations, you may be asked to simulate a traffic situation. You will do this by telling the tester what you
are or would be doing if you were in that actual
traffic situation.
During the road test, drivers are not permitted to
use equipment designed to slow the vehicle down
other than the service brake. For example; jake
brake, Johnson bar, retarder.
 Keep both hands on the steering wheel during the
turn.
 Keep checking your mirror to make sure the vehicle
does not hit anything on the inside of the turn.
 Vehicle should not move into oncoming traffic.
 Vehicle should finish the turn in the correct lane.
After turn:
 Make sure turn signal is off.
 Get up to the speed of traffic, use turn signal, and
move into right-most lane when safe to do so (if not
already there).
INTERSECTIONS
As you approach an intersection:
 Check traffic thoroughly in all directions.
 Decelerate gently.
13.1 – How You Will Be Tested
 Brake smoothly and, if necessary, change gears.
You have been asked to make a turn:
 Come to a complete stop (no coasting) behind
crosswalks, signals, or stop lines prior to the intersection maintaining a safe gap behind any vehicle
in front of you.
 Check traffic in all directions.
 Your vehicle must not roll forward or backward.
 Use turn signals and safely get into the lane
needed for the turn.
When driving through an intersection:
As you approach the turn:
 Check traffic in all directions.
 Use turn signals to warn others of your turn.
 Decelerate and yield to any pedestrians and traffic
in the intersection.
TURNS
 Slow down smoothly, change gears as needed to
keep power, but do not coast. Coasting occurs
when your vehicle is out of gear (clutch depressed
or gearshift in neutral) for more than the length of
your vehicle.
 Do not change lanes while proceeding through the
intersection.
 Keep both hands on the wheel.
Once through the intersection:
If you must stop before making the turn:
 Come to a smooth stop.
 Continue checking traffic.
Section 13 – On-Road Driving
Page 13 - 1
CDL Driver’s Handbook
 Accelerate smoothly; change gears as necessary.
URBAN/RURAL STRAIGHT
During this part of the test, you are expected to
make regular traffic checks and maintain a safe
following distance. Your vehicle should be centered in the proper lane (right-most lane) and you
should keep up with the flow of traffic but not exceed the posted speed limit.
and check something on your vehicle. You must
check traffic thoroughly in all directions and move
to the right-most lane or shoulder of road. As you
prepare for the stop:
 Check traffic.
 Activate your right turn signal.
 Decelerate smoothly, brake evenly, change gears
as necessary.
 Bring your vehicle to a full stop without coasting.
URBAN/RURAL LANE CHANGES
Once stopped:
During the multiple lane portion of the urban and/or
rural sections, you will be asked to change lanes to
the left, and then back to the right. You should
make the necessary traffic checks first, then use
proper signals and smoothly change lanes when it
is safe to do so.
 Vehicle must be parallel to the curb or shoulder of
the road and safely out of the traffic flow.
 Vehicle should not be blocking driveways, fire hydrants, intersections, signs, etc.
 Cancel your turn signal.
EXPRESSWAY
 Activate your four-way emergency flashers.
Before entering the expressway:
 Apply the parking brake.
 Check traffic.
 Move the gearshift to neutral or park.
 Use proper signals.
 Remove your feet from the brake and clutch pedals.
 Merge smoothly into the proper lane of traffic.
When instructed to resume:
Once on the expressway:
 Check traffic thoroughly in all directions.
 Maintain proper lane positioning, vehicle spacing,
and vehicle speed.
 Turn off your four-way flashers.
 Continue to check traffic thoroughly in all directions.
You will be instructed to change lanes:
 You must make necessary traffic checks.
 Use proper signals.
 Change lanes smoothly when it is safe to do so.
 Activate the left turn signal.
 When traffic permits, you should release the parking brake and pull straight ahead.
 Do not turn the wheel before your vehicle moves.
 Check traffic from all directions, especially to the left.
 Steer and accelerate smoothly into the proper lane
when safe to do so.
 Once your vehicle is back into the flow of traffic,
cancel your left turn signal.
When exiting the expressway:
 Make necessary traffic checks.
 Use proper signals.
CURVE
 Decelerate smoothly in the exit lane.
 Once on the exit ramp, continue to decelerate
within the lane markings and maintain adequate
spacing between your vehicle and other vehicles.
 When approaching a curve:
 Check traffic thoroughly in all directions.
 Before entering the curve, reduce speed so further
braking or shifting is not required in the curve.
STOP/START
 Keep vehicle in the lane.
For this grading point, you will be asked to pull
your vehicle over to the side of the road, stop and
secure the vehicle as if you were going to get out
 Continue checking traffic in all directions.
Section 13 – On-Road Driving
Page 13 - 2
CDL Driver’s Handbook
RAILROAD CROSSING
 Obey all traffic signs, signals, and laws.
Before reaching the crossing, all commercial drivers should:
 Complete the test without a crash, collision or moving violation.
 Decelerate, brake smoothly, and shift gears as
necessary.
You will be scored on your overall performance in
the following general driving behavior categories:
 Look and listen for the presence of trains.
CLUTCH USAGE (FOR MANUAL
TRANSMISSION)
 Check traffic in all directions.
 Always use the clutch to shift.
Do not stop, change gears, pass another vehicle,
or change lanes while any part of your vehicle is in
the crossing.
 Double-clutch if vehicle is equipped with nonsynchronized transmission.
If you are driving a bus, a school bus, or a vehicle
displaying placards, you should be prepared to
observe the following procedures at every railroad
crossing (unless the crossing is exempt):
 As the vehicle approaches a railroad crossing, activate the four-way flashers.
 Stop the vehicle within 50 feet but not less than 15
feet from the nearest rail.
 Listen and look in both directions along the track for
an approaching train and for signals indicating the
approach of a train. If operating a bus, you may
also be required to open the window and door prior
to crossing tracks. The door must be closed prior to
moving the vehicle across the tracks.
 Keep hands on the steering wheel as the vehicle
crosses the tracks.
 Do not stop, change gears, or change lanes while
any part of your vehicle is crossing the tracks.
 Four-way flashers should be deactivated after the
vehicle crosses the tracks.
 Do not rev or lug the engine.
 Do not ride the clutch to control speed, coast with
the clutch depressed, or "pop" the clutch.
GEAR USAGE (FOR MANUAL TRANSMISSION)
 Do not grind or clash gears.
 Select gear that does not rev or lug engine.
BRAKE USAGE
 Do not ride or pump brake.
 Don't brake harshly. Brake smoothly using steady
pressure.
LANE USAGE
 Do not put vehicle over curbs, sidewalks, or lane
markings.
 Stop behind stop lines, crosswalks, or stop signs.
 Complete a turn in the proper lane on a multiple
lane road (vehicle should finish a left turn in the lane
directly to the right of the center line).
Not all driving road test routes will have a railroad
crossing. You may be asked to explain and demonstrate the proper railroad crossing procedures to
the tester at a simulated location.
 Finish a right turn in the right-most (curb) lane.
BRIDGE/OVERPASS/SIGN
AUTOMATIC FAILURES
After driving under an overpass, you may be asked to
tell the tester what the posted clearance or height was.
After going over a bridge, you may be asked to tell the
tester what the posted weight limit was. If your test
route does not have a bridge or overpass, you may be
asked about another traffic sign. Be prepared to identify and explain to the tester any traffic sign that may
appear on the route.
An occurrence of any of the following will result in
an automatic failure of the road test:
 Move to or remain in right-most lane unless lane is
blocked.
 Did not use safety belt
 A moving violation or disobeying a sign or signal.
 An avoidable crash, collision, or incident
 A dangerous act
During the driving test you must:
 Putting the vehicle over sidewalks or curbs
 Wear your safety belt.
 *Passenger Vehicles: any unsatisfactory behavior
at any railroad crossing.
Section 13 – On-Road Driving
Page 13 - 3
CDL Driver’s Handbook
Notes:
Section 13 – On-Road Driving
Page 13 - 4
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