WA_CDLManual
DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING
Commercial
Driver Guide
dol.wa.gov
This Commercial Driver License (CDL) Guide is a summary of
the laws and rules that apply to all drivers of commercial motor
vehicles in Washington State. It is not a book of laws, and should
not be used as a basis for any legal claims or actions. Regulations
put into effect by federal or state agencies may go beyond state
laws but cannot conflict with them.
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
Send these to:
Communications and Education
Department of Licensing
1125 Washington Street SE
Olympia WA 98501
For your convenience, additional contact information is given below.
Department of Licensing (DOL)
Website: www.dol.wa.gov
• For information about driving records, reinstatements, and
eligibility:
Telephone: (360) 902-3900
• For vehicle questions:
Prorate (IRP)
(360) 664-1858
IFTA
(360) 664-1868
CDL Program
Telephone: (360) 902-3619
email: [email protected]
For information about:
• General state and federal requirements and inquiries
• How to get a CDL
• Minimum training requirements
• Medical waivers
• HAZMAT/TSA threat assessment clearance
• Foreign knowledge testing
• Washington Commercial Driver Guide and knowledge test questions
CDL Skills Testing Program
Telephone: (360) 902-3607
email: [email protected]
For information about:
• CDL skills testing scheduling
• TPT fee reimbursement
• Customer testing inquiries/comments
i
Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA)
Telephone: (360) 753-9875
Website: www.fmcsa.dot.gov
• Hours of service
• Equipment
• Interstate medical waivers
• Federal rules and regulations
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Telephone: 1-(877) 429-7746
Website: www.hazprints.tsa.dhs.gov
• Hazmat endorsement eligibility
• Threat assessments
• Background checks
• Fingerprints
Washington State Patrol (WSP)
Telephone: (360) 596-3800
Website: www.wsp.wa.gov
• Equipment requirements
• Enforcement practices
• Road conditions
• Chain requirements
• Weight enforcement
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC)
Telephone: (360) 664-1222
Website: www.wutc.wa.gov
• Authority to carry freight for hire
• Intrastate inspections
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)
Telephone: (360) 704-6340
Website: www.wsdot.wa.gov/commercialvehicle
• Interpretation of statutes or rules
• Restricted roads or bridges
• Oversize/Overweight permits
• Construction projects
Hazardous Material National Response Center (NRC)
Telephone: 1-(800) 424-8802
To report a hazardous material emergency
Chemical Transportation Emergency Center (CHEMTREC)
Telephone: 1-(800) 424-9300
For technical information about physical properties of hazardous
materials
We are committed to providing equal access to our services.
If you need accommodation, please call (360) 902-3900 or TTY (360) 664-0116.
ii
Table Contents
Introduction
1.1 – Who Needs a CDL? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.2 – Getting Your CDL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.3 – Medical Waivers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.4 – Driver Disqualifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.5 – Nationwide CDL Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1.6 – Washington State Laws and Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1-2
1-6
1-11
1-14
1-17
1-19
Driving Safely
2.1 – Vehicle Inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.2 – Basic Control of Your Vehicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.3 – Shifting Gears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.4 – Seeing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.5 – Communicating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.6 – Controlling Speed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.7 – Managing Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.8 – Seeing Hazards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.9 – Distracted Driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.10 – Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.11 – Driving at Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.12 – Driving in Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.13 – Driving in Winter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.14 – Driving in Very Hot Weather . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.15 – Railroad-highway Crossings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.16 – Mountain Driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.17 – Driving Emergencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.18 – Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.19 – Skid Control and Recovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.20 – Accident Procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.21 – Fires . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.22 – Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Driving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.23 – Staying Alert and Fit to Drive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2.24 – Hazardous Materials Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2-2
2-16
2-18
2-20
2-24
2-27
2-33
2-38
2-44
2-45
2-47
2-50
2-51
2-54
2-56
2-60
2-62
2-67
2-69
2-72
2-73
2-76
2-79
2-82
Transporting Cargo Safely
3.1 – Inspecting Cargo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.2 – Weight and Balance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.3 – Securing Cargo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3.4 – Cargo Needing Special Attention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3-2
3-2
3-4
3-6
iii
Transporting Passengers Safely
4.1 – Vehicle Inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.2 – Loading and Trip Start . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.3 – On the Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.4 – After-trip Vehicle Inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.5 – Prohibited Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4.6 – Use of Brake-door Interlocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4-2
4-3
4-5
4-7
4-7
4-7
Air Brakes
5.1 – The Parts of an Air Brake System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.2 – Dual Air Brake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.3 – Inspecting Air Brake Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5.4 – Using Air Brakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5-2
5-10
5-11
5-15
Combination Vehicles
6.1 – Driving Combination Vehicles Safely . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.2 – Combination Vehicle Air Brakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.3 – Antilock Brake Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.4 – Coupling and Uncoupling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6.5 – Inspecting a Combination Vehicle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6-2
6-8
6-12
6-14
6-20
Doubles and Triples
7.1 – Pulling Double/Triple Trailers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.2 – Coupling and Uncoupling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.3 – Inspecting Doubles and Triples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.4 – Doubles/Triples Air Brake Check . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7-2
7-3
7-6
7-8
Tank Vehicles
8.1 – Inspecting Tank Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-2
8.2 – Driving Tank Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-3
8.3 – Safe Driving Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8-4
Hazardous Materials
9.1 – The Intent of the Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.2 – Hazardous Materials Transportation: Who Does What . .
9.3 – Communication Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.4 – Loading and Unloading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.5 – Bulk Packaging Marking, Loading and Unloading . . . . .
9.6 – Hazardous Materials – Driving and Parking Rules . . . . . .
9.7 – Hazardous Materials – Emergencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.8 – Hazardous Materials Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9.9 – Hazardous Materials Endorsement Requirements . . . . .
iv
9-3
9-4
9-5
9-20
9-26
9-28
9-32
9-39
9-44
School Buses
10.1 – Danger Zones and Use of Mirrors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.2 – Loading and Unloading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.3 – Emergency Exit and Evacuation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.4 – Railroad-highway Crossings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.5 – Student Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.6 – Antilock Braking Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.7 – Special Safety Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10-2
10-6
10-12
10-14
10-19
10-20
10-21
Pre-Trip Inspection
11.1 – The Pre-Trip Inspection Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.2 – What The Tester Will Look For . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.3 – Checks For All Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.4 – Checks For Combination Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.5 – Checks For All Buses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.6 – Checks for School Buses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11-1
11-2
11-3
11-15
11-19
11-20
Basic Controls
12.1 – The Basic Controls Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12-2
12.2 – What The Tester Will Look For . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12-3
The Road Test
13.1 – The Road Test . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13-2
13.2 – What The Tester Will Look For . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13-3
v
vi
Introduction
This section covers:
• Who needs a Commercial Driver License (CDL)
• Getting your CDL
• Medical waivers
• Driver disqualifications
• Nationwide CDL rules
• Washington State laws and rules
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 requires
all states to meet the same minimum standards for testing and
licensing commercial drivers. Your Commercial Driver License
(CDL) is proof that you have the professional skills needed to safely
operate commercial vehicles. All commercial drivers throughout the
United States are required to have a CDL.
This manual will help you to understand and meet the driver
licensing requirements and standards.
All drivers need to study:
• Section 1, Introduction and State Laws
• Section 2, Driving Safely
• Section 3, Transporting Cargo Safely
Your General Knowledge test will have questions from each of
these sections.
1-1
1.1 – Who Needs a CDL?
You must have a CDL to drive any of the following vehicles:
• Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
of 26,001 pounds or more.
• A combination vehicle with a gross combination weight rating
of 26,001 or more pounds if the trailer(s) has a GVWR of
10,001 or more pounds.
• All vehicles designed to transport 16 or more persons
including the driver–this also includes private and church
buses.
• All school buses regardless of size.
• Any size vehicle which requires hazardous material placards
or is carrying material listed as a select agent or toxin in 49
CFR 100-185.
These vehicles are divided into three classes–A, B, and C. Use
Figure 1.1 to see if you need a CDL, and what class of CDL you
need. A higher-class CDL allows you to drive vehicles in any of the
lower classes if you have the correct endorsements.
You may need endorsements added to your CDL if you will:
• Drive passenger-carrying vehicles, such as buses, including
all school buses.
• Pull double or triple trailers.
• Drive tank vehicles.
• 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.
There are seven endorsements and one restriction for the CDL,
each with its own knowledge test. Study figure 1.2 to see if they
apply to you.
Occasional drivers also need a CDL and any required
endorsements. For example: mechanics or truck salespeople who
test-drive the vehicles described above on a public roadway.
You must pass the knowledge and skill tests to get a CDL. This
manual will help you to pass these tests, but it is not a substitute for
a training class or program. Formal training is the most reliable way
to learn the special skills required to safely and professionally drive
a large commercial vehicle.
1-2
Do you need a Commercial Driver License?
There are three types of Commercial Driver Licenses (CDL):
Class A, Class B, and Class C. To see if you need a CDL, answer
the questions and follow the lines.
START
Do you
drive a
combination
vehicle?
Yes
Is the mfg’s
weight rating
of the towed
vehicle(s)
10,001
pounds or
more?
Yes
Is the mfg’s
weight
rating for the
vehicle(s)
26,001
pounds or
more?
Yes
STOP.
You need
a Class A
License.
Yes
STOP.
You need
a Class B
License.
Yes
STOP
You need
a Class C
License.
Is your vehicle
a school bus?
Yes
STOP
You need
a Class B
or Class
C License
(Fig. 1.2)
Does your
vehicle 26,000
pounds or
less carry
placarded
hazardous
materials?
Yes
STOP
You need
a Class C
License.
No
No
No
Is the mfg’s
weight rating
of your single
vehicle 26,001
pounds or
more?
No
Is your vehicle
26,000
pound or less
designed to
carry 16 or
more persons
including the
driver?
No
No
STOP
You do not
need a CDL.
Figure 1.1
1-3
CDL Endorsements/Restrictions
Endorsement/
Restriction
1-4
Description
P1
Class B passenger vehicle.
Required for drivers of vehicles 26,001 lbs. or
more designed to carry 16 or more passengers
including the driver.
P2
Class C passenger vehicle.
Required for drivers of vehicles 26,000 lbs. or
less, designed to carry 16 or more passengers
including the driver.
S
School bus endorsement.
Required for drivers who drive any size of school
bus. A school bus is a vehicle regularly used
to transport children to and from school or in
conjunction with school activities, which meets
the school bus specifications established by the
Superintendent of Public Instruction.
T
Double and triple trailers endorsement.
Required for drivers pulling sets of double or triple
trailers*
N
Tank vehicle endorsement.
Required for drivers of vehicles carrying liquids 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.
H
Hazardous materials endorsement.
Required for drivers of 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.*
X
Combination of tank vehicle endorsment and
hazardous materials endorsement.
K
Air brakes restriction.
Drivers of CDL vehicles with air brakes must pass
the required tests for air brakes. Drivers who do
not pass these tests are restricted on the CDL to
non-air brake vehicles.
U
CDL Intrastate Only Restriction
Drivers of CDL vehicles who are restricted to
driving only within Washington, either because of
medical waiver or the driver is under the age of 21.
*see the following section for exemptions
Figure 1.2
Exemptions
The law exempts four groups of drivers from the CDL:
• Farmers transporting farm equipment, supplies, or products to
or from a farm in a farm vehicle are exempted if the vehicle is:
-- Operated by a farmer or a farm employee.
-- Not used in the operation of a common or contract motor
carrier.
-- Used within 150 miles of the farm (in an air-mile radius).
Products include Christmas trees or wood products
transported by vehicles weighing no more than forty thousand
pounds licensed gross vehicle weight. The weight restriction
applies only to Christmas trees and wood products.
• Farmers may operate vehicles that meet the definition of a
farm-exempt vehicle between the states of Idaho and Oregon
if they meet all requirements of the farm exemption.
• Firefighters and law enforcement personnel operating
emergency equipment are exempted if they carry the
certification card proving they have completed the Emergency
Vehicle Accident Prevention Program (EVAP).
• Recreation Vehicle (RV) operators are exempted when
driving an RV for non-commercial purposes. This group
includes:
-- Two-axle rental trucks.
-- Horse trailers.
• Military commercial drivers are exempted only when they
are operating the proper military vehicles under a military
license issued by their branch of service.
1-5
1.2 – Getting Your CDL
Application
To get a Washington CDL or a Commercial Driver Instruction
Permit (CDIP) you must:
• Be at least 18 years old.
• Have a Washington State driver license.
• Give your valid Social Security number issued by the Social
Security Administration.
• Give the names of all the states where you have had a driver
license in the last ten years.
• Successfully complete the initial application process, vision
screening, and General Knowledge Test.
• Pay the proper fees.
To get a CDL you must also successfully complete:
• The skill tests.
• All required knowledge tests.
• A commercial driver training program from your employer or
from a certified CDL training school, if you are a Washington
driver getting your first CDL. Visit www.dol.wa.gov for
information on training and licensing requirements.
It is mandatory for commercial drivers to disclose their Social
Security number (SSN) during the application process (49 CFR
383.153, RCW 46.25.070). Your SSN will be kept on file and used
for identification purposes.
You must be at least 21 years old to operate commercial vehicles
interstate (from state to state).
Study Section 2 of this guide to prepare for your General
Knowledge Test before you apply for a CDIP.
CDIP fees and requirements
What you need to pay to get your CDIP:
• The application and knowledge testing are $10.
• Knowledge retesting is $10.
• The permit and required photograph are $10.
This permit is valid for 6 months, and may only be renewed once.
1-6
When operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on any public
roadway, the CDIP holder must be with another driver who has:
• A CDL valid for the vehicle being driven.
• No less than 2 years driving experience in the class of CMV
being operated.
• No less than 5 years of total driving experience.
The licensed commercial driver must occupy the seat beside the
learning driver for the purpose of giving instruction.
Under federal regulations, CDIP holders cannot 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 49 CFR 100-185.
First-time CDL fees
What you need to pay to get your first CDL with a Washington
driver license:
• The application and knowledge testing are $10.
• Knowledge retesting is $10.
• Skill testing is no more than $100.*
• Skill retesting is no more than $100.*
• CDL, endorsements, and required photograph are $71.
CDL upgrade fees
What you need to pay for CDL class upgrades and added
endorsements:
• The application and knowledge testing are $10.
• Knowledge retesting is $10.
• Skill testing is no more than $100.*
• Skill retesting is no more than $100.*
• CDL class upgrades, added endorsements, and required
photograph are $10.
All fees are in addition to those for your basic driver license.
*If most of your driving will be for federally supported Head Start
or the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, these
fees will be no more than $75.
1-7
Knowledge tests
CDL knowledge tests are used to evaluate your understanding
of laws and safety practices that apply to the operation of a
commercial vehicle.
You must earn a passing score of at least 80 percent on each
knowledge test to qualify. If you need to retest, you can usually do
so on the next business day. We suggest that you check testing
times and availability with your local driver licensing office.
You must take one or more knowledge tests for:
• The class of vehicle you want to drive.
• Each endorsement you want.
• Removal of the air brake restriction.
CDL knowledge tests include:
• The General Knowledge Test–required if you want to get a
CDL.
• The Passenger Test–required if you want to drive a bus.
• The Air Brakes Test–required if your vehicle has air brakes,
including air-over hydraulic brakes.
• The Combination Vehicles Test–required if you want to drive
combination vehicles.
• The Hazardous Materials Test–required if you want to 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 49
CFR 100-185. In order to get this endorsement you must
also pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
background check.
• The Tanker Test–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.
• The Doubles/Triples Test–required if you want to pull double or
triple trailers.
• The School Bus Test–required if you want to drive a school
bus.
Figure 1.3 shows the sections of this manual you should study
for each class of license and for each endorsement.
1-8
What sections should you study?
2
X
X
X
3
X
X
X
X
X
4
5*
X
6
X
X
X
X
7
X
X
X
X
School Bus
X
Passenger
X
Tank Vehicles
X
Double/Triple
1
HazMat
Class C
Endorsement
Class B
License type
Class A
Sections
to study
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
X
8
X
9
X
X
10
X
11
X
X
X
X
X
12
X
X
X
X
X
13
X
X
X
X
X
*Study Section 5 if you plan to operate vehicles equipped with air brakes.
Figure 1.3
Skill tests
After you pass the required knowledge test(s), you can take the
CDL skill tests. There are three required skill tests:
• Pre-Trip Inspection Test
• Basic Controls Test
• Road Test
Pre-Trip Inspection Test. This test is used to evaluate your
ability to inspect your vehicle for safe operation. You will be asked to
perform a vehicle pre-trip inspection and to explain what items you
are inspecting and how to inspect them.
1-9
Basic Controls Test. This test is used to evaluate both your
ability to control your vehicle while backing and your ability to judge
your vehicle’s position in relation to other objects. You will be asked
to back your vehicle and to turn it within a defined area. These
areas will be marked with traffic cones. The tester will tell you how
to perform each control test.
Road Test. This test is used to evaluate your ability to safely
drive your vehicle in a variety of traffic situations. The situations will
include:
• Left and right turns
• Intersections
• Railroad crossings
• Curves
• Up and down grades
• Single or multi-lane roads
• Streets or highways
The tester will tell you where to drive.
It will take about two hours to complete all three of these tests.
Review Sections 11, 12, and 13 before taking the skill tests. The
vehicle you use for the skill tests must match the class of CDL you
apply for. If you apply for a Class A CDL, bring a Class A vehicle;
if you apply for a passenger or a school bus endorsement, bring a
bus designed to carry 16 or more persons including the driver or the
proper size of school bus.
If you test with a third party tester, you may be randomly selected
to complete a skill retest with the Department of Licensing to
ensure testing practices were correctly followed. If you refuse to
retest or you cannot pass the retest, your CDL will be cancelled
until you pass. If you don’t pass the retest on the first try, you
may be required to provide a test vehicle and pay testing fees for
additional attempts.
CDL skills tests are required if you are:
• Adding a CDL to your license.
• Upgrading your Class C to a Class B license.
• Upgrading your Class B to a Class A license.
• Adding a passenger endorsement to your CDL.
• Adding a school bus endorsement to your CDL.
• Removing an air brake restriction to your CDL.
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Renewals, upgrades, adding endorsements, and
removing restrictions
After a CDL is issued, to apply for a CDL renewal, upgrade,
endorsement, or restriction removal, you need to:
• Provide updated information.
• Successfully complete all required knowledge and skill tests.
• Pay the proper fees.
If you are applying for a hazardous materials endorsement, you
must also:
• Comply with federal requirements by:
-- Completing a national hazardous materials endorsement
application.
-- Providing proof of citizenship.
-- Submitting fingerprints if you want to keep or add a
hazardous materials endorsement.
• Pass a hazardous materials knowledge test if you want to
keep or add a hazardous materials endorsement.
Surrender of your CDL
If you surrender your CDL or any endorsement, you must retake
the knowledge and skills tests and pay all the proper fees to get
your CDL. If you surrender your CDL for more than one year, you
will also be required to provide proof of commercial driver training.
Test your knowledge
1. What class of CDL do you need?
2. What endorsements do you need?
3. What items do you need to bring to the driver licensing office?
You should be able to answer these questions. If not, reread
Sections 1.1 and 1.2.
1.3 – Medical Waivers
All commercial drivers must meet the medical standards
established by federal and state laws, rules, and regulations.
Reference: FMCSR parts 391.41-49.
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Intrastate
If you don’t meet the medical standards, you can apply to the
Department of Licensing (DOL) for an Intrastate Medical Waiver.
This waiver is:
• Valid for operation within the state of Washington only.
• Valid for no more than a two-year cycle.
• Issued only to Washington-licensed drivers or those who have
an active application on file.
If you need an intrastate waiver, complete a medical waiver
application with:
• Your name.
• Your driver license number.
• Your residential address.
• Your mailing address–if different from your residential address.
• Medical examiner’s name, title, business address, and
telephone number.
• A description of all medical conditions that don’t meet FMCSA
standards.
• The cycle of the waiver–three months, 6 months, 1 year, or 2
years.
• A copy of your current DOT Medical Examination Report long
form and wallet card completed by an authorized Medical
Examiner and clearly showing any reason why you are not
medically qualified.
Your waiver application process will not move forward until we
have all of the required information listed above. Make sure your
application is complete before you return it to us, or the process will
be delayed.
A certified Nurse Practitioner may complete the application form
for medical conditions such as:
• Monocular vision
• Color blindness
• Hearing impairments
For all medical conditions that are more serious, a Medical
Examiner familiar with the applicant’s medical condition must
complete the form.
Drivers may pick up an Intrastate Medical Waiver application
form at any driver licensing office or online at dol.wa.gov under the
CDL section. Return the completed form to:
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CDL Medical Waiver Program
Department of Licensing
P.O. Box 9030
Olympia WA 98507-9030
FAX: (360)-570-4915
After we confirm the information on your application, requests
for waivers are processed within 7-10 working days and are mailed
directly to the address on the application. Call (360)-902-3619 if you
have questions about intrastate medical waivers.
The waiver may be photocopied and must be carried with your
CDL at all times when you are operating a commercial vehicle. After obtaining a medical waiver, you will be required to obtain a
new license that reflects you are eligible to operate commercial
vehicles only within Washington State. Some employers have
adopted policies to follow only the federal driver qualifications and
they may not accept an intrastate medical waiver.
If your medical condition improves and allows you to meet the
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards,
you will need to complete a new DOT Medical Examination Report
and send it with a letter asking to be removed from the CDL Medical
Waiver Program. Send these to the address above.
Interstate
An Interstate medical waiver is valid in all states. You may be
eligible for this waiver if you:
• Are insulin dependent.
• Have monocular vision.
• Are missing a limb.
• Have impaired use of a hand, arm, leg, or foot.
To apply, and for information, contact FMCSA in person at:
2424 Heritage Drive SW, Suite 302
Olympia WA 98502
by telephone at: (360)-753-9875
by mail to:
FMCSA
PO Box 12509
Olympia WA 98508-2509
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1.4 – Driver Disqualifications
You cannot drive a commercial motor vehicle if you are
disqualified for any reason.
Alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident, and commission of
a felony.
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.
You will lose your CDL for at least 1 year for a first offense for:
• Driving a CMV if your blood alcohol concentration is .04% or
higher.
• Driving a CMV under the influence of alcohol.
• Refusing a blood alcohol test.
• 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 the CDL is suspended.
• Causing a fatality through negligent operation of a CMV.
You will lose your CDL for at least 3 years if the offense occurs
while you are operating a CMV that is placarded for hazardous
materials.
You will lose your CDL for life:
• For a second offense.
• 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%.
Serious traffic violations
If convicted or if you are found to have committed 2 serious traffic
violations within 3 years while operating either your personal vehicle
or a commercial vehicle, you may lose your license for 60 days. A
third conviction within 3 years results in a 120-day disqualification.
Serious traffic violations include:
• Excessive speed–15 mph over posted limit.
• Reckless driving.
• Negligent driving.
• Improper lane changes.
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• Driving a CMV without earning a CDL.
• Driving a CMV without a CDL in your immediate possession.
• Driving a CMV without the proper class or endorsement for
the type of vehicle being operated.
• Following too closely.
• Violating a state or local law relating to motor-vehicle traffic
control, other than a parking violation arising in connection with
an accident or collision resulting in the death of any person.
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-ofservice violation order.
• 1 year if you have committed 2 out-of-service violation orders
in a 10-year period.
• 3 years if you have committed 3 or more out-of-service
violation orders in a 10-year period.
Violating an out-of-service order while you operate a commercial
vehicle placarded and carrying hazardous materials or transporting
passengers will result in disqualification periods that increase
severely with each offense, and the disqualification period for a firsttime offense will be doubled. Any violations beyond the first may
result in a loss of your CDL for up to 5 years for each conviction.
Railroad-highway grade crossing violations
You will lose your CDL for at least:
• 60 days for your first violation.
• 120 days for your second violation within any 3 year period.
• 1 year for your third violation within any 3 year period.
This includes any of the following six violations at a railroadhighway grade crossing:
• Failing to slow down and check that the tracks are clear of an
approaching train, even if you are not required to stop.
• Failing to stop before reaching the crossing if the tracks are
not clear, even if you are not always required to stop.
• Failing to stop before driving onto the crossing when you are
always required to stop.
• Failing to drive completely over the crossing because you did
not stop when there was too little space to finish the crossing.
• Failing to obey crossing arms or signals, a traffic control
device, or the directions of a police officer at a crossing.
• Failing to clear the crossing because of too little undercarriage
clearance.
1-15
Impound
If you operate any vehicle without having the required class or
endorsement, the vehicle may be impounded.
Hazardous materials endorsement background check
and disqualifications
To get a hazardous materials endorsement, you must 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.
• Renounce 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 judged to be a mental defective or have been
committed to a mental institution.
• Are considered to pose a security threat as determined by the
Transportation Security Administration.
We will give you all of the information you need to complete the
required TSA background check procedures.
Traffic violations in your personal vehicle
The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act (MCSIA) of
1999 requires a CDL holder to be disqualified from operating a
commercial motor vehicle if the CDL holder has been convicted of
certain types of moving violations in their personal vehicle.
If your privilge to operate your personal vehicle is revoked,
cancelled, or suspended due to violations of traffic control laws
(other than parking violations), you will also lose your CDL driving
privilges.
If your privilge to operate your personal vehicle is revoked,
cancelled, or suspended due to alcohol violations, you will lose your
CDL for one year. If you are convicted of a second alcohol conviction
in your personal vehicle or CMV, you will lose your CDL for life.
Disqualification
There is no Occupational/Restricted Driver License available
for the operation of a commercial motor vehicle. Due to federal
regulations, if a CDL holder enters into a deferred prosecution for
an alcohol or drug offense, there is no stay of any administrative
CDL suspension, revocation, denial, or disqualification based on
the same incident, regardless if the incident was committed in
1-16
a private or a commercial motor vehicle. Entry into a deferred
prosecution program may still stay the administrative suspension,
revocation, or denial of the personal driver license–unless there
has been a breath or blood test refusal–but the CDL must still be
surrendered.
You may be eligible to get your CDL again when the
disqualification period has ended. If you lose your CDL for one
year or longer, you must first pay all required fees and successfully
complete both the CDL knowledge and skill tests to be reinstated.
If your CDL has been disqualified for more than one year, you will
also be required to provide proof of commercial driver training.
You may also be disqualified from driving a commercial motor
vehicle for one year if we receive a report from FMCSA showing
that your driving behavior is a threat to public safety.
Drugs and alcohol
The law requires medical review officers and breath alcohol
technicians to report positive drug and alcohol findings, refused
tests, and failure to appear for testing. When we receive a report,
the CDL holder is disqualified from driving a commercial motor
vehicle. You will be disqualified when we receive a report from any
of the following screenings:
• Pre-employment
• Random
• Reasonable suspicion
• Post accident
• Return to duty
• Follow-up
The disqualification will remain in effect until you undergo a drug/
alcohol assessment performed by a substance abuse professional
(SAP) who meets federal certification standards. You must present
evidence of satisfactory participation or successful completion of
any treatment and/or program recommended by the SAP.
You may request a hearing to challenge the disqualification
within 20 days from the Date of Notice you receive from us.
1.5 – Nationwide CDL Rules
These rules affect commercial drivers in all states:
• You cannot have more than one license. If you break this rule,
a court may fine you up to $5,000 or put you in jail and keep
your home state license and return any others.
1-17
• 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 us, in writing, of all out-of-state traffic
convictions within 30 days of the conviction. For your
convenience, an Out-of-State Traffic Conviction Report is
available at www.dol.wa.gov.
• You must file proof of financial responsibility with us if
your personal driving privilege is suspended or revoked. If
suspended or revoked, your commercial driving privilege
may be disqualified. Filing must include a letter from your
employer’s insurance company proving that you are insured to
operate commercial vehicles.
• You must notify your employer within two business days 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 ten years. You must do this when
you apply for a commercial driving job.
• No one is allowed to 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
surrender it to–and notify–the state that issued your CDL:
-- Within 24 hours of any conviction or indictment–or if found
not guilty by reason of insanity–in any jurisdiction, civilian or
military, for a disqualifying crime listed in 49 CFR 1572.103.
-- If you have been judged to be a mental defective or committed
to a mental institution as specified in 49 CFR 1572.109.
-- If you renounce your 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 your employer up to $5,000 or put them in
jail for breaking this rule.
All states are connected to one computerized system to share
information about CDL drivers. The states will check accident
records to be sure drivers don’t have more than one CDL.
You must be properly restrained with a seat belt at all times while
operating a commercial motor vehicle. The seat belt holds the driver
securely behind the wheel during a crash, helping the driver control
the vehicle and reduces the chance of serious injury or death. If you
do not wear a seat belt, you are four times more likely to be fatally
injured if you are thrown from the vehicle.
1-18
Test your knowledge
1. Can you drive a commercial vehicle after drinking one beer with
lunch?
2. If your driver license is suspended, when do you have to tell
your employer?
3. Do you need to inform your employer of convictions for traffic
violations you receive in your personal vehicle?
4. What traffic convictions are you required to report to us?
5. Can you lose your CDL for offenses committed in your personal
vehicle?
These questions may be on the test. Answers are in Section 1.4
and 1.5.
1.6 – Washington State Laws and Rules
All commercial drivers are required to know the state laws
limiting the size and weight of vehicles and loads. You must stop at
open weigh stations for weighing and inspection. Washington State
Patrol (WSP) Troopers, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers
(CVEO), and local law enforcement officers all have the authority to
stop drivers on the road to conduct inspections. Violations for being
oversized or overweight, for operating defective equipment, or for
lacking the proper licenses and permits can result in citations and
fines. If you ignore open weigh stations you may be cited and fined.
Length
Maximum legal length:
• For school buses and other single motor vehicles, except
certain municipal transport buses, is 40 feet.
• For auto stages is 46 feet and includes front and rear
bumpers.
• For a single vehicle or trailer in a combination, with or without
load, is 53 feet.
• For double-trailer combinations can’t exceed a total of 61 feet
for the combined length of the trailers.
• For truck and trailer combinations or log truck and stingersteered pole trailers, with or without load, cannot exceed an
overall length of 75 feet.
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The above limitations don’t apply to:
• Vehicles transporting poles, pipes, and machinery.
• Vehicles transporting structural objects that cannot be taken
apart.
• Vehicles operated by a public utility when making emergency
repairs of public services or properties.
Loads may not extend more than 15 feet behind the center of
the last axle or more than 3 feet beyond the front bumper. Any load
extending beyond the sides or more than 4 feet beyond the rear
of the vehicle must have the extending portion marked with either
12-inch red flags or with red lights. If visibility is poor, red lamps and
reflectors are required. When you haul objects such as poles or logs
you must place a red light at the most extended point of the load.
This light must be a combination light visible from the back and both
sides.
Width
No vehicle, with or without its load, may be more than 8-1/2 feet–
102 inches–wide. Rearview mirrors may extend to no more than 5
inches beyond the extreme limits of the body. All other equipment,
including all safety equipment and parts such as door handles, door
hinges, mud flaps, fender extensions, and turn-signal brackets may
reach no more than 3 inches beyond the extreme limits of the body.
Height
No vehicle, including its load, may be more than 14 feet high.
This limit does not apply to emergency vehicles or utility repair
equipment.
Even though you know the height of your vehicle or load, always
make sure there is enough clearance, especially when driving in
unfamiliar areas or in bad weather. When you are approaching a
tunnel or an overpass on a new route, and there is no clearance
sign visible, safely pull off the road and check the clearance height.
Ice, snow, or road repairs may reduce a clearance that is normally
enough to pass beneath.
Weight
The allowable gross weight of a bus or truck depends on tire
size, the number of axles, and the spacing of axles (or axle groups).
No vehicle may operate on public highways with a gross weight–
including load–that is more than 600 pounds per inch of tire width
concentrated on 1 tire. For example, a tire size 10.00 – 22 is 10
inches wide and may carry 6,000 pounds. Axles carrying more
1-20
than 10,000 pounds and equipped with single tires are limited to
500 pounds per inch of tire width. For exemptions, contact WSP
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.
Maximum weights for commercial vehicles in Washington are:
• 20,000 pounds on any single axle, depending on tire size.
• 34,000 pounds on tandem axles spaced less than 7 feet apart.
• 40,000 pounds for any single-unit vehicle supported by 3 or
more axles.
• 80,000 pounds for any combination of vehicles.
Permits
The Department of Transportation may approve and issue
permits to allow oversized and overweight vehicles–other than
school buses–to operate on state highways. Contact the proper
county or city official for oversize and overweight permits on county
roads or city streets.
To get a special permit, you must show that:
• The only practical means of transporting certain cargo is by
motor vehicle.
• The vehicle and load are properly licensed.
• The load cannot reasonably be taken apart.
Before a permit is issued, the application will be reviewed to
assess any possible:
• Disruption to traffic flows.
• Threat to public safety.
• Damage to the highway system.
If the application is approved, you will need to pay a fee based
on the length of the permit period and, for overweight vehicles, the
amount of weight that is over the legal maximum.
For information on special permits, you may request the
publication: Overweight/Oversize Vehicle Permits, from any
Washington State Department of Transportation Office or write to:
Permit Office
Maintenance and Operations Group
Transportation Building
Olympia WA 98504
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Tire chains
All vehicles or combinations of vehicles must carry enough
tire chains while operating in any mountain pass or in any “chain/
approved traction device control area” designated by either the
Washington State Department of Transportation or the Washington
State Patrol. Chains must be carried on all vehicles over 10,000
pounds (GVWR) from November 1 to April 1 of each year or at
other times when chains are required for such vehicles.
Speed limits
Unless otherwise posted, the maximum allowable speed for
trucks and buses is:
• 60 mph on interstate and Washington State highways–70 mph
for auto-stages.
• 50 mph on county roads.
• 25 mph on city and town streets.
Posted signs showing lower limits must be obeyed.
Right lane rule
When you are driving a heavy vehicle or combination, travel in
the right lane except when preparing to turn left or when passing
another vehicle.
Left lane rule
No vehicle or combination over 10,000 pounds may be driven
in the left-hand lane of a limited access roadway having 3 or more
lanes for traffic moving in one direction except when preparing for
a left turn at an intersection, exit, or onto a private road or driveway
when a left turn is legally allowed.
Slow vehicle rule
If you are driving a slow-moving vehicle on a two-lane highway
and five or more vehicles behind you are delayed and unable to
pass, you must pull off the roadway at the first safe and available
turnout. A turnout may be an extended shoulder where you can
keep your present speed, or a small area off the roadway where
you can stop before returning to the roadway.
Don’t try to pass more than one vehicle at a time when you are
driving on a two-lane highway. When you are traveling with another
truck or bus in a convoy, leave enough space between vehicles in
the convoy for others to pull back into the lane safely.
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Hours of service
All commercial drivers of private or common carriers within the
state of Washington and all interstate commercial drivers must obey
laws and regulations governing maximum driving and on duty time.
Hours of service rules for property-carrying drivers are:
• You may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive
hours off duty.
• You cannot drive beyond the 14th hour after coming on duty,
following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
• You must not drive after 60 hours on duty in 7 consecutive
days.
• You must not drive after 70 hours on duty in 8 consecutive
days.
• A driver may restart a 7 or 8 consecutive day period after
taking 34 or more consecutive hours off duty.
• Commercial drivers using the sleeper berth provision must
take at least 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth, plus 2
consecutive hours either in the sleeper berth, off duty, or in
any combination of both.
Hours of service rules for passenger-carrying drivers are:
• You must not drive more than 10 hours following 8 consecutive
hours off duty.
• You must not drive for any period after having been on duty for
15 hours following 8 consecutive hours off duty.
• You must not drive after having been on duty 60 hours in any
7 consecutive days.
• You must not drive after having been on duty 70 hours in any
8 consecutive days.
It is your responsibility to record–in duplicate–every 24-hour
period of duty status in a driver’s logbook. Keep a copy of each
record of duty status for the previous 7 consecutive days. This
record must be in your possession and must be available for
inspection while on duty. Logbooks are subject to inspection by law
enforcement officials. If you have questions about hours of service,
contact:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(360)-753-9875
Online: www.fmsca.dot.gov–click on the link for hours of service.
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Washington State Patrol
(360)-753-0350
Online: www.wsp.wa.gov
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission
(360)-664-1222
Online: www.wutc.wa.gov
The Washington Administrative Code for private carriers covers
the exceptions to these limitations.
Accident reporting
If your vehicle is involved in a collision, stop immediately. If
anyone is hurt and needs or requests aid, help them. Exchange
information with everyone involved in the collision. If the collision
caused injury to anyone or if the damage amounts to $700 or more,
file a state Vehicle Collision Report within 4 days with the municipal
police, the local sheriff, or the Washington State Patrol.
Test your knowledge
1. What is the maximum length for a single vehicle? What is the
maximum length for a combination truck and single trailer?
2. What is the maximum vehicle width allowed without a permit?
3. What is the maximum weight for a single-unit vehicle supported
by three axles? What is the maximum weight for a combination
of vehicles?
4. What is the maximum vehicle height allowed without a permit?
5. Who should you contact for an overweight/oversize vehicle
permit?
6. When are you required to carry chains?
7. What are the maximum speed limits for trucks?
8. What is the slow vehicle rule?
9. What should you do if traveling in convoy with other vehicles?
10. How many hours may you legally drive?
11. How many hours may you legally be on duty?
These questions may be on the test. Answers are in Section 1.6.
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Driving Safely
This section covers:
• 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. When preparing for the Pre-trip Inspection
2-1
Test, you must review the material in Section 11 in addition to the
information in this section. This section does have basic information
on hazardous materials (HazMat) that all drivers should know. If you
need a HazMat endorsement, you should study Section 9.
2.1 – Vehicle Inspection
Why Inspect
Safety is the most important reason you inspect your vehicle,
safety for yourself and for other road users.
A vehicle defect found during an inspection could save you
problems later. You could have a breakdown on the road that will
cost time and dollars, or even worse, a crash caused by the defect.
Federal and state laws require that drivers inspect their vehicles.
Federal and state inspectors also may inspect your vehicles. If they
judge the vehicle to be unsafe, they will put it “out of service” until it
is fixed.
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, wheels and rims.
-- Brakes.
-- Lights and reflectors.
-- Brake and electrical connections to trailer.
-- Trailer coupling devices.
-- Cargo securement devices.
After-trip inspection and report. You should do an after-trip
inspection at the end of the trip, day, or tour of duty on each vehicle
you operated. It may include filling out a vehicle condition report
listing any problems you find. The inspection report helps a motor
carrier know when the vehicle needs repairs.
2-2
What to Look For
Tire problems
• Too much or too little air pressure.
• Bad wear. You need at least 4/32-inch tread depth in every
major groove on front tires. You need 2/32 inch on other tires.
No fabric should show through the tread or sidewall.
• Cuts or other damage.
• Tread separation.
• Dual tires that come in contact with each other or parts of the
vehicle.
• Mismatched sizes.
• Radial and bias-ply tires used together.
• Cut or cracked valve stems.
• Regrooved, recapped, or retreaded tires on the front wheels of
a bus. These are prohibited.
Wheel and rim problems
• Damaged rims.
• Rust around wheel nuts may mean the nuts are loose – check
tightness. After a tire has been changed, stop a short while
later and recheck tightness of nuts.
• Missing clamps, spacers, studs, or lugs means danger.
• Mismatched, bent, or cracked lock rings are dangerous.
• Wheels or rims that have had welding repairs are not safe.
Bad brake drums or shoes
• Cracked drums.
• Shoes or pads with oil, grease, or brake fluid on them.
• Shoes 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.
• Steering wheel play of more than 10 degrees (approximately 2
inches movement at the rim of a 20-inch steering wheel) can
make it hard to steer.
Figure 2.1 illustrates a typical steering system.
2-3
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.
• Cracked or broken spring hangers. The mounts should be
checked at each point where they are secured to the vehicle
frame and axles.
• Missing or broken leaves in any leaf spring. If one-fourth or
more are missing, it will put the vehicle “out of service”, but
any defect could be dangerous. See Figure 2.3.
• 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 rod or arm, u-bolts, spring hangers, or other axle
positioning parts that are cracked, damaged, or missing.
• Air suspension systems that are damaged and/or leaking. See
Figure 2.4.
• Any loose, cracked, broken, or missing frame members.
Steering wheel
Tie rod
Steering
shaft
Power steering
cylinder
Steering arm
Hydraulic fluid
reservoir
Gear box
Drag link
Pitman arm
Figure 2.1
Steering system
2-4
Steering knuckle
Spindle
Hydraulic shock absorber
Vehicle frame
Leaf spring
Frame
Front axle hanger
Bearing plates
Auxiliary spring
Main spring
Torque rod
Spring shackle
Axle
Figure 2.2
Key suspension parts
Broken leaf
Main spring
Axle
Figure 2.3
Safety defect: Broken leaf in spring
2-5
Height control valve
Frame reinforcement
Shock absorber
Upper bellows support
Clamp
box
Bracket
Spacer
U-bolts
Bellows
Eye bolt
Axle
Control arm
Axle seat
Anchor plate
Lower
bellows
support
Front
Figure 2.4
Air suspension parts
Exhaust system defects. A broken exhaust system can let
poison fumes into the cab or sleeper berth. Look for:
• Loose, broken, or missing exhaust pipes, mufflers, tailpipes, or
vertical stacks.
• Loose, broken, or missing mounting brackets, clamps, bolts,
or nuts.
• Exhaust system parts rubbing against fuel system parts, tires,
or other moving parts of vehicle.
• Exhaust system parts that are leaking.
Emergency equipment. Vehicles must be equipped with
emergency equipment. Look for:
• Fire extinguisher(s).
• Spare electrical fuses (unless equipped with circuit breakers).
• Warning devices for parked vehicles (for example, three
reflective warning triangles).
Cargo (Trucks). You must make sure the truck is not overloaded
and the cargo is balanced and secured before each trip. If the cargo
contains hazardous materials, you must inspect for proper papers
and placarding.
CDL Pre-trip Vehicle Inspection Test
In order to obtain a CDL you will be required to pass a pretrip vehicle inspection test. You will be tested to see if you know
whether your vehicle is safe to drive. You will be asked to do a
pre-trip inspection of your vehicle and explain to the tester what you
2-6
would inspect and why. The following seven-step inspection method
should be useful.
Seven-step Inspection Method
Method of inspection. You should do a pre-trip inspection the
same way each time so you will learn all the steps and be less likely
to forget something.
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.).
Vehicle Inspection Guide
Step 1: Vehicle overview
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 2: Check engine compartment
Check that the parking brakes are on and/or wheels
chocked. You may have to raise the hood, tilt the cab (secure loose
things so they don’t fall and break something), or open the engine
compartment door. Check the following:
• Engine oil level.
• Coolant level in radiator; condition of hoses.
• Power steering fluid level; hose condition (if so equipped).
• Windshield washer fluid level.
• Battery fluid level, connections, and tie downs (battery may be
located elsewhere).
• Automatic transmission fluid level (may require 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 right, and check each one.
• Leaks in the engine compartment (fuel, coolant, oil, power
steering fluid, hydraulic fluid, battery fluid).
• Cracked, worn electrical wiring insulation.
Lower and secure hood, cab, or engine compartment door.
2-7
Step 3: Start engine and inspect inside the cab
Get in and start engine
• Make sure parking brake is on.
• Put gearshift in neutral (or “park” if automatic).
• Start engine; listen for unusual noises.
• If equipped, check the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
indicator lights. Light on dash should come on and then turn
off. If it stays on the ABS is not working properly. For trailers
only, if the yellow light on the left rear of the trailer stays on,
the ABS is not working properly. Look at the gauges
• Oil pressure. Should come up to normal within seconds after
engine is started. See Figure 2.5.
• Air pressure. Pressure should build from 50 to 90 psi within
3 minutes. Build air pressure to governor cut-out (usually
around 100 – 125 psi. Know your vehicles requirements. • Ammeter and/or voltmeter. Should be in normal range(s).
• 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. Oil, coolant, charging circuit
warning, and antilock brake system 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.
-- Trailer brake (if vehicle has one).
-- Parking brake.
-- Retarder controls (if vehicle has them).
• Transmission controls.
• Interaxle differential lock (if vehicle has one).
• Horn(s).
2-8
• Windshield wiper/washer.
• Lights.
-- Headlights.
-- Dimmer switch.
-- Turn signal.
-- Four-way flashers.
-- Parking, clearance, identification, marker switch(es).
Oil pressure
• Idling 5-20 PSI
• Operating 35-75 PSI
• Low, dropping, fluctuating:
ENG OIL
Pressure
Stop immediately!
Without oil the engine can be
destroyed rapidly.
Figure 2.5
Oil pressure
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).
-- Three red reflective triangles.
-- Properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
• Check for optional items such as:
-- Chains (where winter conditions require).
-- Tire changing equipment.
• List of emergency phone numbers.
• Accident reporting kit (packet).
Check seat belt
• Check that the seat belt is:
-- Securely mounted.
-- Adjusts and latches properly.
-- Not ripped or frayed.
2-9
Step 4: Turn off engine and check lights
Make sure the parking brake is set, turn off the engine, and take
the key with you. Turn on headlights (low beams) and four-way
emergency flashers, and get out of the vehicle.
Step 5: Do walkaround inspection
Checks of brake, turn signal and four-way flasher lights must be
done separately.
• Go to front of vehicle and check that low beams are on and
both of the four-way flashers are working.
• Push dimmer switch and check that high beams work.
• Turn off headlights and four-way emergency flashers.
• Turn on parking, clearance, side-marker, and identification
lights.
• Turn on right turn signal, and start walk-around inspection.
General
• Walk around and inspect.
• Clean all lights, reflectors, and glass as you go along.
Left front side
• Driver’s door glass should be clean.
• Door latches or locks should work properly.
• Left front wheel.
-- Condition of wheel and rim – missing, bent, broken studs,
clamps, lugs, or any signs of misalignment.
-- Condition of tires – properly inflated, valve stem and cap OK,
no serious cuts, bulges, or tread wear.
-- Use wrench to test rust-streaked lug nuts, indicating
looseness.
-- Hub oil level OK, no leaks.
• Left front suspension.
-- Condition of spring, spring hangers, shackles, u-bolts.
-- Shock absorber condition.
• Left front brake.
-- Condition of brake drum or disc.
-- Condition of hoses.
Front
• Condition of front axle.
• Condition of steering system.
-- No loose, worn, bent, damaged or missing parts.
-- Must grab steering mechanism to test for looseness.
2-10
• Condition of windshield.
-- Check for damage and clean if dirty.
-- Check windshield wiper arms for proper spring tension.
-- Check wiper blades for damage, “stiff” rubber, and
securement.
• Lights and reflectors.
-- Parking, clearance, and identification lights clean,
operating, and proper color (amber at front).
-- Reflectors clean and proper color (amber at front).
-- Right front turn signal light clean, operating, and proper
color (amber or white on signals facing forward).
Right side
• Right front: check all items as done on left front.
• Primary and secondary safety cab locks engaged (if cab-overengine design).
• Right fuel tank(s).
-- Securely mounted, not damaged, or leaking.
-- Fuel crossover line secure.
-- Tank(s) contain enough fuel.
-- Cap(s) on and secure.
• Condition of visible parts.
-- Rear of engine – not leaking.
-- Transmission – not leaking.
-- Exhaust system – secure, not leaking, not touching wires,
fuel, or air lines.
-- Frame and cross members – no bends or cracks.
-- Air lines and electrical wiring – secured against snagging,
rubbing, wearing.
-- Spare tire carrier or rack not damaged (if so equipped).
-- Spare tire and/or wheel securely mounted in rack.
-- Spare tire and wheel adequate (proper size, properly inflated).
• Cargo securement (trucks).
-- Cargo properly blocked, braced, tied, chained, etc.
-- Header board adequate, secure (if required).
-- Side boards, stakes strong enough, free of damage,
properly set in place (if so equipped).
-- Canvas or tarp (if required) properly secured to prevent
tearing, billowing, or blocking of mirrors.
-- If oversize, all required signs (flags, lamps, and reflectors)
safely and properly mounted and all required permits in
driver’s possession.
-- Curbside cargo compartment doors in good condition,
securely closed, latched/locked and required security seals
in place.
2-11
Right rear
• Condition of wheels and rims – no missing, bent, or broken
spacers, studs, clamps, or lugs.
• Condition of tires – properly inflated, valve stems and caps OK,
no serious cuts, bulges, tread wear, tires not rubbing each
other, and nothing stuck between them.
• Tires same type, e.g., not mixed radial and bias types.
• Tires evenly matched (same sizes).
• Wheel bearing/seals not leaking.
• Suspension.
-- Condition of spring(s), spring hangers, shackles, and
u-bolts.
-- Axle secure.
-- Powered axle(s) not leaking lube (gear oil).
-- Condition of torque rod arms, bushings.
-- 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.
-- Brake adjustment.
-- Condition of brake drum(s) or discs.
-- Condition of hoses – look for any wear due to rubbing.
• Lights and reflectors.
-- Side-marker lights clean, operating, and proper color (red
at rear, others amber).
-- Side-marker reflectors clean and proper color (red at rear,
others amber).
Rear
• Lights and reflectors.
-- Rear clearance and identification lights clean, operating,
and proper color (red at rear).
-- Reflectors clean and proper color (red at rear).
-- Taillights clean, operating, and proper color (red at rear).
-- Right rear turn signal operating, and proper color (red,
yellow, or amber at rear).
• License plate(s) present, clean, and secured.
• Splash guards present, not damaged, properly fastened, not
dragging on ground, or rubbing tires.
• Cargo secure (trucks).
• Cargo properly blocked, braced, tied, chained, etc.
• Tailboards up and properly secured.
• End gates free of damage, properly secured in stake sockets.
2-12
• Canvas or tarp (if required) properly secured to prevent
tearing, billowing, or blocking of either the rearview mirrors or
rear lights.
• If over-length, or over-width, make sure all signs and/or
additional lights/flags are safely and properly mounted and all
required permits are in driver’s possession.
• Rear doors securely closed, latched/locked.
Left side
• Check all items as done on right side, plus:
-- Battery(ies) (if not mounted in engine compartment).
-- Battery box(es) securely mounted to vehicle.
-- Box has secure cover.
-- Battery(ies) secured against movement.
-- Battery(ies) not broken or leaking.
-- Fluid in battery(ies) at proper level (except maintenancefree type).
-- Cell caps present and securely tightened (except
maintenance-free type).
-- Vents in cell caps free of foreign material (except
maintenance-free type).
Step 6: Check signal lights
Get in and turn off lights
• Turn off all lights.
• Turn on stop lights (apply trailer hand brake or have a helper
put on the brake pedal).
• Turn on left turn signal lights.
Get out and check lights
• Left front turn signal light clean, operating and proper color
(amber or white on signals facing the front).
• Left rear turn signal light and both stop lights clean, operating,
and proper color (red, yellow, or amber).
Get in vehicle
• Turn off lights not needed for driving.
• Check for all required papers, trip manifests, permits, etc.
• Secure all loose articles in cab (they might interfere with
operation of the controls or hit you in a crash).
• Start the engine.
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Step 7: Start the engine and check
Test for hydraulic leaks. If the vehicle has hydraulic brakes,
pump the brake pedal three times. Then apply firm pressure to
the pedal and hold for five seconds. The pedal should not move. If
it does, there may be a leak or other problem. Get it fixed before
driving. If the vehicle has air brakes, do the checks described in
Sections 5 and 6 of this manual.
Brake system
Test parking brake(s)
• Fasten seat belt.
• Set parking brake (power unit only).
• Release trailer parking brake (if applicable).
• Place vehicle into a low gear.
• Gently pull forward against parking brake to make sure the
parking brake holds.
• Repeat the same steps for the trailer with trailer parking brake
set and power unit parking brakes released (if applicable).
• If it doesn’t hold vehicle, it is faulty; get it fixed.
Test service brake stopping action
• Go about five miles per hour.
• Push brake pedal firmly.
• “Pulling” to one side or the other can mean brake trouble.
• Any unusual brake pedal “feel” or delayed stopping action can
mean trouble.
If you find anything unsafe during the pre-trip inspection, get it
fixed. Federal and state laws forbid operating an unsafe vehicle.
Inspection During a Trip
Check vehicle operation regularly
You should check:
• Instruments.
• Air pressure gauge (if you have air brakes).
• Temperature gauges.
• Pressure gauges.
• Ammeter/voltmeter.
• Mirrors.
• Tires.
• Cargo, cargo covers.
• Lights.
2-14
If you see, hear, smell, or feel anything that might mean trouble,
check it out.
Safety inspection. Drivers of trucks and truck tractors when
transporting cargo must inspect the securement of the cargo within
the first 50 miles of a trip and every 150 miles or every three hours
(whichever comes first) after.
After-trip Inspection and Report
You may have to make a written report each day on the condition
of the vehicle(s) you drove. Report anything affecting safety or
possibly leading to mechanical breakdown.
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 walkaround inspection.
8. What should wheel bearing seals be checked for?
9. How many red reflective triangles should you carry?
10. How do you test hydraulic brakes for leaks?
11. Why put the starter switch key in your pocket during the pre-trip
inspection?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t answer them
all, reread subsection 2.1.
2-15
2.2 – Basic Control of Your Vehicle
To drive a vehicle safely, you must be able to control its speed
and direction. Safe operation of a commercial vehicle requires skill
in:
• Accelerating.
• Steering.
• Stopping.
• Backing safely.
Fasten your seatbelt any time you move your vehicle. Apply the
parking brake when you leave your vehicle.
Accelerating
Don’t roll back when you start. You may hit someone 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 only when you have applied enough engine power
to keep from rolling back. On a tractor-trailer equipped with a trailer
brake hand valve, the hand valve can be applied to keep from
rolling back.
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 (chuckhole), the wheel could pull away from your hands
unless you have a firm hold.
Stopping
Push the brake pedal down gradually. The amount of brake
pressure you need to stop the vehicle will depend on the speed of
the vehicle and how quickly you need to stop. Control the pressure
so the vehicle comes to a smooth, safe stop. If you have a manual
transmission, push the clutch in when the engine is close to idle.
2-16
Backing Safely
Because you cannot see everything behind your vehicle, backing
is always dangerous. Avoid backing whenever you can. When you
park, try to park so you will be able to pull forward when you leave.
When you have to back, here are a few simple safety rules:
• Start in the proper position.
• Look at your path.
• Use mirrors on both sides.
• Turn on four-way flashers.
• Sound your horn if the vehicle does not have a backup
warning device.
• Back slowly.
• Back and turn toward the driver’s side whenever possible.
• Use a helper whenever possible.
• These rules are discussed in turn below.
Start in the proper position. Put the vehicle in the best position
to allow you to back safely. This position will depend on the type of
backing to be done.
Look at your path. Look at your line of travel before you begin.
Get out and walk around the vehicle. Check your clearance to the
sides and overhead, in and near the path your vehicle will take.
Use mirrors on both sides. Check the outside mirrors on both
sides frequently. Get out of the vehicle and check your path if you
are unsure.
Turn on four-way flashers.
Sound your horn if the vehicle does not have a backup warning
device. This warns other traffic and pedestrians.
Back slowly. Always back as slowly as possible. Use the lowest
reverse gear. That way you can more 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 better. Backing toward the right side is very
dangerous because you can’t see as well. If you back and turn
toward the driver’s side, you can watch the rear of your vehicle
by looking out the side window. Use driver-side backing – even if it
means going around the block to put your vehicle in this position.
The added safety is worth it.
2-17
Use a helper. Use a helper when you can. There are blind spots
you can’t see. That’s why a helper is important. The helper should
stand near the back of your vehicle where you can see the helper.
Before you begin backing, work out a set of hand signals that you
both understand. Agree on a signal for “stop.”
2.3 – Shifting Gears
Correct shifting of gears is important. If you can’t get your vehicle
into the right gear while driving, you will have less control.
Manual Transmissions
Basic method for shifting up. Most heavy vehicles with manual
transmissions require double clutching to change gears. This is the
basic method:
1. Release accelerator, push in clutch and shift to neutral at the
same time.
2. Release clutch.
3. Let engine and gears slow down to the rpm required for the
next gear (this takes practice).
4. Push in clutch and shift to the higher gear at the same time.
5. 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, don’t 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’s right for the vehicle you will
operate.)
• Use road speed (mph). Learn what speeds each gear is
good for. Then, by using the speedometer, you’ll know when to
shift up.
With either method, you may learn to use engine sounds to know
when to shift.
2-18
Basic procedures for shifting down
1. Release accelerator, push in clutch, and shift to neutral at the
same time.
2. Release clutch.
3. Press accelerator, increase engine and gear speed to the rpm
required in the lower gear.
4. Push in clutch and shift to lower gear at the same time.
5. Release clutch and press accelerator at the same time.
Downshifting, like upshifting, requires knowing when to shift. Use
either the tachometer or the speedometer and downshift at the right
rpm or road speed.
Special conditions where you should downshift are:
• 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 to climb
the same hill.
• 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 right
way to shift gears in the vehicle you will drive.
Automatic Transmissions
Some vehicles have automatic transmissions. You can select a
low range to get greater engine braking when going down grades.
The lower ranges prevent the transmission from shifting up beyond
the selected gear (unless the governor rpm is exceeded). It is very
important to use this braking effect when going down grades.
Retarders
Some vehicles have “retarders.” Retarders help slow a vehicle,
reducing the need for using your brakes. They reduce brake wear
2-19
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.
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.
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 can’t answer them all,
reread subsections 2.2 and 2.3.
2.4 – Seeing
To be a safe driver you need to know what’s going on all around
your vehicle. Not looking properly is a major cause of accidents.
Seeing Ahead
All drivers look ahead; but many don’t look far enough ahead.
Importance of looking far enough ahead. Because stopping or
changing lanes can take a lot of distance, knowing what the traffic
is doing on all sides of you is very important. You need to look well
ahead to make sure you have room to make these moves safely.
2-20
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’s about one
block. At highway speeds it’s about a quarter of a mile. If you’re not
looking that far ahead, you may have to stop too quickly or make
quick lane changes. Looking 12 to 15 seconds ahead doesn’t mean
not paying attention to things that are closer. Good drivers shift their
attention back and forth, near and far. Figure 2.6 illustrates how far
to look ahead.
City driving
12-15 seconds is about one block
Open highway
12-15 seconds is about 1/4 mile
Figure 2.6
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 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’s important to know what’s going on behind and to the sides.
Check your mirrors regularly. Check more often in special situations.
Mirror adjustment. Mirror adjustment should be checked prior
to the start of any trip and can only be checked accurately when the
2-21
trailer(s) are straight. You should check and adjust each mirror to
show some part of the vehicle. This will give you a reference point
for judging the position of the other images.
Regular checks. You need to make regular checks of your
mirrors to be aware of traffic and to check your vehicle.
Traffic. Check your mirrors for vehicles on either side and 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’re carrying open cargo,
you can use the mirrors to check it. Look for loose straps, ropes, or
chains. Watch for a flapping or ballooning tarp.
Special situations. Special situations require more than regular
mirror checks. These are lane changes, turns, merges, and tight
maneuvers.
Lane changes. You need to check your 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, to check that no one has moved into
your blind spot.
• Right after you start the lane change, to double-check that
your path is clear.
• After you complete the lane change.
Turns. In turns, check your mirrors to make sure the rear of your
vehicle will not hit anything.
Merges. When merging, use your mirrors to make sure the gap
in traffic is large enough for you to enter safely.
Tight maneuvers. Any time you are driving in close quarters,
check your mirrors often. Make sure you have enough clearance.
2-22
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. Don’t focus on the mirrors for too long. Otherwise, you will
travel quite a distance without knowing what’s happening ahead.
Many large vehicles have curved (convex, “fisheye,” “spot,”
“bugeye”) mirrors that show a wider area than flat mirrors. This is
often helpful. But everything appears smaller in a convex mirror
than it would if you were looking at it directly. Things also seem
farther away than they really are. It’s important to realize this and
to allow for it. Figure 2.7 shows the field of vision using a convex
mirror.
Field of vision using a convex mirror
Convex
mirror
view
Plane
mirror
view
Blind
spot
area
Plane
mirror
view
Convex
mirror
view
Figure 2.7
2-23
2.5 – Communicating
Signal Your Intentions
Other drivers can’t know what you are going to do until you tell
them.
Signaling what you intend to do is important for safety. Here are
some general rules for signaling.
Turns. There are three good rules for using turn signals:
• 1. Signal early. Signal well before you turn. It is the best way
to keep others from trying to pass you. Turn on your signal at
least 100 feet before the turn.
• 2. Signal continuously. You need both hands on the wheel to
turn safely. Don’t cancel the signal until you have completed
the turn.
• 3. Cancel your signal. Don’t forget to turn off your turn signal
after you’ve turned (if you don’t have self-canceling signals).
Lane changes. Put your turn signal on at least 100 feet before
changing lanes. Change lanes slowly and smoothly. That way a
driver you didn’t see may have a chance to honk his/her horn, or
avoid your vehicle.
Slowing down. Warn drivers behind you when you see you’ll
need to slow down. A few light taps on the brake pedal – enough to
flash the brake lights – should warn following drivers. Use the fourway 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 don’t know how slowly 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. Don’t
stop suddenly.
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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.)
Don’t direct traffic. Some drivers try to help out others by
signaling when it is safe to pass. You should not do this. You could
cause an accident. You could be blamed and it could cost you many
thousands of dollars.
Communicating Your Presence
Other drivers may not notice your vehicle even when it’s in plain
sight. To help prevent accidents, let them know you’re there.
When passing. Whenever you are about to pass a vehicle,
pedestrian, or bicyclist, assume they don’t see you. They could
suddenly move in front of you. When it is legal, tap the horn lightly
or, at night, flash your lights from low to high beam and back. And,
drive carefully enough to avoid a crash even if they don’t see or
hear you.
When it’s hard to see. At dawn, dusk, in rain, or snow, you
need to make yourself easier to see. If you are having trouble
seeing other vehicles, other drivers will have trouble seeing you.
Turn on your lights. Use the headlights, not just the identification or
clearance lights. Use the low beams; high beams can bother people
in the daytime as well as at night.
When parked at the side of the road. When you pull off the
road and stop, be sure to turn on the four-way emergency flashers.
This is important at night. Don’t trust the taillights to give warning.
Drivers have crashed into the rear of a parked vehicle because they
thought it was moving normally.
If you must stop on a road or the shoulder of any road, you must
put out your emergency warning devices within ten minutes. Place
your warning devices at the following locations:
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If you must stop on or by a one-way or divided highway,
place warning devices 10 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet toward the
approaching traffic. See Figure 2.8.
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.
100'
10'
100'
200'
10'
100'
Figure 2.8
One-way or divided highway
Figure 2.9
Two-way or undivided highway
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.
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100'-500'
10'
10'
100'-500'
Figure 2.10
Obstructed view
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’re there. It can help to avoid a crash. Use your horn when
needed. However, it can startle others and could be dangerous
when used unnecessarily.
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 + Effective Stopping
Distance =Total Stopping Distance
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Perception distance. This is the distance your vehicle travels,
in ideal conditions; from the time your eyes see a hazard until
your brain recognizes it. Keep in mind certain mental and physical
conditions can affect your perception distance. It can be affected
greatly depending on visibility and the hazard itself. The average
perception time for an alert driver is about 1 3/4 seconds. At 55
mph, this accounts for 142 feet traveled..
Reaction distance. The distance you will continue to travel, in
ideal conditions; before you physically hit the brakes, in response to
a hazard seen ahead. The average driver has a reaction time of 3/4
second to a second. At 55 mph this accounts for 61 feet traveled.
Braking distance. The distance your vehicle will travel, in ideal
conditions; while you are braking. At 55 mph on dry pavement with
good brakes, it can take about 216 feet.
Effective stopping distance. The total minimum distance your
vehicle has traveled, in ideal conditions; with everything considered,
including perception distance, reaction distance and braking
distance, until you can bring your vehicle to a complete stop. At 55
mph, your vehicle will travel a minimum of 419 feet.
The effect of speed on stopping distance. The faster you
drive, the greater the impact or striking power of your vehicle. When
you double your speed from 20 to 40 mph the impact is four times
greater. The braking distance is also four times longer. Triple the
speed from 20 to 60 and the impact distance is nine times greater.
At 60 mph, your stopping distance is greater than the length of a
football field. Increase the speed to 80 mph and the impact and
braking distance are 16 times greater than at 20 mph. High speeds
greatly increase the severity of crashes and stopping distances. By
slowing down, you can reduce braking distance.
The effect of vehicle weight on stopping distance. The
heavier the vehicle, the more work the brakes must do to stop it,
and the more heat they absorb. But the brakes, tires, springs, and
shock absorbers on heavy vehicles are designed to work best when
the vehicle is fully loaded. Empty trucks require greater stopping
distances because an empty vehicle has less traction.
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Figure 2.11
Matching Speed to the Road Surface
You can’t steer or brake a vehicle unless you have traction.
Traction is friction between the tires and the road. There are some
road conditions that reduce traction and call for lower speeds.
Slippery surfaces. It will take longer to stop, and it will be harder
to turn without skidding, when the road is slippery. 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 onethird (e.g., slow from 55 to about 35 mph) on a wet road. On packed
snow, reduce speed by a half, or more. If the surface is icy, reduce
speed to a crawl and stop driving as soon as you can safely do so.
Identifying slippery surfaces. Sometimes it’s hard to know if
the road is slippery. Here are some signs of slippery roads:
Shaded areas. Shady parts of the road will remain icy and
slippery long after open areas have melted.
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Bridges. When the temperature drops, bridges will freeze before
the road will. Be especially careful when the temperature is close to
32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Melting ice. Slight melting will make ice wet. Wet ice is much
more slippery than ice that is not wet.
Black ice. Black ice is a thin layer that is clear enough that you
can see the road underneath it. It makes the road look wet. Any
time the temperature is below freezing and the road looks wet,
watch out for black ice.
Vehicle icing. An easy way to check for ice is to open the
window and feel the front of the mirror, mirror support, or antenna. If
there’s ice on these, the road surface is probably starting to ice up.
Just after rain begins. Right after it starts to rain, the water
mixes with oil left on the road by vehicles. This makes the road very
slippery. If the rain continues, it will wash the oil away.
Hydroplaning. In some weather, water or slush collects on the
road. When this happens, your vehicle can hydroplane. It’s like
water skiing – the tires lose their contact with the road and have little
or no traction. You may not be able to steer or brake. You can regain
control by releasing the accelerator and pushing in the clutch. This
will slow your vehicle and let the wheels turn freely. If the vehicle
is hydroplaning, do not use the brakes to slow down. If the drive
wheels start to skid, push in the clutch to let them turn freely.
It does not take a lot of water to cause hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 30 mph if there is a lot
of water. Hydroplaning is more likely if tire pressure is low, or the
tread is worn. (The grooves in a tire carry away the water; if they
aren’t deep, they don’t work well.)
Road surfaces where water can collect can create conditions
that cause a vehicle to hydroplane. Watch for clear reflections,
tire splashes, and raindrops on the road. These are indications of
standing water.
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
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have shown that trucks with a high center of gravity can roll over at
the posted speed limit for a curve.
Slow to a safe speed before you enter a curve. Braking in a curve
is dangerous because it is easier to lock the wheels and cause a
skid. Slow down as needed. Don’t ever exceed the posted speed
limit for the curve. Be in a gear that will let you accelerate slightly in
the curve. This will help you keep control.
Speed and Distance Ahead
You should always be able to stop within the distance you can
see ahead. Fog, rain, or other conditions may require that you slow
down to be able to stop in the distance you can see. At night, you
can’t see as far with low beams as you can with high beams. When
you must use low beams, slow down.
Speed and Traffic Flow
When you’re driving in heavy traffic, the safest speed is the
speed of other vehicles. Vehicles going the same direction at the
same speed are not likely to run into one another. In many states,
speed limits are lower for trucks and buses than for cars. It can vary
as much as 15 mph. Use extra caution 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 is to save time.
But, anyone trying to drive faster than the speed of traffic will not be
able to save much time. The risks involved are not worth it. If you
go faster than the speed of other traffic, you’ll 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 a speed limit is posted, or there is a sign indicating “Maximum
Safe Speed,” never exceed the speed shown. Also, look for and
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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 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 don’t allow your speed to creep up as you drive
through long sections of road construction. Decrease your speed
for adverse weather or road conditions. Decrease your speed even
further when a worker is close to the roadway.
Test your knowledge
1. How far ahead does the manual say you should look?
2. What are two main things to look for ahead?
3. What’s your most important way to see the sides and rear of
your vehicle?
4. What does “communicating” mean in safe driving?
5. Where should your reflectors be placed when stopped on a
divided highway?
6. What three things add up to total stopping distance?
7. If you go twice as fast, will your stopping distance increase by
two or four times?
8. 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 can’t answer them all,
reread subsections 2.4, 2.5, and 2.6.
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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.
To have space available when something goes wrong, you
need to manage space. While this is true for all drivers, it is very
important for large vehicles. They take up more space and they
require more space for stopping and turning.
Space Ahead
Of all the space around your vehicle, it is the area ahead of the
vehicle – the space you’re driving into – that is most important.
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 50-foot rig, you’ll need 6 seconds. Over 40 mph,
you’d need 5 seconds for a 40-foot vehicle and 7 seconds for a 60foot 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 thousandand-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’re too close. Drop back a little and count again until
you have 4 seconds of following distance (or 5 seconds, if you’re
going over 40 mph). After a little practice, you will know how far
back you should be. Remember to add 1 second for speeds above
40 mph. Also remember that when the road is slippery, you need
much more space to stop.
2-33
Heavy Vehicle Formula
For timed interval following distance
• 1 second required for each 10 feet of
vehicle length at speeds under 40 mph
• Above 40 mph use same formula, then
add 1 second for the additional speed
40 foot truck (under 40 mph) = 4 seconds
50 foot truck (above 40 mph) = 6 seconds
60 foot truck (above 40 mph) = 7 seconds
Figure 2.12
Space Behind
You can’t stop others from following you too closely. But there are
things you can do to make it safer.
Stay to the right. Heavy vehicles are often tailgated when they
can’t keep up with the speed of traffic. This often happens when
you’re going uphill. If a heavy load is slowing you down, stay in the
right lane if you can. Going uphill, you should not pass another slow
vehicle unless you can get around quickly and safely.
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Dealing with tailgaters safely. In a large vehicle, it’s often hard
to see whether a vehicle is close behind you. You may be tailgated:
• When you are traveling slowly. Drivers trapped behind slow
vehicles often follow closely.
• In bad weather. Many car drivers follow large vehicles closely
during bad weather, especially when it is hard to see the road
ahead.
If you find yourself being tailgated, here are some things you can
do to reduce the chances of a crash:
• Avoid quick changes. If you have to slow down or turn, signal
early, and reduce speed 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 easier for the tailgater to
get around you.
• Don’t speed up. It’s safer to be tailgated at a low speed than a
high speed.
• Avoid tricks. Don’t turn on your taillights or flash your brake
lights. Follow the suggestions above.
Space to the Sides
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.
Find an open spot where you aren’t near other traffic. When
traffic is heavy, it may be hard to find an open spot. If you must
travel near other vehicles, try to keep as much space as possible
between you and them. Also, drop back or pull forward so that you
are sure the other driver can see you.
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Strong winds. Strong winds make it difficult to stay in your lane.
The problem is usually worse for lighter vehicles. This problem
can be especially bad coming out of tunnels. Don’t drive alongside
others if you can avoid it.
Space Overhead
Hitting overhead objects is a danger. Make sure you always have
overhead clearance.
Don’t assume that the heights posted at bridges and overpasses
are correct. Repaving or packed snow may have reduced the
clearances since the heights were posted.
The weight of a cargo van changes its height. An empty van is
higher than a loaded one. That you got under a bridge when you
were loaded does not mean that you can do it when you are empty.
If you doubt you have safe space to pass under an object,
go slowly. If you aren’t sure you can make it, take another route.
Warnings are often posted on low bridges or underpasses, but
sometimes they are not.
Some roads can cause a vehicle to tilt. There can be a problem
clearing objects along the edge of the road, such as signs, trees, or
bridge supports. Where this is a problem, drive a little closer to the
center of the road.
Before you back into an area, get out and check for overhanging
objects such as trees, branches, or electric wires. It’s easy to miss
seeing them while you are backing. (Also check for other hazards at
the same time.)
Space Below
Many drivers forget about the space under their vehicles. That
space can be very small when a vehicle is heavily loaded. This is
often a problem on dirt roads and in unpaved yards. Don’t take a
chance on getting hung up. Drainage channels across roads can
cause the ends of some vehicles to drag. Cross such depressions
carefully.
Railroad tracks can also cause problems, particularly when
pulling trailers with a low underneath clearance. Don’t take a
chance on getting hung up halfway across.
Space for Turns
The space around a truck or bus is important in turns. Because
of wide turning and offtracking, large vehicles can hit other vehicles
or objects during turns.
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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.
• Don’t turn wide to the left as you start the turn. A following
driver may think you are turning left and try to pass you on the
right. You may crash into the other vehicle as you complete
your turn.
• If you must cross into the oncoming lane to make a turn,
watch out for vehicles coming toward you. Give them room to
go by or to stop. However, don’t back up for them, because
you might hit someone behind you. See Figure 2.13.
Jug handle INCORRECT
Button hook CORRECT
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 offtracking.
If there are two turning lanes, always take the right turn lane.
Don’t start in the inside lane because you may have to swing right
to make the turn. Drivers on your left can be more readily seen. See
Figure 2.14.
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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 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
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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 that 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 near the edge can tilt your vehicle
toward the side of the road. This can cause the top of your vehicle
to hit roadside objects (signs, tree limbs). Also, it can be hard to
steer as you cross the drop off, going off the road, or coming back
on.
Foreign objects. Things that have fallen on the road can be
hazards. They can be a danger to your tires and wheel rims. They
can damage electrical and brake lines. They can be caught between
dual tires and cause severe damage. Some obstacles 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 exits can be particularly
dangerous for commercial vehicles. Off ramps and on ramps often
have speed limit signs posted. Remember, these speeds may be
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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 slowly enough before
you get on the curved part of an off ramp or on ramp.
Drivers Who Are Hazards
In order to protect yourself and others, you must know when
other drivers may do something hazardous. Some clues to this type
of hazard are discussed below.
Blocked vision. People who can’t see others are a very
dangerous hazard. Be alert for drivers whose vision is blocked.
Vans, loaded station wagons, and cars with the rear window
blocked are examples. Rental trucks should be watched carefully.
Their drivers are often not used to the limited vision they have to
the sides and rear of the truck. In winter, vehicles with frosted, icecovered, or snow-covered windows are hazards.
Vehicles may be partly hidden by blind intersections or alleys. If
you only can see the rear or front end of a vehicle but not the driver,
then he or she can’t see you. Be alert because he/she may back
out or enter into your lane. Always be prepared to stop.
Delivery trucks can present a hazard. 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.
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 can’t see you.
Pedestrians and bicyclists can also be hazards. Walkers,
joggers, and bicyclists may be on the road with their back to the
traffic, so they can’t see you. Sometimes they wear portable stereos
with headsets, so they can’t hear you either. This can be dangerous.
On rainy days, pedestrians may not see you because of hats or
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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 can’t
see you. But be alert even when they are looking at you. They may
believe that they have the right of way.
Children. Children tend to act quickly without checking traffic.
Children playing with one another may not look for traffic and are a
serious hazard.
Talkers. Drivers or pedestrians talking to one another may not be
paying close attention to the traffic.
Workers. People working on or near the roadway are a hazard
clue. The work creates a distraction for other drivers and the
workers themselves may not see you.
Ice cream 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.
Accidents. Accidents are particularly hazardous. People
involved in the accident may not look for traffic. Passing drivers tend
to look at the accident. People often run across the road without
looking. Vehicles may slow or stop suddenly.
Shoppers. People in and around shopping areas are often not
watching traffic because they are looking for stores or looking into
store windows.
Confused drivers. Confused drivers often change direction
suddenly or stop without warning. Confusion is common near
freeway interchanges and major intersections. Tourists unfamiliar
with the area can be very hazardous. Clues to tourists include cartop luggage and out-of-state license plates. Unexpected actions
(stopping in the middle of a block, changing lanes for no apparent
reason, backup lights suddenly going on) are clues to confusion.
Hesitation is another clue, including driving very slowly, using
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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 slowly. 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 to 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.
Be alert for drunk drivers and sleepy drivers late at night.
Driver body movement as a clue. Drivers look in the direction
they are going to turn. You may sometimes get a clue from a driver’s
head and body movements that a driver may be going to make
a turn, even though the turn signals aren’t on. Drivers making
over-the-shoulder checks may be going to change lanes. These
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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 freeway onramps) 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
You should always be looking for hazards. Continue to learn to
see hazards on the road. However, don’t forget why you are looking
for the hazards – they may turn into emergencies. You look for the
hazards in order to have time to plan a way out of any emergency.
When you see a hazard, think about the emergencies that could
develop and figure out what you would do. Always be prepared to
take action based on your plans. In this way, you will be a prepared,
defensive driver who will improve your own safety as well as the
safety of all road users.
Test your knowledge
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?
These questions may be on the test. If you can’t answer them all,
reread subsections 2.7 and 2.8.
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2.9 – Distracted Driving
Whenever you are driving a vehicle and your attention is not on
the road, you’re putting yourself, your passengers, other vehicles,
and pedestrians in danger. Distracted driving can result when you
perform any activity that may shift your full attention from the driving
task. Taking your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel
presents obvious driving risks. Mental activities that take your
mind away from driving are just as dangerous. Your eyes can gaze
at objects in the driving scene but fail to see them because your
attention is distracted elsewhere.
Activities that can distract your attention include: talking to
passengers; adjusting the radio, CD player or climate controls;
eating, drinking or smoking; reading maps or other literature;
picking up something that fell; reading billboards and other road
advertisements; watching other people and vehicles including
aggressive drivers; talking on a cell phone or CB radio; using
telematic devices (such as navigation systems, pagers, etc.);
daydreaming or being occupied with other mental distractions.
Don’t Drive Distracted
If drivers react a half-second slower because of distractions,
crashes double. Some tips to follow so you won’t become distracted:
• Review and be totally familiar with all safety and usage
features on any in-vehicle electronics, including your wireless
or cell phone, before you drive.
• Pre-program radio stations.
• Pre-load you favorite CDs or cassette tapes.
• Clear the vehicle of any unnecessary objects.
• Review maps and plan your route before you begin driving.
• Adjust all mirrors for best all-round visibility before you start
your trip.
• Don’t attempt to read or write while you drive.
• Avoid smoking, eating and drinking while you drive.
• Don’t engage in complex or emotionally intense conversations
with other occupants.
Use In-vehicle Communication Equipment Cautiously
• When possible, pull off the road in a safe, legal place when
making/receiving a call on communication equipment.
• 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.
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• If you have to place a call, find a safe place to pull off the road.
Do not place a call while driving.
• Some jurisdictions require that only hands-free devices can
be used while driving. Even these devices are unsafe to use
when you are moving down the road.
• If you must use your cell phone, keep conversations short.
Develop ways to get free of long-winded friends and
associates while on the road. Never use the cell phone for
social visiting.
• Hang up in tricky traffic situations.
• Do not use the equipment when approaching locations with
heavy traffic, road construction, heavy pedestrian traffic, or
severe weather conditions.
• Do not attempt to type or read messages on your satellite
system while driving.
Watch Out for Other Distracted Drivers
You need to be able to recognize other drivers who are engaged
in any form of driving distraction. Not recognizing other distracted
drivers can prevent you from perceiving or reacting correctly in time
to prevent a crash. Watch for:
• Vehicles that may drift over the lane divider lines or within their
own lane.
• Vehicles traveling at inconsistent speeds.
• Drivers who are preoccupied with maps, food, cigarettes, cell
phones, or other objects.
• 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.
2.10 – Aggressive Drivers/Road Rage
What Is It?
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.
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Crowded roads leave little room for error, leading to suspicion
and hostility among drivers and encouraging them to take
personally the mistakes of other drivers.
Aggressive driving is the act of operating a motor vehicle in
a selfish, bold, or pushy manner, without regard for the rights or
safety of others.
Road rage is operating a motor vehicle with the intent of doing
harm to others or physically assaulting a driver or their vehicle.
Don’t Be an Aggressive Driver
How you feel before you even start your vehicle has a lot to do
with how stress will affect you while driving.
• Reduce your stress before and while you drive. Listen to “easy
listening” music.
• Give the drive your full attention. Don’t allow yourself to
become distracted by talking on your cell phone, eating, etc.
• Be realistic about your travel time. Expect delays because of
traffic, construction, or bad weather and make allowances.
• If you’re going to be later than you expected – deal with it.
Take a deep breath and accept the delay.
• Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. Try to imagine why
he or she is driving that way. Whatever their reason, it has
nothing to do with you.
• Slow down and keep your following distance reasonable.
• Don’t drive slowly in the left lane of traffic.
• Avoid gestures. Keep you hands on the wheel. Avoid making
any gestures that might anger another driver, even seemingly
harmless expressions of irritation like shaking your head.
• Be a cautious and courteous driver. If another driver seems
eager to get in front of you, say, “Be my guest.” This response
will soon become a habit and you won’t be as offended by
other drivers’ actions.
What You Should Do When
Confronted by an Aggressive Driver
First and foremost, make every attempt to get out of their way.
• Put your pride in the back seat. Do not challenge them by
speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
• Avoid eye contact.
• Ignore gestures and refuse to react to them.
• Report aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities by
providing a vehicle description, license number, location and,
if possible, direction of travel.
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• 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.
Test your knowledge
1. What are some tips to follow so you won’t become a distracted
driver?
2. How do you use in-vehicle communications equipment
cautiously?
3. How do you recognize a distracted driver?
4. What is the difference between aggressive driving and road
rage?
5. What should you do when confronted with an aggressive
driver?
6. What are some things you can do to reduce your stress before
and while you drive?
These questions may be on the test. If you can’t answer them all,
reread 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 can’t 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 can’t see as sharply at night or in dim light. Also,
their eyes need time to adjust to seeing in dim light. Most people
have noticed this when walking into a dark movie theater.
Glare. Drivers can be blinded for a short time by bright light.
It takes time to recover from this blindness. Older drivers are
especially bothered by glare. Most people have been temporarily
blinded by camera flash units or by the high beams of an oncoming
vehicle. It can take several seconds to recover from glare. Even two
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seconds of glare blindness can be dangerous. A vehicle going 55
mph will travel more than half the distance of a football field during
that time. Don’t look directly at bright lights when driving. Look
at the right side of the road. Watch the 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 don’t, 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 street
lights, 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 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 can’t
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
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your stopping distance within your sight distance. This means going
slowly enough to be able to stop within the range of your headlights.
Otherwise, by the time you see a hazard, you will not have time to
stop.
Night driving can be more dangerous if you have problems with
your headlights. Dirty headlights may give only half the light they
should. This cuts down your ability to see, and makes it harder for
others to see you. Make sure your lights are clean and working.
Headlights can be out of adjustment. If they don’t point in the right
direction, they won’t give you a good view and they can blind other
drivers. Have a qualified person make sure they are adjusted
properly.
Other lights. In order for you to be seen easily, the following
must be clean and working properly:
• Reflectors.
• Marker lights.
• Clearance lights.
• Taillights.
• Identification lights.
Turn signals and brake lights. At night your turn signals and
brake lights are even more important for telling other drivers what
you intend to do. Make sure you have clean, working turn signals
and stop lights.
Windshield and mirrors. It is more important at night than in the
daytime to have a clean windshield and clean mirrors. Bright lights
at night can cause dirt on your windshield or mirrors to create a
glare of its own, blocking your view. Most people have experienced
driving toward the sun just as it has risen or is about to set, and
found that they can barely see through a windshield that seemed
to look OK in the middle of the day. Clean your windshield on the
inside and outside for safe driving at night.
Night Driving Procedures
Pre-trip procedures. Make sure you are rested and alert. If
you are drowsy, sleep before you drive! Even a nap can save your
life or the lives of others. If you wear 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 and reflectors, and cleaning those you can reach.
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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 an oncoming vehicle
and when following another vehicle within 300 feet.
Avoid glare from oncoming vehicles. Do not look directly at
lights of oncoming vehicles. Look slightly to the right at a right lane
or edge marking, if available. If other drivers don’t put their low
beams on, don’t try to “get back at them” by putting your own high
beams on. This increases glare for oncoming drivers and increases
the chance of a crash.
Use high beams when you can. Some drivers make the
mistake of always using low beams. This seriously cuts down on
their ability to see ahead. Use high beams when it is safe and
legal to do so. Use them when you are not within 500 feet of an
approaching vehicle. Also, don’t let the inside of your cab get too
bright. This makes it harder to see outside. Keep the interior light
off, and adjust your instrument lights as low as you can to still be
able to read the gauges.
If you get sleepy, stop at the nearest safe place. People often
don’t realize how close they are to falling asleep even when their
eyelids are falling shut. If you can safely do so, look at yourself in
a mirror. If you look sleepy, or you just feel sleepy, stop driving! You
are in a very dangerous condition. The only safe cure is to sleep.
2.12 – Driving in Fog
Fog can occur at any time. Fog on highways can be extremely
dangerous. Fog is often unexpected, and visibility can deteriorate
rapidly. You should watch for foggy conditions and be ready to
reduce your speed. Do not assume that the fog will thin out after
you enter it.
The best advice for driving in fog is don’t. It is preferable that you
pull off the road into a rest area or truck stop until visibility is better.
If you must drive, be sure to consider the following:
• Obey all fog-related warning signs.
• Slow 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.
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• Turn on your 4-way flashers. This will give vehicles
approaching you from behind a quicker opportunity to notice
your vehicle.
• 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.
• Don’t 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 can’t see well enough while driving (for
example, if your wipers fail), stop safely and fix the problem.
Tires. Make sure you have enough tread on your tires. The drive
tires must provide traction to push the rig over wet pavement and
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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 winterfront. Remove ice from the
radiator shutters. Make sure the winterfront is not closed too tightly.
If the shutters freeze shut or the winterfront is closed too much, the
engine may overheat and stop.
Exhaust system. Exhaust system leaks are especially
dangerous when cab ventilation may be poor (windows rolled up,
etc.). Loose connections could permit poisonous carbon monoxide
to leak into your vehicle. Carbon monoxide gas will cause you to be
sleepy. In large enough amounts it can kill you. Check the exhaust
system for loose parts and for sounds and signs of leaks.
Driving
Slippery surfaces. Drive slowly and smoothly on slippery roads.
If it is very slippery, you shouldn’t drive at all. Stop at the first safe
place.
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Start gently and slowly. When first starting, get the feel of the
road. Don’t hurry.
Check for ice. Check for ice on the road, especially bridges and
overpasses. A lack of spray from other vehicles indicates ice has
formed on the road. Also, check your mirrors and wiper blades for
ice. If they have ice, the road most likely will be icy as well.
Adjust turning and braking to conditions. Make turns as
gently as possible. Don’t brake any harder than necessary, and
don’t use the engine brake or speed retarder. (They can cause the
driving wheels to skid on slippery surfaces.)
Adjust speed to conditions. Don’t pass slower vehicles unless
necessary. Go slowly and watch far enough ahead to keep a steady
speed. Avoid having to slow down and speed up. Take curves at
slower speeds and don’t brake while in curves. Be aware that as
the temperature rises to the point where ice begins to melt, the road
becomes even more slippery. Slow down more.
Adjust space to conditions. Don’t drive alongside other
vehicles. Keep a longer following distance. When you see a
traffic jam ahead, slow down or stop to wait for it to clear. Try
hard to anticipate stops early and slow down gradually. Watch for
snowplows, as well as salt and sand trucks, and give them plenty of
room.
Wet brakes. When driving in heavy rain or deep standing water,
your brakes will get wet. Water in the brakes can cause 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 to make
sure no one is following, then apply the brakes to be sure
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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.)
2.14 – Driving in Very Hot Weather
Vehicle Checks
Do a normal pre-trip inspection, but pay special attention to the
following items.
Tires. Check the tire mounting and air pressure. Inspect the
tires every two hours or every 100 miles when driving in very hot
weather. Air pressure increases with temperature. Do not let air out
or the pressure will be too low when the tires cool off. If a tire is too
hot to touch, remain stopped until the tire cools off. Otherwise the
tire may blow out or catch fire.
Engine oil. The engine oil helps keep the engine cool, as well
as lubricating it. Make sure there is enough engine oil. If you have
an oil temperature gauge, make sure the temperature is within the
proper range while you are driving.
Engine coolant. Before starting out, make sure the engine
cooling system has enough water and antifreeze according to the
engine manufacturer’s directions. (Antifreeze helps the engine
under hot conditions as well as cold conditions.) When driving,
check the water temperature or coolant temperature gauge from
time to time. Make sure that it remains in the normal range. If the
gauge goes above the highest safe temperature, there may be
something wrong that could lead to engine failure and possibly fire.
Stop driving as soon as safely possible and try to find out what is
wrong.
Some vehicles have sight glasses, see-through coolant overflow
containers, or coolant recovery containers. These permit you to
check the coolant level while the engine is hot. If the container is not
part of the pressurized system, the cap can be safely removed and
coolant added even when the engine is at operating temperature.
Never remove the radiator cap or any part of the pressurized
system until the system has cooled. Steam and boiling water can
spray under pressure and cause severe burns. If you can touch the
radiator cap with your bare hand, it is probably cool enough to open.
If coolant has to be added to a system without a recovery tank or
overflow tank, follow these steps:
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•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
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 releases the
pressure seal.
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.
Replace cap and 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.
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.
Test your klowledge
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
isn’t overheated. True or False?
These questions may be on the test. If you can’t answer all of
them, reread subsections 2.11, 2.12, 2.13, and 2.14.
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2.15 – Railroad-highway Crossings
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 advance warning signs, pavement markings
and crossbucks 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
bells and flashing red lights with bells and gates.
Warning Signs and Devices
Advance warning signs. The round, black-on-yellow warning
sign is placed ahead of a public railroad-highway crossing. The
advance warning sign tells you to slow down, 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.
Figure 2.15
Round yellow warning sign
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Figure 2.16
Pavement markings
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 vehicle must remain behind this line
while stopped at the crossing.
Crossbuck signs. This sign marks the grade crossing. It
requires you to yield the right-of-way to the train. If there is no white
line painted on the pavement, you must stop the vehicle before the
crossbuck sign. When the road crosses over more than one set of
tracks, a sign below the crossbuck indicates the number of tracks.
See Figure 2.17.
IL
A
R
O
S
G
D
A
RO
C
R
N
SI
3
TRACKS
Figure 2.17
Multiple tracks
Flashing red light signals. At many highway-rail grade
crossings, the crossbuck sign has flashing red lights and bells.
When the lights begin to flash, stop! A train is approaching. You
are required to yield the right-of-way to the train. If there is more
than one track, make sure all tracks are clear before crossing. See
Figure 2.18.
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.
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R
S
S
IN
G
AD
RO
IL
RA
C
O
3
TRACKS
Figure 2.18
Gates/Lights
Driving Procedures
Never race a train to a crossing. Never attempt to race a
train to a crossing. It is extremely difficult to judge the speed of an
approaching train.
Reduce speed. Speed must be reduced in accordance with your
ability to see approaching trains in any direction, and speed must
be held to a point which will permit you to stop short of the tracks in
case a stop is necessary.
Don’t expect to hear a train. Because of noise inside your
vehicle, you cannot expect to hear the train horn until the train is
dangerously close to the crossing.
Don’t rely on signals. You should not rely solely upon the
presence of warning signals, gates, or flagmen to warn of the
approach of trains. Be especially alert at crossings that do not have
gates or flashing red light signals.
Double tracks require a double check. Remember that a train
on one track may hide a train on the other track. Look both ways
before crossing. After one train has cleared a crossing, be sure no
other trains are near before starting across the tracks.
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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 as much
caution.
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.
• Turn on your four-way emergency flashers.
Crossing the Tracks
Railroad crossings with steep approaches can cause your unit to
hang up on the tracks.
Never permit traffic conditions to trap you in a position where you
have to stop on the tracks. Be sure you can get all the way across
the tracks before you start across. It takes a typical tractor-trailer
unit at least 14 seconds to clear a single track and more than 15
seconds to clear a double track.
Do not shift gears while crossing railroad tracks.
Special Situations
Be Aware! These trailers can get stuck on raised crossings:
• Low slung units (lowboy, car carrier, moving van, possum-belly
livestock trailer).
• Single-axle tractor pulling a long trailer with its landing gear
set to accommodate a tandem-axle tractor.
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.
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2.16 – Mountain Driving
In mountain driving, gravity plays a major role. On any upgrade,
gravity slows you down. The steeper the grade, the longer the
grade, and/or the heavier the load – the more you will 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, 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, talk to other drivers who are familiar with the
grades to find out what speeds are safe.
You must go slowly enough so your brakes can hold you back
without getting too hot. If the brakes become too hot, they may start
to “fade.” This means you have to apply them harder and harder
to get the same stopping power. If you continue to use the brakes
hard, they can keep fading until you cannot slow down or stop at all.
Select a “Safe” Speed
Your most important consideration is to select 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 a speed limit is posted, or there is a sign indicating “Maximum
Safe Speed,” never exceed the speed shown. Also, look for and
heed warning signs indicating the length and steepness of the
grade.
You must use the braking effect of the engine as the principal
way of controlling your speed. The braking effect of the engine is
greatest when it is near the governed rpms and the transmission is
in the lower gears. Save your brakes so you will be able to slow or
stop as required by road and traffic conditions.
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 engine braking effect will be
lost. Forcing an automatic transmission into a lower gear at high
speed could damage the transmission and also lead to loss of all
engine braking effect.
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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.
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 are the proper
braking techniques:
Apply the brakes just hard enough to feel a definite slowdown.
When your speed has been reduced to approximately five mph
below your “safe” speed, release the brakes. (This brake application
should last for about three seconds.)
When your speed has increased to your “safe” speed, repeat
steps 1 and 2.
For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not apply
the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now apply the
brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 mph and
then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as necessary until you
have reached the end of the downgrade.
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
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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.
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 tractor-trailer unit to clear a
double track?
These questions may be on the test. If you can’t answer them all,
reread subsections 2.15 and 2.16.
2.17 – Driving Emergencies
Traffic emergencies occur when two vehicles are about to collide.
Vehicle emergencies occur when tires, brakes, or other critical parts
fail. Following the safety practices in this manual can help prevent
emergencies. But if an emergency does happen, your chances of
avoiding a crash depend upon how well you take action. Actions
you can take are discussed below.
Steering to Avoid a Crash
Stopping is not always the safest thing to do in an emergency.
When you don’t have enough room to stop, you may have to steer
away from what’s ahead. Remember, you can almost always turn to
miss an obstacle more quickly than you can stop. (However, topheavy 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 to have both hands on the wheel, if there is an
emergency, is to keep them there all the time.
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How to turn quickly and safely. A quick turn can be made
safely, if it’s done the right way. Here are some points that safe
drivers use:
• Do not apply the brake while you are turning. It’s 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 more sharply you turn, the greater the chances of a
skid or rollover.
• Be prepared to “countersteer,” that is, to turn the wheel back in
the other direction, once you’ve passed whatever was in your
path. Unless you are prepared to countersteer, you won’t be
able to do it quickly enough. You should think of emergency
steering and countersteering as two parts of one driving
action.
Where to steer. If an oncoming driver has drifted into your
lane, a move to your right is best. If that driver realizes what has
happened, the natural response will be to return to his or her own
lane.
If something is blocking your path, the best direction to steer will
depend on the situation.
If you have been using your mirrors, you’ll know which lane is
empty and can be safely used.
If the shoulder is clear, going right may be best. No one is likely
to be driving on the shoulder but someone may be passing you on
the left. You will know if you have been using your mirrors.
If you are blocked on both sides, a move to the right may be best.
At least you won’t force anyone into an opposing traffic lane 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.
Keep one set of wheels on the pavement, if possible. This
helps to maintain control.
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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. Don’t try to edge gradually back on
the road. If you do, your tires might grab unexpectedly and you
could lose control.
• When both front tires are on the paved surface, countersteer
immediately. The two turns should be made as a single “steercountersteer” 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.
Reapply 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 reapply the brakes
before the wheels start rolling, the vehicle won’t straighten
out.)
Don’t jam on the brakes. Emergency braking does not mean
pushing down on the brake pedal as hard as you can. That will
only keep the wheels locked up and cause a skid. If the wheels are
skidding, you cannot control the vehicle.
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Brake Failure
Brakes kept in good condition rarely fail. Most hydraulic brake
failures occur for one of two reasons: (Air brakes are discussed in
Section 5.)
• Loss of hydraulic pressure.
• Brake fade on long hills.
Loss of hydraulic pressure. When the system won’t build up
pressure, the brake pedal will feel spongy or go to the floor. 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’ll 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.
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Any driver who loses brakes going downhill should use an
escape ramp if it’s available. If you don’t use it, your chances of
having a serious crash may be much greater.
If no escape ramp is available, take the least hazardous escape
route you can – such as an open field or a side road that flattens out
or turns uphill. Make the move as soon as you know your brakes
don’t 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’re supposed to do can help you. The
major signs of tire failure are:
• Sound. The loud “bang” of a blowout is an easily recognized
sign. Because it can take a few seconds for your vehicle to
react, you might think it was some other vehicle. But any time
you hear a tire blow, you’d be safest to assume it 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’s natural to want to brake in an
emergency. However, braking when a tire has failed could
cause loss of control. Unless you’re about to run into
something, stay off the brake until the vehicle has slowed
down. Then brake very gently, pull off the road, and stop.
• Check the Tires. After you’ve come to a stop, get out and
check all the tires. Do this even if the vehicle seems to be
handling all right. If one of your dual tires goes, the only way
you may know it is by getting out and looking at it.
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2.18 – Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
ABS is a computerized system that keeps your wheels from
locking up during hard brake applications.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease
or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when
wheels are about to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but it
does help you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.
How Antilock Braking Systems Work
Sensors detect potential wheel lock up. An electronic control unit
(ECU) will then decrease brake pressure to avoid wheel lockup.
Brake pressure is adjusted to provide the maximum braking
without danger of lockup.
ABS works far faster than the driver can respond to potential
wheel lockup. At all other times the brake system will operate
normally.
Vehicles Required to Have Antilock Braking Systems
The Department of Transportation requires that ABS be on:
• Truck tractors with air brakes built on or after March 1, 1997.
• Other air brake vehicles, (trucks, buses, trailers, and converter
dollies) built on or after March 1, 1998.
• Hydraulically braked trucks and buses with a gross vehicle
weight rating of 10,000 lbs or more built on or after March 1,
1999.
Many commercial vehicles built before these dates have been
voluntarily equipped with ABS.
How to Know If Your Vehicle Is Equipped with ABS
Tractors, trucks, and buses will have yellow ABS malfunction
lamps on the instrument panel.
Trailers will have yellow ABS malfunction lamps on the left side,
either on the front or rear corner.
Dollies manufactured on or after March 1, 1998, are required to
have a lamp on the left side.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp
comes on at start-up for a bulb check, and then goes out quickly.
On older systems, the lamp could stay on until you are driving over
five mph.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check, or goes on once you
are under way, you may have lost ABS control.
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In the case of towed units manufactured before it was required
by the Department of Transportation, it may be difficult to tell if the
unit is equipped with ABS. Look under the vehicle for the ECU and
wheel speed sensor wires coming from the back of the brakes.
How ABS Helps You
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a vehicle without
ABS, your wheels may lock up. When your steering wheels lock up,
you lose steering control. When your other wheels lock up, you may
skid, jackknife, or even spin the vehicle.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up and maintain control. You
may or may not be able to stop faster with ABS, but you should be
able to steer around an obstacle while braking, and avoid skids
caused by over braking.
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.
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.
Braking with ABS
When you drive a vehicle with ABS, you should brake as you
always have. In other words:
• Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely and stay
in control.
• Brake the same way, regardless of whether you have ABS on
the bus, tractor, the trailer, or both.
• As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer and back off
the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay in control.
There is only one exception to this procedure. If you drive a
straight truck or combination with working ABS on all axles, in an
emergency stop, you can fully apply the brakes.
Braking If ABS Is Not Working
Without ABS you still have normal brake functions. Drive and
brake as you always have.
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Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you if
something isn’t working.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp
comes on at start-up for a bulb check and then goes out quickly. On
older systems, the lamp could stay on until you are driving over five
mph.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check, or goes on once you
are under way, you may have lost ABS control on one or more
wheels.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still have regular
brakes. Drive normally, but get the system serviced soon.
Safety Reminders
• ABS won’t allow you to drive faster, follow more closely, or
drive less carefully.
• ABS won’t prevent power or turning skids–ABS should prevent
brake-induced skids or jackknifes, but not those caused by
spinning the drive wheels or going too fast in a turn.
• ABS won’t necessarily shorten stopping distance. ABS will
help maintain vehicle control, but not always shorten stopping
distance.
• ABS won’t increase or decrease ultimate stopping power–ABS
is an “add-on” to your normal brakes, not a replacement for
them.
• ABS won’t change the way you normally brake. Under normal
brake conditions, your vehicle will stop as it always stopped.
ABS only comes into play when a wheel would normally have
locked up because of over braking.
• ABS won’t compensate for bad brakes or poor brake
maintenance.
• Remember: The best vehicle safety feature is still a safe driver.
• Remember: Drive so you never need to use your ABS.
• Remember: If you need it, ABS could help to prevent a serious
crash.
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:
• Over-braking. Braking too hard and locking up the wheels.
Skids also can occur when using the speed retarder when the
road is slippery.
• Over-steering. Turning the wheels more sharply than the
vehicle can turn.
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• Over-acceleration. Supplying too much power to the drive
wheels, causing them to spin.
• Driving too fast. Most serious skids result from driving too
fast for road conditions. Drivers who adjust their driving to
conditions don’t over-accelerate and don’t have to over-brake
or over-steer from too much speed.
Drive-wheel Skids
By far the most common skid is one in which the rear wheels
lose traction through excessive braking or acceleration. Skids
caused by acceleration usually happen on ice or snow. 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.
Line of travel
Direction
of slide
Rear tractor
wheels
locked-up
or spinning
Figure 2.19, Tractor jacknife
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Correcting a Drive-wheel Braking Skid
Do the following to correct a drive-wheel braking skid.
• Stop braking. This will let the rear wheels roll again, and keep
the rear wheels from sliding.
• Countersteer. 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.
Learning to stay off the brake, turn the steering wheel quickly,
push in the clutch, and countersteer in a skid takes a lot
of practice. The best place to get this practice is on a large
driving range or “skid pad.”
Front-wheel Skids
Driving too fast for conditions causes most front-wheel 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.
Test your knowledge
1. Stopping is not always the safest thing to do in an emergency.
True or False?
2. What are some advantages of going right instead of left around
an obstacle?
3. What is an “escape ramp?”
4. If a tire blows out, you should put the brakes on hard to stop
quickly. True or False?
5. How do you know if your vehicle has antilock brakes?
6. What is the proper braking technique when driving a vehicle
with antilock brakes?
7. How do antilock brakes help you?
These questions may be on the test. If you can’t answer them all,
reread subsections 2.17, 2.18, and 2.19.
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2.20 – Accident Procedures
When you’re in an accident and not seriously hurt, you need to
act to prevent further damage or injury. The basic steps to be taken
at any accident are to:
• Protect the area.
• Notify authorities.
• Care for the injured.
Protect the Area
The first thing to do at an accident scene is to keep another
accident from happening 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’re stopping to help, park away from the accident. The
area immediately around the accident will be needed for
emergency vehicles.
• Put on your flashers.
• Set out reflective triangles to warn other traffic. Make sure
other drivers can see them in time to avoid the accident.
Notify Authorities
If you have a cell phone or CB, call for assistance before you get
out of your vehicle. If not, wait until after the accident scene has
been properly protected, then phone or send someone to phone the
police. Try to determine where you are so you can give the exact
location.
Care for the Injured
If a qualified person is at the accident and helping the injured,
stay out of the way unless asked to assist. Otherwise, do the best
you can to help any injured parties. Here are some simple steps to
follow in giving assistance:
• Don’t move a severely injured person unless the danger of fire
or passing traffic makes it necessary.
• Stop heavy bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound.
• Keep the injured person warm.
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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.
Causes of Fire
The following are some causes of vehicle fires:
• After accidents. Spilled fuel, improper use of flares.
• Tires. Under-inflated tires and duals that touch.
• Electrical system. Short circuits due to damaged insulation,
loose connections.
• Fuel. Driver smoking, improper fueling, loose fuel connections.
• Cargo. Flammable cargo, improperly sealed or loaded cargo,
poor ventilation.
Fire Prevention
Pay attention to the following:
• Pre-trip inspection. Make a complete inspection of the
electrical, fuel, and exhaust systems, tires, and cargo. Be sure
to check that the fire extinguisher is charged.
• En route inspection. Check the tires, wheels, and truck body
for signs of heat whenever you stop during a trip.
• Follow safe procedures. Follow correct safety procedures
for fueling the vehicle, using brakes, handling flares, and other
activities that can cause a fire.
• Monitoring. Check the instruments and gauges often for
signs of overheating and use the mirrors to look for signs of
smoke from tires or the vehicle.
• Caution. Use normal caution in handling anything flammable.
Fire Fighting
Knowing how to fight fires is important. Drivers who didn’t 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.
• Don’t pull into a service station!
• Notify emergency services of your problem and your location.
Keep the fire from spreading. Before trying to put out the fire,
make sure that it doesn’t spread any further.
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With an engine fire, turn off the engine as soon as you can. Don’t
open the hood if you can avoid it. Shoot foam through louvers,
radiator, or from the vehicle’s underside.
For a cargo fire in a van or box trailer, keep the doors shut,
especially if your cargo contains hazardous materials. Opening the
van doors will supply the fire with oxygen and can cause it to burn
very fast.
Extinguish the fire. Here are some rules to follow in putting out
a fire:
• When using the extinguisher, stay as far away from the fire as
possible.
• Aim at the source or base of the fire, not up in the flames.
Use the right fire extinguisher. Figures 2.20 and 2.21 detail the
type of fire extinguisher 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 don’t 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.
• If you’re 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.
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Class/Type of fires
Class
Type
A
Wood, paper, ordinary combustibles
Extinguish by cooling and quenching using water or
dry chemicals.
B
Gasoline, oil, grease, other greasy liquids
Extinguish by smothering, cooling or heat shielding
using carbon dioxide or dry chemicals.
C
Electrical equipment fires
Extinguish with nonconducting agents such as carbon
dioxide or dry chemicals. Do not use water.
D
Fires in combustible metals
Extinguish by using specialized extinguishing powders.
Figure 2.20
Class of fire/Type of extinguisher
Class of fire
Fire extinguisher type
B or C
Regular dry chemical
A, B, C, or D
Multi-purpose dry chemical
D
Purple K dry chemical
B or C
KCL dry chemical
D
Dry powder special compound
B or C
Carbon dioxide (Dry)
B or C
Halogenated agent (Gas)
A
Water
A
Water with anti-freeze
A or B
Water, loaded steam style
B, on some A
Foam
Figure 2.21
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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 can’t answer them all,
reread 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.
All of the following drinks contain the same amount of alcohol:
• A 12-ounce glass of 5% beer.
• A 5-ounce glass of 12% wine.
• A 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80 proof liquor.
2-76
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).
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 self-control. One of the bad things about this is it
can keep drinkers from knowing they are getting drunk. And, good
judgment and self-control are absolutely necessary for safe driving.
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
Drinks
per
hour
100
0
Only safe driving limit
1
.04
.03
.03
2
.08
.06
3
.11
4
Body weight in pounds
120
140
160
180
200
220
240
.02
.02
.02
.02
.02
.05
.05
.04
.04
.03
.03
.09
.08
.07
.06
.06
.05
.05
.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
Subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking.
One drink =1.50 oz. of 80 proof liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine.
Figure 2.22
2-77
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.
Effects of Increasing Blood Alcohol Content
Blood Alcohol Content is the amount of alcohol in your blood
recorded in milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. 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
What happens
.02
Ability to track moving objects and do tasks requiring
divided attention may suffer.
.05
Thought, judgment, and restraint are more lax. Steering
errors increase. Vision impaired.
.08
Legal limit. You’re 3-4 times more likely than a sober
driver to crash. Movements are clumsy. Reaction time
slows.
.10*
You are 6 times more likely to crash. Movements are
clumsy. Reaction time slows even more.
.15
Crashing is 25 times more likely. Reaction time is
increasingly affected, especially in divided tasks. Field of
vision narrows.
* BAC of .10 means that 1/10 of 1 % (or 1/1000)
of your total blood content is alcohol.
Figure 2.23
2-78
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
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 overthe-counter drugs (cold medicines), which may make the driver
drowsy or otherwise affect safe driving ability. However, possession
and use of a drug given to a driver by a doctor is permitted if the
doctor informs the driver that it will not affect safe driving ability.
Pay attention to warning labels for legitimate drugs and
medicines, and to doctor’s orders regarding possible effects. Stay
away from illegal drugs.
Don’t use any drug that hides fatigue – the only cure for fatigue is
rest. Alcohol can make the effects of other drugs much worse. The
safest rule is don’t mix drugs with driving at all.
Use of drugs can lead to traffic accidents resulting in death,
injury, and property damage. Furthermore, it can lead to arrest,
fines, and jail sentences. It can also mean the end of a person’s
driving career.
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 can’t save it up
ahead of time and you can’t borrow it. But, just as with money, you
can go into debt with it. If you don’t sleep enough, you “owe” more
sleep to yourself. This debt can only be paid off by sleeping. You
can’t overcome it with willpower, and it won’t go away by itself. The
average person needs seven or eight hours of sleep every 24 hours.
2-79
Leaving on a long trip when you’re 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 don’t regularly drive at those hours.
Trying to push on and finish a long trip at these times can be very
dangerous.
Exercise regularly. Resistance to fatigue and improved sleep
are among the benefits of regular exercise. Try to incorporate
exercise into your daily life. Instead of sitting and watching TV in
your sleeper, walk or jog a few laps around the parking lot. A little bit
of daily exercise will give you energy throughout the day.
Eat healthy. It is often hard for drivers to find healthy food. But
with a little extra effort, you can eat healthy, even on the road. Try
to find restaurants with healthy, balanced meals. If you must eat
at fast-food restaurants, pick low-fat items. Another simple way to
reduce your caloric intake is to eliminate fattening snacks. Instead,
try fruit or vegetables.
Avoid medication. Many medicines can make you sleepy.
Those that do have a label warning against operating vehicles or
machinery. The most common medicine of this type is an ordinary
cold pill. If you have to drive with a cold, you are better off suffering
from the cold than from the effects of the medicine.
Visit your doctor. Regular checkups literally can be lifesavers.
Illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and skin and colon
cancer can be detected easily and treated if found in time.
You should consult your physician or a local sleep disorder
center if you suffer from frequent daytime sleepiness, have difficulty
sleeping at night, take frequent naps, fall asleep at strange times,
snore loudly, gasp and choke in your sleep, and/or wake up feeling
as though you have not had enough sleep.
2-80
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’re drowsy, you can fall asleep and never even know
it. If you are drowsy, you are likely to have “micro sleeps”–brief naps
that last around four or five seconds. At 55 miles an hour, that’s
more than 100 yards, and plenty of time for a crash. Even if you are
not aware of being drowsy, if you have a sleep debt you are still at
risk. Here are a few ways to tell if you’re about to fall asleep. If you
experience any of these danger signs, take them as a warning that
you could fall asleep without meaning to.
• Your eyes close or go out of focus by themselves.
• You have trouble keeping your head up.
• You can’t stop yawning.
• You have wandering, disconnected thoughts.
• You don’t remember driving the last few miles.
• You drift between lanes, tailgate, or miss traffic signs.
• You keep jerking the truck back into the lane.
• You have drifted off the road and narrowly missed crashing.
If you have even one of these symptoms, you may be in danger
of falling asleep. Pull off the road in a safe place and take a nap.
When You Do Become Sleepy
When you are sleepy, trying to “push on” is far more dangerous
than most drivers think. It is a major cause of fatal accidents. Here
are some important rules to follow.
Stop to sleep. When your body needs sleep, sleep is the only
thing that will work. If you 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.
2-81
Take a nap. If you can’t stop for the night, at least pull off at a
safe place, such as a rest area or truck stop, and take a nap. A nap
as short as a half-hour will do more to overcome fatigue than a halfhour coffee stop.
Avoid drugs. There are no drugs that can overcome being tired.
While they may keep you awake for a while, they won’t make you
alert. And eventually, you’ll be even more tired than if you hadn’t
taken them at all. Sleep is the only thing that can overcome fatigue.
Do not. Do not rely on coffee or another source of caffeine to
keep you awake. Do not count on the radio, an open window, or
other tricks to keep you awake.
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
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.
What Are Hazardous Materials?
Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk to health,
safety, and property during transportation. See 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.
2-82
Hazard Class Definitions
Class
Class Name
Example
1
Explosives
Ammunition, Dynamite, Fireworks
2
Gases
Propane, Oxygen, Helium
3
Flammable
Gasoline Fuel, Acetone
4
Flammable Solids
Matches, Fuses
5
Oxidizers
Ammonium Nitrate, Hydrogen
Peroxide
6
Poisons
Pesticides, Arsenic
7
Radioactive
Uranium, Plutonium
8
Corrosives
Hydrochloric Acid, Battery Acid
9
Miscellaneous
Formaldehyde, Asbestos
Hazardous Materials
None
ORM-D (Other
Regulated MaterialDomestic)
Hair Spray or Charcoal
None
Combustible Liquids
Fuel Oils, Lighter Fluid
Figure 2.24
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 transported. Your life, and the lives
of others, may depend on quickly locating the hazardous materials
shipping papers. For that reason, you must identify shipping
papers related to hazardous materials or keep them on top of other
shipping papers. You must also keep shipping papers:
• In a pouch on the driver’s door, or
• In clear view within reach while driving, or
• On the driver’s seat when out of the vehicle.
2-83
Lists of Regulated Products
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 must
be at least 10 3/4 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) lists the
chemicals and the identification numbers assigned to them.
Not all vehicles carrying hazardous materials need to have
placards. The rules about placards are given in Section 9 of this
manual. 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 driver license 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 9 of this manual. A tank
endorsement is required for certain vehicles that transport liquids or
gases. The liquid or gas does not have to be a hazardous material.
A tank endorsement is required if your vehicle needs a Class A or
B CDL and your vehicle has a permanently mounted cargo tank
rated at 119 gallons or more; or your vehicle is carrying a portable
tank with a capacity of 1,000 gallons or more. A tank endorsement
is also required for Class C vehicles when the vehicle is used to
transport hazardous material in a liquid or gas form in the above
described rated tanks.
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.
2-84
Figure 2.25
Placards
Hazardous materials drivers must also know which products
they can load together, and which they cannot. These rules are
also in Section 9. Before loading a truck with more than one type of
product, you must know if it is safe to load them together. If you do
not know, ask your employer and consult regulations.
2-85
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 can’t answer them all,
reread subsections 2.22, 2.23, and 2.24.
2-86
Transporting
Cargo Safely
This section covers:
• Inspecting cargo
• Cargo weight and balance
• Securing cargo
• Cargo needing special attention
This section tells you about hauling cargo safely. You must
understand basic cargo safety rules to get a CDL.
If you load cargo wrong or do not secure it, it can be a danger to
others and yourself. Loose cargo that falls off a vehicle can cause
traffic problems and others could be hurt or killed. Loose cargo
could hurt or kill you during a quick stop or crash. Your vehicle could
be damaged by an overload. Steering could be affected by how a
vehicle is loaded, making it more difficult to control the vehicle.
Whether or not you load and secure the cargo yourself, you are
responsible for:
• Inspecting your cargo.
• Recognizing overloads and poorly balanced weight.
• 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 9 of this manual has the information you
need to pass the hazardous materials test.
3-1
3.1 – Inspecting Cargo
As part of your pre-trip inspection, make sure the truck is not
overloaded and the cargo is balanced and secured properly.
After starting. Inspect the cargo and its securing devices again
within the first 50 miles after beginning a trip. Make any adjustments
needed.
Recheck. Recheck the cargo and securing devices as often as
necessary during a trip to keep the load secure. You need to inspect
again:
• After you have driven for 3 hours or 150 miles.
• After every break you take during driving.
Federal, state, and local regulations for commercial vehicle
weight, securing cargo, covering loads, and where you can drive
large vehicles vary from place to place. Know the rules where you
will be driving.
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.
3-2
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.
Legal Weight Limits
You must keep weights within legal limits. States have maximums
for GVWs, GCWs, and axle weights. Often, maximum axle weights
are set by a bridge formula. A bridge formula permits less maximum
axle weight for axles that are closer together. This is to prevent
overloading bridges and roadways.
Overloading can have bad effects on steering, braking, and
speed control. Overloaded trucks have to go very slowly on
upgrades. Worse, they 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
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.
Balance the Weight
Poor weight balance can make vehicle handling unsafe. Too
much weight on the steering axle can cause hard steering. It can
damage the steering axle and tires. 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 bad weather, the truck may not be able to keep going.
Weight that is loaded so there is a high center of gravity causes
greater chance of rollover. On flat bed vehicles, there is also a
greater chance that the load will shift to the side or fall off. See
Figure 3.1.
3-3
3.3 – Securing Cargo
Blocking and Bracing
Blocking is used in the front, back, and/or sides of a piece of
cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is shaped to fit snugly against
cargo. It is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement.
Bracing is also used to prevent movement of cargo. Bracing goes
from the upper part of the cargo to the floor and/or walls of the
cargo compartment.
Wrong
Wrong
Wrong
Wrong
Right
Right
Right
Figure 3.1
Loading cargo
Cargo Tiedown
On flatbed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be
secured to keep it from shifting or falling off. In closed vans,
tiedowns can also be important to prevent cargo shifting that
may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tiedowns must be of the
proper type and proper strength. Federal regulations require the
total working load limit of any securement system used to secure
an article or group of articles against movement must be at least
one-half times the weight of the article or group of articles. Proper
3-4
tiedown equipment must be used, including ropes, straps, chains,
and tensioning devices (winches, ratchets, clinching components).
Tiedowns must be attached to the vehicle correctly (hooks, bolts,
rails, rings). See figure 3.2.
Tie down devices. Cargo should have at least one tie-down
for each 10 feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedown to meet this need. No matter how small the cargo is,
there should be at least two tie-downs holding it.
Figure 3.2
Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each ten feet of
cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet this need. No
matter how small the cargo, it should have at least two tiedowns.
There are special requirements for securing various heavy
pieces of metal. Find out what they are if you are to carry such
loads.
Header Boards
Front-end header boards (“headache racks”) protect you from
your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure the
front-end structure is in good condition. The front-end structure
should block the forward movement of any cargo you carry.
Covering Cargo
There are two basic reasons for covering cargo:
• To protect people from spilled cargo.
• To protect the cargo from weather.
Spill protection is a safety requirement in many states. Be familiar
with the laws 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.
3-5
Sealed and Containerized Loads
Containerized loads generally are used when freight is carried
part way by rail or ship. Delivery by truck occurs at the beginning
and/or end of the journey. Some containers have their own tiedown
devices or locks that attach directly to a special frame. Others 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
don’t exceed gross weight and axle weight limits.
3.4 – Cargo Needing Special Attention
Dry Bulk
Dry bulk tanks require special care because they have a high
center of gravity, and the load can shift. Be extremely cautious (slow
and careful) going around curves and making sharp turns.
Hanging Meat
Hanging meat (suspended beef, pork, lamb) in a refrigerated
truck can be a very unstable load with a high center of gravity.
Particular caution is needed on sharp curves such as off ramps and
on ramps. Go slowly.
Livestock
Livestock can move around in a trailer, causing unsafe handling.
With less than a full load, use false bulkheads to keep livestock
bunched together. Even when bunched, special care is necessary
because livestock can lean on curves. This shifts the center of
gravity and makes rollover more likely.
Oversized Loads
Over-length, over-width, and/or 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.
3-6
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 don’t have enough weight on the front
axle?
6. What is the minimum number of tiedowns for any flat bed load?
7. What is the minimum number of tiedowns 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 can’t answer them
all, reread Section 3.
3-7
3-8
Transporting
Passengers Safely
This section covers:
• Vehicle inspection
• Loading
• On the road
• After-trip vehicle inspection
• Prohibited practices
• Use of brake-door interlocks
If you need a passenger or school bus endorsement, study
this section.
You also need to study:
• Section 1, Introduction and State Laws
• Section 2, Driving Safely
• Section 3, Transporting Cargo Safely
• Section 5, Air Brakes, if your bus has air brakes
• Section 10, School Bus, if you want to drive a school bus.
Bus drivers must have a commercial driver license if they drive a
vehicle designed to seat more than 16 or more persons, including
the driver.
4-1
4.1 – Vehicle Inspection
Before driving your bus, you must be sure it is safe. You must
review the inspection report made by the previous driver. Only
if defects reported earlier have been certified as repaired or not
needed to be repaired, should you sign the previous driver’s report.
This is your certification that the defects reported earlier have been
fixed.
Vehicle Systems
Make sure these things are in good working order before driving:
• Service brakes.
• Parking brake.
• Steering mechanism.
• Lights and reflectors.
• Tires (front wheels must not have recapped or regrooved
tires).
• Horn.
• Windshield wiper or wipers.
• Rear-vision mirror or mirrors.
• 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 Interior
People sometimes damage unattended buses. Always check the
interior of the bus before driving to ensure rider safety. Aisles and
stairwells should always be clear. The following parts of your bus
must be in safe working condition:
• Each handhold and railing.
• Floor covering.
• Signaling devices, including the restroom emergency buzzer, if
the bus has a restroom.
• Emergency exit handles.
The seats must be safe for riders. All seats must be securely
fastened to the bus.
Never drive with an open emergency exit door or window. The
“Emergency Exit” sign on an emergency door must be clearly
visible. If there is a red emergency door light, it must work. Turn it on
at night or any other time you use your outside lights.
4-2
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’s higher clearance while driving with them
open.
Make sure your bus has the fire extinguisher and emergency
reflectors required by law. The bus must also have spare electrical
fuses, unless equipped with circuit breakers.
Use Your Seatbelt!
The driver’s seat must have a seat belt. Always use it for safety.
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 four-inch,
diamond-shaped hazard labels. See Figure 4.1. Watch for the
diamond-shaped labels. Do not transport any hazardous material
unless you are sure the rules allow it.
4-3
Hazard class definitions
Class
Class name
Example
1
Explosives
Ammunition, Dynamite, Fireworks
2
Gases
Propane, Oxygen, Helium
3
Flammable
Gasoline fuel, Acetone
4
Flammable solids
Matches, Fuses
5
Oxidizers
Ammonium nitrate, Hydrogen
peroxide
6
Poisons
Pesticides, Arsenic
7
Radioactive
Uranium, Plutonium
8
Corrosives
Hydrochloric acid, Battery acid
9
Miscellaneous
Formaldehyde, Asbestos
hazardous materials
None
ORM-D (Other
regulated materialdomestic)
Hair spray or charcoal
None
Combustible liquids
Fuel oils, Lighter fluid
Figure 4.1
Forbidden Hazardous Materials
Buses may carry small-arms ammunition labeled ORM-D,
emergency hospital supplies, and drugs. You can carry small
amounts of some other hazardous materials if the shipper cannot
send them any other way. Buses must never carry:
• Division 2.3 poison gas, liquid Class 6 poison, tear gas,
irritating material.
• 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.
4-4
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.
• Bus number.
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.
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. Don’t discharge
such riders where it would be unsafe for them. It may be safer at
the next scheduled stop or a well-lighted area where there are other
people. Many carriers have guidelines for handling disruptive riders.
4-5
Common Accidents
The most common bus accidents. Bus accidents often happen
at intersections. Use caution, even if a signal or stop sign controls
other traffic. School and mass transit buses sometimes scrape off
mirrors or hit passing vehicles when pulling out from a bus stop.
Remember the clearance your bus needs, and watch for poles and
tree limbs at stops. Know the size of the gap your bus needs to
accelerate and merge with traffic. Wait for the gap to open before
leaving the stop. Never assume other drivers will brake to give you
room when you signal or start to pull out.
Speed on Curves
Crashes on curves that kill people and destroy buses result
from excessive speed, often when rain or snow has made the road
slippery. Every banked curve has a safe “design speed.” In good
weather, the posted speed is safe for cars but it may be too high
for many buses. With good traction, the bus may roll over; with
poor traction, it might slide off the curve. Reduce speed for curves!
If your bus leans toward the outside on a banked curve, you are
driving too fast.
Railroad-highway Crossings Stops
Stop at RR Crossings:
Stop your bus between 15 and 50 feet before railroad crossings.
Listen and look in both directions for trains. You should open
your forward door if it improves your ability to see or hear an
approaching train.
Before crossing after a train has passed, make sure there isn’t
another train coming in the other direction on other tracks.
If your bus has a manual transmission, never change gears while
crossing the tracks.
You do not have to stop, but must slow down and carefully check
for other vehicles:
• At street car crossings.
• Where police or flaggers are directing traffic.
• If a traffic signal is green.
• At crossings marked as “exempt” or “abandoned.”
4-6
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’s safe, when:
• There is a traffic light showing green.
• The bridge has an attendant or traffic officer who controls
traffic whenever the bridge opens.
4.4 – After-trip Vehicle Inspection
Inspect your bus at the end of each shift. If you work for an
interstate carrier, you must complete a written inspection report
for each bus driven. The report must specify each bus and list any
defect that would affect safety or result in a breakdown. If there are
no defects, the report should say so.
Riders sometimes damage safety-related parts such as
handholds, seats, emergency exits, and windows. If you report this
damage at the end of a shift, mechanics can make repairs before
the bus goes out again. Mass transit drivers should also make
sure passenger signaling devices and brake-door interlocks work
properly.
4.5 – Prohibited Practices
Avoid fueling your bus with riders on board unless absolutely
necessary. Never refuel in a closed building with riders on board.
Don’t talk with riders, or engage in any other distracting activity,
while driving.
Do not tow or push a disabled bus with riders aboard the vehicle,
unless getting off would be unsafe. Only tow or push the bus to the
nearest safe spot to discharge passengers. Follow your employer’s
guidelines on towing or pushing disabled buses.
4.6 – Use of Brake-door Interlocks
Urban mass transit coaches may have a brake and accelerator
interlock system. The interlock applies the service 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.
4-7
Test your knowledge
1. Name some things to check in the interior of a bus during a pretrip inspection.
2. What are some hazardous materials you can transport by bus?
3. What are some hazardous materials you can’t transport by
bus?
4. What is a standee line?
5. Does it matter where you make a disruptive passenger get off
the bus?
6. How far from a railroad crossing should you stop?
7. When must you stop before crossing a drawbridge?
8. Describe from memory the “prohibited practices” listed in the
manual.
9. 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, reread Section 4.
4-8
Air Brakes
This section covers:
• Air brake system parts
• Dual air brake systems
• Inspecting air brakes
• Using air brakes
If you will drive a vehicle with air brakes, study this section.
You also need to study:
• Section 6, Combination Vehicles, if you will pull a trailer
with air brakes.
The air brake test will have questions from these sections.
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 6, Combination Vehicles.
Air brakes use compressed air to make the brakes work. Air
brakes are a good and safe way of stopping large and heavy
vehicles, but the brakes must be well maintained and used properly.
Air brakes are really three different braking systems: 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.
• 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 here in greater detail.
5-1
5.1 – The Parts of an Air Brake System
There are many parts to an air brake system. You should know
about the parts discussed here.
Air Compressor
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
Air Compressor Governor
The governor controls when the air compressor will pump air into
the air storage tanks. When air tank pressure rises to the “cut-out”
level (around 125 pounds per-square-inch or “psi”), the governor
stops the compressor from pumping air. When the tank pressure
falls to the “cut-in” pressure (around 100 psi), the governor allows
the compressor to start pumping again.
Air Storage Tanks
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 5.1.
• 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.
5-2
Air tank
Manual drain valve
Figure 5.1
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.
Check the alcohol container and fill up as necessary, every day
during cold weather. Daily air tank drainage is still needed to get rid
of water and oil. (Unless the system has automatic drain valves.)
Safety Valve
A safety relief valve is installed in the first tank the air
compressor pumps air to. The safety valve protects the tank and
the rest of the system from too much pressure. The valve is usually
set to open at 150 psi. If the safety valve releases air, something is
wrong. Have the fault fixed by a mechanic.
The Brake Pedal
You put on the brakes by pushing down the brake pedal. (also
called the foot valve or treadle valve.) Pushing the pedal down
harder applies more air pressure. Letting up on the brake pedal
reduces the air pressure and releases the brakes. Releasing the
brakes lets some compressed air go out of the system, so the air
pressure in the tanks is reduced. It must be made up by the air
compressor. Pressing and releasing the pedal unnecessarily can
let air out faster than the compressor can replace it. If the pressure
gets too low, the brakes won’t work.
5-3
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 (so called because it is shaped like the letter “S”). The s-cam
forces the brake shoes away from one another and presses them
against the inside of the brake drum. When you release the brake
pedal, the s-cam rotates back and a spring pulls the brake shoes
away from the drum, letting the wheels roll freely again. See Figure
5.2.
Brake drum
Brake chamber
Slack adjuster
Adjusting nut
Axle
Brake cam
Cam roller
Return spring
Brake
Brake shoe lining
Figure 5.2, Drum brake
5-4
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
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 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 and a buzzer.
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
5-5
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 buses it is common for the low pressure warning devices to
signal at 80-85 psi.
Stoplight 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, straight truck, and bus 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
5-6
the vehicle to a safe stop right away, while you can still control the
brakes.
The braking power of spring brakes depends on the brakes being
in adjustment. If the brakes are not adjusted properly, neither the
regular brakes nor the emergency/parking brakes will work right.
Parking Brake Controls
In newer vehicles with air brakes, you put on the parking brakes
using a diamond-shaped, yellow, push-pull control knob. You pull
the knob out to put the parking brakes (spring brakes) on, and push
it in to release them. On older vehicles, the parking brakes may be
controlled by a lever. Use the parking brakes whenever you park.
Caution. Never push the brake pedal down when the spring
brakes are on. If you do, the brakes could be damaged by the
combined forces of the springs and the air pressure. Many brake
systems are designed so this will not happen. But not all systems
are set up that way, and those that are may not always work. It is
much better to develop the habit of not pushing the brake pedal
down when the spring brakes are on.
Modulating control valves. In some vehicles a control handle
on the dash board may be used to apply the spring brakes
gradually. This is called a modulating valve. It is spring-loaded so
you have a feel for the braking action. The more you move the
control lever, the harder the spring brakes come on. They work this
way so you can control the spring brakes if the service brakes fail.
When parking a vehicle with a modulating control valve, move the
lever as far as it will go and hold it in place with the locking device.
Dual parking control valves. When main air pressure is lost,
the spring brakes come on. Some vehicles, such as buses, have a
separate air tank which can be used to release the spring brakes.
This is so you can move the vehicle in an emergency. One of the
valves is a push-pull type and is used to put on the spring brakes for
parking. The other valve is spring loaded in the “out” position. When
you push the control in, air from the separate air tank releases
the spring brakes so you can move. When you release the button,
the spring brakes come on again. There is only enough air in the
separate tank to do this a few times. Therefore, plan carefully when
moving. Otherwise, you may be stopped in a dangerous location
when the separate air supply runs out. See Figure 5.3.
5-7
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.
Tractor Protection Valve and
Emergency Trailer Brake Operation
Tractor protection valve
• Provides air supply
• Closes automatically if air supply
drops when driving.
The parking brakes, when applied,
close the tractor protection valve and
set the spring brakes at the same time.
Figure 5.3
5-8
On newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp comes on at start-up for
a bulb check, and then goes out quickly. On older systems, the lamp
could stay on until you are driving over five mph.
If the lamp stays on after the bulb check, or goes on once you
are under way, you may have lost ABS control at one or more
wheels.
In the case of towed units manufactured before it was required
by the Department of Transportation, it may be difficult to tell if the
unit is equipped with ABS. Look under the vehicle for the electronic
control unit (ECU) and wheel speed sensor wires coming from the
back of the brakes.
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease
or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when
wheels are about to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but it
does help you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.
Air brake system components and location
(Single circuit system)
Tractor Trailer
Hand valve
Highway valve
Pressure
gauge
Foot
valve
Compressor
One-way
check
valve
Dry
Quick
release
valve
Trailer
Trailer
reservoir
brake
chambers
Parking brake and
emergency brake
valve (Yellow)
Wet
Low pressure
Main reservoirs
warning
Safety valve
buzzer
Tractor
and switch
Emergency
parking
Tractor
Emergency
brake valve valve Parking maxi-
protection glad hands
brake
spring
brake
(Blue)
valve
Emergency
relay valve
Figure 5.4
5-9
Test your knowledge
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?
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 can’t answer them
all, reread subsection 5.1.
5.2 – 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, which
use a single set of brake controls. Each system has its own air
tanks, hoses, lines, etc. One system typically operates the regular
brakes on the rear axle or axles. The other system operates the
regular brakes on the front axle (and possibly one rear axle). Both
systems supply air to the trailer (if there is one). The first system
is called the “primary” system. The other is called the “secondary”
system. See Figure 5.4.
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.
5-10
5.3 – Inspecting Air Brake Systems
You should use the basic seven-step inspection procedure
described in Section 2 to inspect your vehicle. There are more
things to inspect on a vehicle with air brakes than one without them.
These things are discussed below, in the order they fit into the
seven-step method.
During Step 2 Engine Compartment Checks
Check Air Compressor Drive Belt (if compressor is belt-driven). If
the air compressor is belt-driven, check the condition and tightness
of the belt. It should be in good condition.
During Step 5 Walkaround Inspection
Check slack adjusters on S-cam brakes. Park on level ground
and chock the wheels to prevent the vehicle from moving. Release
the parking brakes so you can move the slack adjusters. Use
gloves and pull hard on each slack adjuster that you can reach. If
a slack adjuster moves more than about one inch where the push
rod attaches to it, it probably needs adjustment. Adjust it or have
it adjusted. Vehicles with too much brake slack can be very hard
to stop. Out-of-adjustment brakes are the most common problem
found in roadside inspections. Be safe. Check the slack adjusters.
All vehicles built since 1994 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
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
5-11
adjustment since this procedure usually does not fix the underlying
adjustment problem.
(Note: Automatic slack adjusters are made by different
manufacturers and do not all operate the same. Therefore, the
specific manufacturer’s Service Manual should be consulted prior to
troubleshooting a brake adjustment problem.
Vehicles equipped with automatic slack adjusters can be
dangerous because it gives you a false sense of security about the
effectiveness of the braking system.)
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 Air Supply System Checks
Do the following checks instead of the hydraulic brake check
shown in Section 2, Step 7: Check Brake System.
Test air-leakage rate. With a fully-charged air system (typically
125 psi), turn off the engine, release all brakes, 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. Next, with the brakes released, make a full
brake application with 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.
Test low pressure warning signal. With the engine off and all
the brakes released, turn the key on and step on and off the brake
pedal to reduce air tank pressure. The low air pressure warning
signal must come on before the pressure drops to less than 60
psi in the air tank (or tank with the lowest air pressure, in dual air
systems). See Figure 5.5.
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 single-circuit air system. In dual systems the stopping
distance will be increased. Only limited braking can be done before
the spring brakes come on.
5-12
Low air pressure warning devices

DIFF
LOCK
LOW
OIL
WATER
LOW
AIR

Light
Low pressure warning
LOW
AIR
Some vehicles are equipped with
a “wig-wag” that drops into the
driver’s view, and will not stay
up in place until the desired air
pressure is restored.
Drop arm “wig-wag”
Figure 5.5
Check that 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 close (pop out) on a combination vehicle and
the parking brake valve should close (pop out) on a single vehicle
when the air pressure falls to the manufacturer’s specification (20 –
45 psi). This will cause the spring brakes to come on. Check rate of air pressure buildup. When the engine is at
operating rpms, the pressure should build from 85 to 100 psi within
45 seconds in dual air systems. (If the vehicle has larger than
minimum air tanks, the buildup time can be longer and still be safe.
Check the manufacturer’s specifications.) In single air systems (pre1975), typical requirements are pressure buildup from 50 to 90 psi
within 3 minutes with the engine at an idle speed of 600-900 rpms.
5-13
If air pressure does not build up fast enough, your pressure may
drop too low during driving, requiring an emergency stop. Don’t
drive until you get the problem fixed.
Check air compressor governor cut-in and cut-out
pressures. Pumping by the air compressor should start at about
100 psi and stop at about 125 psi. (Some vehicles may exceed 125
psi. Check manufacturer’s specifications.) Run the engine at a fast
idle. The air governor should cut-out the air compressor at about the
manufacturer’s specified pressure. The air pressure shown by your
gauge(s) will stop rising. With the engine idling, step on and off the
brake to reduce the air tank pressure. The compressor should cut-in
at about the manufacturer’s specified cut-in pressure. The pressure
should begin to rise.
If the air governor does not work as described above, it may
need to be fixed. A governor that does not work properly may not
keep enough air pressure for safe driving.
Brake checks
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, and apply the
brakes firmly using the brake pedal. Note any vehicle “pulling” to
one side, unusual feel, noises, or delayed stopping action.
Test trailer hand valve (when equipped). Apply the trailer hand
valve and attempt to pull forward or pull forward slowly and apply
the trailer hand valve.
These tests may show you problems, which you otherwise
wouldn’t know about until you needed the brakes on the road.
5-14
Test your knowledge
1. What is a dual air brake system?
2. What are the slack adjusters?
3. How can you check slack adjusters?
4. How can you test the low pressure warning signal?
5. 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 can’t answer them
all, reread subsections 5.2 and 5.3.
5.4 – 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,
don’t push the clutch in until the engine rpm is down close to idle.
When stopped, select a starting gear.
Braking with Antilock Brakes
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a vehicle without
ABS, your wheels may lock up. When your steering wheels lock up,
you lose steering control. When your other wheels lock up, you may
skid, jackknife, or even spin the vehicle.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up. The computer senses
impending lockup, reduces the braking pressure to a safe level, and
you maintain control.
You may or may not be able to stop faster with ABS, but you
should be able to steer around an obstacle while braking, and avoid
skids caused by over braking.
Having ABS on only the tractor, only the trailer, or even on
only one axle, still gives you more control over the vehicle during
braking. Brake normally.
When only the tractor has ABS, you should be able to maintain
steering control, and there is less chance of jackknifing. But, keep
your eye on the trailer and let up on the brakes (if you can safely do
so) if it begins to swing out.
When only the trailer has ABS, the trailer is less likely to swing
out, but if you lose steering control or start a tractor jackknife, let up
on the brakes (if you can safely do so) until you gain control.
When you drive a tractor-trailer combination with ABS, you
should brake as you always have. In other words:
5-15
• Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely and stay
in control.
• Brake the same way, regardless of whether you have ABS on
the tractor, the trailer, or both.
• As you slow down, monitor your tractor and trailer and back off
the brakes (if it is safe to do so) to stay in control.
There is only one exception to this procedure, if you always drive
a straight truck or combination with working ABS on all axles, in an
emergency stop, you can fully apply the brakes.
Without ABS, you still have normal brake functions. Drive and
brake as you always have.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still have regular
brakes. Drive normally, but get the system serviced soon.
Emergency Stops
If somebody suddenly pulls out in front of you, your natural
response is to hit the brakes. This is a good response if there’s
enough distance to stop, and you use the brakes correctly.
You should brake in a way that will keep your vehicle in a straight
line and allow you to turn if it becomes necessary. You can use the
“controlled braking” method or the “stab braking” method.
Controlled braking. With this method, you apply the brakes as
hard as you can without locking the wheels. Keep steering wheel
movements very small while doing this. If you need to make a
larger steering adjustment or if the wheels lock, release the brakes.
Reapply the brakes as soon as you can.
Stab Braking
• Apply your brakes all the way.
• Release 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 reapply the brakes
before the wheels start rolling, the vehicle won’t straighten out.
Stopping Distance
Stopping distance was described in Section 2 under “Speed and
Stopping Distance.” With air brakes there is an added delay – “Brake
Lag.” This is the time required for the brakes to work after the brake
pedal is pushed. With hydraulic brakes (used on cars and light/
medium trucks), the brakes work instantly. However, with air brakes,
it takes a little time (one half second or more) for the air to flow
5-16
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 Stopping 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 5.6.
Figure 5.6
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.
5-17
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. Brakes
can get out of adjustment quickly, especially when they are hot.
Therefore, check brake adjustment often.
Proper Braking Technique
Remember. The use of brakes on a long and/or steep
downgrade is only a supplement to the braking effect of the engine.
Once the vehicle is in the proper low gear, the following is the
proper braking technique:
• Apply the brakes just hard enough to feel a definite slowdown.
• When your speed has been reduced to approximately five
mph below your “safe” speed, release the brakes. (This
application should last for about three seconds.)
• When your speed has increased to your “safe” speed, repeat
steps 1 and 2.
For example, if your “safe” speed is 40 mph, you would not apply
the brakes until your speed reaches 40 mph. You now apply the
brakes hard enough to gradually reduce your speed to 35 mph and
then release the brakes. Repeat this as often as necessary until you
have reached the end of the downgrade.
Low Air Pressure
If the low air pressure warning comes on, stop and safely park
your vehicle as soon as possible. There might be an air leak in the
system. Controlled braking is possible only while enough air remains
in the air tanks. The spring brakes will come on when the air pressure
drops into the range of 20 to 45 psi. A heavily loaded vehicle will take
a long distance to stop because the spring brakes do not work on all
axles. Lightly loaded vehicles or vehicles on slippery roads may skid
out of control when the spring brakes come on. It is much safer to stop
while there is enough air in the tanks to use the foot brakes.
5-18
5.4.8 – 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).
Don’t use the parking brakes if the brakes are very hot (from
just having come down a steep grade), or if the brakes are very
wet in freezing temperatures. If they are used while they are very
hot, they can be damaged by the heat. If they are used in freezing
temperatures when the brakes are very wet, they can freeze so the
vehicle cannot move. Use wheel chocks on a level surface to hold
the vehicle. Let hot brakes cool before using the parking brakes. If
the brakes are wet, use the brakes lightly while driving in a low gear
to heat and dry them.
If your vehicle does not have automatic air tank drains, drain your
air tanks at the end of each working day to remove moisture and oil.
Otherwise, the brakes could fail.
Never leave your vehicle unattended without applying the parking
brakes or chocking the wheels. Your vehicle might roll away and
cause injury and damage.
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 tractor-trailer 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 can’t answer them
all, reread subsection 5.4.
5-19
5-20
Combination
Vehicles
This section covers:
• Driving combinations
• Combination vehicle air brakes
• Antilock brake systems
• Coupling and uncoupling
• Inspecting combinations
If you will pull a trailer, study this section.
You also need to study:
• Section 5, Air Brakes.
• Section 7, if you drive doubles or triple trailers.
Your combination test will have questions from each of
these sections.
This section provides information needed to pass the tests
for combination vehicles (tractor-trailer, doubles, triples, straight
truck with trailer). The information is only to give you the minimum
knowledge needed for driving common combination vehicles.
6-1
6.1 – Driving Combination Vehicles Safely
Combination vehicles are usually heavier, longer, and require
more driving skill than single commercial vehicles. This means
that drivers of combination vehicles need more knowledge and
skill than drivers of single vehicles. In this section, we talk about
some important safety factors that apply specifically to combination
vehicles.
Rollover Risks
More than half of truck driver deaths in crashes are the result of
truck rollovers. When more cargo is piled up in a truck, the “center
of gravity” moves higher up from the road. The truck becomes
easier to turn over. Fully loaded rigs are ten times more likely to roll
over in a crash than empty rigs.
These two things will help you prevent rollover:
• Keep the cargo as close to the ground as possible.
• Drive slowly around turns.
Keeping cargo low is even more important in combination
vehicles than in straight trucks. Also, keep the load centered on
your rig. If the load is to one side so it makes a trailer lean, a
rollover is more likely. Make sure your cargo is centered and spread
out as much as possible. (Cargo distribution is covered in Section 3
of this manual.)
Rollovers happen when you turn too fast. Drive slowly around
corners, on ramps, and off ramps. Avoid quick lane changes,
especially when fully loaded.
Steer Gently
Trucks with trailers have a dangerous “crack-the-whip” effect.
When you make a quick lane change, the crack-the-whip effect can
turn the trailer over. There are many accidents where only the trailer
has overturned.
“Rearward amplification” causes the crack-the-whip effect. Figure
6.1 shows eight types of combination vehicles and the rearward
amplification each has in a quick lane change. Rigs with the least
crack-the-whip effect are shown at the top and those with the most,
at the bottom. Rearward amplification of 2.0 in the chart means that
the rear trailer is twice as likely to turn over as the tractor. You can
see that triples have a rearward amplification of 3.5. This means
you can roll the last trailer of triples 3.5 times as easily as a fiveaxle tractor.
Steer gently and smoothly when you are pulling trailers. If you
make a sudden movement with your steering wheel, your trailer
6-2
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
semitrailers). Tests have shown that bobtails can be very hard to
stop smoothly. It takes them longer to stop than a tractor-semitrailer
loaded to maximum gross weight.
In any combination rig, allow lots of following distance and look
far ahead, so you can brake early. Don’t be caught by surprise and
have to make a “panic” stop.
Influence of combination type on rearward amplification
5 axle tractor
semitrailer
with 45 ft.
1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0
3 axle tractor
semitrailer
with 27 ft.
turnpike double
45 ft. trailers
B-train double
27 ft. trailers
Rocky mountain
double - 45 ft.
California truck
full trailer
65 ft.
conventional
double - 27 ft.
Triple
27 ft. trailers
Figure 6.1
6-3
Railroad-highway Crossings
Railroad-highway crossings can also cause problems,
particularly when pulling trailers with low underneath clearance.
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.
Prevent Trailer Skids
When the wheels of a trailer lock up, the trailer will tend to swing
around. This is more likely to happen when the trailer is empty
or lightly loaded. This type of jackknife is often called a “trailer
jackknife.” See Figure 6.2.
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 trailer swings out of your lane, it’s 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).
• 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.
6-4
Line of travel
Trailer wheels
locked-up and
sliding
Figure 6.2
Trailer jacknife
Turn Wide
When a vehicle goes around a corner, the rear wheels follow
a different path than the front wheels. This is called offtracking
or “cheating.” Figure 6.3 shows how offtracking causes the path
followed by a tractor to be wider than the rig itself. Longer vehicles
will offtrack more. The rear wheels of the powered unit (truck or
tractor) will offtrack some, and the rear wheels of the trailer will
offtrack even more. If there is more than one trailer, the rear wheels
of the last trailer will offtrack the most. Steer the front end wide
enough around a corner so the rear end does not run over the curb,
pedestrians, 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 6.4.
6-5
Maximum width of swept path
Path followed by the
innermost tire
Path followed by the
ouside tractor tire
Figure 6.3
Jug handle INCORRECT
Button hook CORRECT
Figure 6.4
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, you must turn the
wheel the other way to follow the trailer.
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 6.5.
6-6
Turn wheel
this way to
make trailer
go RIGHT
Go right
Turn wheel
this way to
make trailer
go LEFT
Go left
Figure 6.5
Backing a trailer
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.
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.
Use warning devices. Use your four-way flashers before
backing. Sound your horn if your vehicle does not have a working
backup warning device.
6-7
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 turning the top of the steering
wheel in the direction of the drift.
Pull forward. When backing a trailer, make pull-ups to reposition your vehicle as needed.
Test your knowledge
1. What two things are important to prevent rollover?
2. When you turn suddenly while pulling doubles, which trailer is
most likely to turn over?
3. Why should you not use the trailer hand brake to straighten out
a jackknifing trailer?
4. What is offtracking?
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 railroad-highway
crossings?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t answer them
all, reread subsection 6.1.
6.2 – Combination Vehicle Air Brakes
You should study Section 5: 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 5. These
parts are described below.
Trailer Hand Valve
The trailer hand valve (also called the trolley valve or Johnson
bar) works the trailer brakes. The trailer hand valve should be used
only to test the trailer brakes. Do not use it in driving because of the
danger of making the trailer skid. The foot brake sends air to all of
the brakes on the vehicle (including the trailer(s)). There is much
less danger of causing a skid or jackknife when using just the foot
brake.
Never use the hand valve for parking because all the air might
leak out, unlocking the brakes (in trailers that don’t have spring
6-8
brakes). Always use the parking brakes when parking. If the trailer
does not have spring brakes, use wheel chocks to keep the trailer
from moving.
Tractor Protection Valve
The tractor protection valve keeps air in the tractor or truck brake
system should the trailer break away or develop a bad leak. The
tractor protection valve is controlled by the “trailer air supply” control
valve in the cab. The control valve allows you to open and shut
the tractor protection valve. The tractor protection valve will close
automatically if air pressure is low (in the range of 20 to 45 psi).
When the tractor protection valve closes, it stops any air from going
out of the tractor. It also lets the air out of the trailer emergency line.
This causes the trailer emergency brakes to come on, with possible
loss of control. (Emergency brakes are covered later.)
Trailer Air Supply Control
The trailer air supply control on newer vehicles is a red eightsided knob, which you use to control the tractor protection valve.
You push it in to supply the trailer with air, and pull it out to shut the
air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes. The valve will pop
out (thus closing the tractor protection valve) when the air pressure
drops into the range of 20 to 45 psi. Tractor protection valve
controls or “emergency” valves on older vehicles may not operate
automatically. There may be a lever rather than a knob. The “normal”
position is used for pulling a trailer. The “emergency” position is
used to shut the air off and put on the trailer emergency brakes.
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
6-9
combination vehicles. Loss of air pressure in the emergency line
causes the trailer emergency brakes to come on. The pressure loss
could be caused by a trailer breaking loose, thus tearing apart the
emergency air hose. Or it could be caused by a hose, metal tubing,
or other part 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 90 degree angle to each other. A turn of the glad
hand attached to the hose will join and lock the couplers.
When coupling, make sure to couple the proper glad hands
together. To help avoid mistakes, colors are sometimes used. Blue
is used for the service lines and red for the emergency (supply)
lines. Sometimes, metal tags are attached to the lines with the
words “service” and “emergency” stamped on them. See Figure 6.6.
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.
6-10
Emergency line
Check for cracks
Truck line
Trailer line
Service line
Figure 6.6
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.
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.
6-11
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.
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, reread subsection 6.2.
6.3 – 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 6.7. Dollies
manufactured on or after March 1, 1998, are required to have a
lamp on the left side.
6-12
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.
Testing ABS Systems
ABS test light
Figure 6.7
6.3.2 – Braking with ABS
ABS is an addition to your normal brakes. It does not decrease
or increase your normal braking capability. ABS only activates when
wheels are about to lock up.
ABS does not necessarily shorten your stopping distance, but it
does help you keep the vehicle under control during hard braking.
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.
6-13
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.
6.4 – 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.
Coupling Tractor-Semitrailers
Step 1. Inspect fifth wheel
• Check for damaged/missing parts.
• Check to see that the mounting to the tractor is secure, no
cracks in frame, etc.
• Be sure 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 the fifth wheel is in proper position for coupling.
• 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.
6-14
Step 2. Inspect area and chock wheels
• Make sure the area around the vehicle is clear.
• Be sure trailer wheels are chocked or spring brakes are on.
• Check that cargo (if any) is secured against movement due to
the tractor being coupled to the trailer.
Step 3. Position tractor
• Put the tractor directly in front of the trailer. (Never back under
the trailer at an angle because you might push the trailer
sideways and break the landing gear.)
• Check position, using outside mirrors, by looking down both
sides of the trailer.
Step 4. Back slowly
• Back until the fifth wheel just touches the trailer.
• Don’t hit the trailer.
Step 5. Secure tractor
• Put on the parking brake.
• Put the transmission in neutral.
Step 6. Check trailer height
• 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.)
• Check that the kingpin and fifth wheel are aligned.
Step 7. Connect air lines to trailer
• Check the glad hand seals and connect the tractor emergency
air line to the trailer emergency glad hand.
• Check the glad hand seals and connect the tractor service air
line to the trailer service glad hand.
• Make sure the air lines are safely supported where they won’t
be crushed or caught while the tractor is backing under the
trailer.
6-15
Step 8. Supply air to trailer
• From the cab, push in the “air supply” knob or move the tractor
protection valve control from the “emergency” to the “normal”
position to supply air to the trailer brake system.
• Wait until the air pressure is normal.
• Check the brake system for crossed air lines.
-- Shut the engine off so you can hear the brakes.
-- Apply and release the trailer brakes and listen for the sound
of the trailer brakes being applied and released. You should
hear the brakes move when applied and the air escape
when the brakes are released.
-- Check the air brake system pressure gauge for signs of
major air loss.
• When you are sure the trailer brakes are working, start the
engine.
• Make sure the air pressure is up to normal.
Step 9. Lock trailer brakes
• Pull out the “air supply” knob or move the tractor protection
valve control from “normal” to “emergency.”
Step 10. Back under trailer
• Use the lowest reverse gear.
• Back the tractor slowly under the trailer to avoid hitting the
kingpin too hard.
• Stop when the kingpin is locked into the fifth wheel.
Step 11. Check connection for security
• Raise the trailer landing gear slightly off the ground.
• Pull the tractor gently forward while the trailer brakes are still
locked to check that the trailer is locked onto the tractor.
Step 12. Secure vehicle
• Put the transmission in neutral.
• Put the parking brakes on.
• Shut off the engine and take the key with you so someone
else won’t move the truck while you are under it.
6-16
Step 13. Inspect coupling
• Use a flashlight, if necessary.
• Make sure there is no space between the upper and lower
fifth wheel. If there is space, something is wrong (kingpin may
be on top of the closed fifth wheel jaws, and the trailer would
come loose very easily).
• 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.
• Check that the locking lever is in the “lock” position.
• Check that the safety latch is in position over locking lever. (On
some fifth wheels the catch must be put in place by hand.)
• If the coupling isn’t right, don’t drive the coupled unit; get it
fixed.
Step 14. Connect the electrical cord and check air lines
• Plug the electrical cord into the trailer and fasten the safety
catch.
• Check both the air lines and the electrical line for signs of
damage.
• Make sure the air and electrical lines will not hit any moving
parts of vehicle.
Step 15. Raise front trailer supports (Landing gear)
• Use the 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 the
landing gear only part way up as it may catch on railroad
tracks or other things.)
• After raising the landing gear, secure the crank handle safely.
• When the full weight of the trailer is resting on the tractor:
-- Check for enough clearance between the rear of the tractor
frame and the landing gear. (When the tractor turns sharply,
it must not hit the landing gear.)
-- 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
• Remove and store the wheel chocks in a safe place.
6-17
Uncoupling Tractor-Semitrailers
The following steps will help you to uncouple safely.
Step 1. Position rig
• Make sure the surface of the parking area can support the
weight of the trailer.
• Have the tractor lined up with the trailer. (Pulling out at an
angle can damage landing gear.)
Step 2. Ease pressure on locking jaws
• Shut off the trailer air supply to lock the trailer brakes.
• Ease pressure on the fifth wheel locking jaws by backing up
gently. (This will help you release the fifth wheel locking lever.)
• Put the parking brakes on while the tractor is pushing against
the kingpin. (This will hold the rig with pressure off the locking
jaws.)
Step 3. Chock 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 the trailer is empty, lower the landing gear until it makes firm
contact with the ground.
• If the trailer is loaded, after the landing gear makes firm
contact with the ground, turn the crank in low gear a few extra
turns. This will lift some weight off the tractor. (Do not lift the
trailer off the fifth wheel.) This will:
-- Make it easier to unlatch the fifth wheel.
-- Make it easier to couple next time.
Step 5. Disconnect air lines and electrical cable
• Disconnect the air lines from the trailer. Connect the air line
glad hands to dummy couplers at the back of the cab or
couple them together.
• Hang the electrical cable with the plug down to prevent
moisture from entering it.
• Make sure the lines are supported so they won’t be damaged
while driving the tractor.
6-18
Step 6. Unlock fifth wheel
• Raise the release handle lock.
• Pull the release handle to “open” position.
• Keep the 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 the tractor forward until the fifth wheel comes out from
under the trailer.
• Stop with the tractor frame under the trailer (prevents the
trailer from falling to the ground if the landing gear should
collapse or sink).
Step 8. Secure tractor
• Apply the parking brake.
• Place the transmission in neutral.
Step 9. Inspect trailer supports
• Make sure the ground is supporting trailer.
• Make sure the landing gear is not damaged.
Step 10. Pull tractor clear of trailer
• Release the parking brakes.
• Check the area and drive the tractor forward until it clears.
Test your knowledge
1. What might happen if the trailer is too high when you try to
couple?
2. After coupling, how much space should be between the upper
and lower fifth wheel?
3. 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, reread subsections 6.3 and 6.4.
6-19
6.5 – Inspecting a Combination Vehicle
Use the seven-step inspection procedure described in Section
2 to inspect your combination vehicle. There are more things to
inspect on a combination vehicle than on a single vehicle. (For
example, tires, wheels, lights, reflectors, etc.) However, there are
also some new things to check. These are discussed below.
Additional Things to Check During a Walkaround
Inspection
Do these checks in addition to those already listed in Section 2.
Coupling system areas
Check the 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 6.8.
• Release arm properly seated and safety latch/lock engaged.
Kingpin
Base
Shank
Head
Kingpin
Figure 6.8
6-20
Check the 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 the landing gear, or the cab hit the trailer, during turns.
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.
Combination Vehicle Brake Check
Do these checks in addition to Section 5.3, Inspecting Air Brake
Systems.
The following section explains how to check air brakes on
combination vehicles. Check the brakes on a double or triple trailer
as you would any combination vehicle.
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, 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.
6-21
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 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
control or trailer emergency valve), or place it in the “emergency”
position. Pull gently on the trailer with the tractor to check that the
trailer emergency brakes are on.
Test trailer service brakes. Check for normal air pressure,
release the parking brakes, move the vehicle forward slowly,
and apply trailer brakes with the hand control (trolley valve), if so
equipped. You should feel the brakes come on. This tells you the
trailer brakes are connected and working. (The trailer brakes should
be tested with the hand valve but controlled in normal operation
with the foot pedal, which applies air to the service brakes at all
wheels.)
Test your knowledge
1. 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, reread subsection 6.5.
6-22
Doubles and Triples
This section covers:
• Pulling double/triple trailers
• Coupling and uncoupling
• Inspecting doubles and triples
• Checking air brakes
If you will pull a double-triple trailer, study this section.
You also need to study:
• Section 2, Driving Safely.
• Section 5, Air Brakes.
• Section 6, Combination Vehicles.
The doubles/triples test will have questions from these
sections.
This section has information you need to pass the CDL
knowledge test for driving safely with double and triple trailers. It
tells about how important it is to be very careful when driving with
more than one trailer, how to couple and uncouple correctly, and
about inspecting doubles and triples carefully.
7-1
7.1 – Pulling Double/Triple Trailers
Take special care when pulling two and three trailers. There
are more things that can go wrong, and doubles/triples are less
stable than other commercial vehicles. Some areas of concern are
discussed below.
Prevent 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 6.1 of this manual.
Inspect Completely
There are more critical parts to check when you have two or
three trailers. Check them all. Follow the procedures described later
in this section.
Look Far Ahead
Doubles and triples must be driven very smoothly to avoid
rollover or jackknife. Therefore, look far ahead so you can slow
down or change lanes gradually when necessary.
Manage Space
Doubles and triples take up more space than other commercial
vehicles. They are not only longer, but also need more space
because they can’t be turned or stopped suddenly. Allow more
following distance. Make sure you have large enough gaps before
entering or crossing traffic. Be certain you are clear at the sides
before changing lanes.
Adverse Conditions
Be more careful in adverse conditions. In bad weather, slippery
conditions, and mountain driving, you must be especially careful
if you drive double and triple bottoms. You will have greater length
and more dead axles to pull with your drive axles than other drivers.
There is more chance for skids and loss of traction.
7-2
Parking the Vehicle
Make sure you do not get in a spot you cannot pull straight
through. You need to be aware of how parking lots are arranged in
order to avoid a long and difficult escape.
Antilock Braking Systems on Converter Dollies
Converter dollies built on or after March 1, 1998, are required to
have antilock brakes. These dollies will have a yellow lamp on the
left side of the dolly.
7.2 – Coupling and Uncoupling
Knowing how to couple and uncouple correctly is basic to safe
operation of doubles and triples. Wrong coupling and uncoupling
can be very dangerous. Coupling and uncoupling steps for doubles
and triples are listed below.
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 trailer emergency brakes (if the
slack adjusters are correctly adjusted). Chock the wheels if you
have any doubt about the brakes.
For the safest handling on the road, the more heavily loaded
semitrailer should be in first position behind the tractor. The lighter
trailer should be in the rear.
A converter gear on a dolly is a coupling device of one or two
axles and a fifth wheel by which a semitrailer can be coupled to the
rear of a tractor-trailer combination forming a double bottom rig.
See Figure 7.1.
7-3
Air and electrical
connections
Lead trailer
Rear trailer
Fifth wheel
Ring hitch
Kingpin
Air hoses
Converter gear
Landing gear
Figure 7.1
Position converter dolly in front of second (rear) trailer
• Release the dolly brakes by opening the air tank petcock.
Or, if the dolly has spring brakes, use the dolly parking brake
control.
• If the distance is not too great, wheel the dolly into position by
hand so it is in line with the kingpin.
• Or, use the tractor and the first semitrailer to pick up the
converter dolly:
-- Position the combination as close as possible to the
converter dolly.
-- Move the dolly to rear of the first semitrailer and couple it to
the trailer.
-- Lock the pintle hook.
-- Secure the dolly support in the raised position.
-- Pull the dolly into position as close as possible to the nose
of the second semitrailer.
-- Lower the dolly support.
-- Unhook the dolly from the first trailer.
-- Wheel the dolly into position in front of the second trailer in
line with the kingpin.
Connect converter dolly to front trailer
• Back the first semitrailer into position in front of the dolly tongue.
• Hook the dolly to the front trailer.
• Lock the pintle hook.
• Secure the converter gear support in the raised position.
7-4
Connect converter dolly to rear trailer
• Make sure the trailer brakes are locked and/or the wheels
chocked.
• Make sure the trailer height is correct. (It must be slightly lower
than the center of the fifth wheel, so the trailer is raised slightly
when the dolly is pushed under.)
• Back the converter dolly under the rear trailer.
• Raise the landing gear slightly off the ground to prevent
damage if the trailer moves.
• Test the coupling by pulling against the pin of the second
semitrailer.
• Make a visual check of the coupling. (No space between the
upper and lower fifth wheel. Locking jaws closed on kingpin.)
• Connect safety chains, air hoses, and light cords.
• Close the converter dolly air tank petcock and shut-off valves
at the rear of the second trailer (service and emergency shutoffs).
• Open the shut-off valves at the rear of the first trailer (and on
the dolly, if so equipped).
• Raise the landing gear completely.
• Charge the trailer brakes (push the “air supply” knob in),
and check for air at the rear of the second trailer by opening
the emergency line shut-off. If the air pressure isn’t there,
something is wrong and the brakes won’t work.
Uncoupling Twin Trailers
Uncouple rear trailer
• Park the rig in a straight line on firm, level ground.
• Apply the parking brakes so the rig won’t move.
• Chock the wheels of the second trailer if it doesn’t have spring
brakes.
• Lower the landing gear of the second semitrailer enough to
remove some weight from the dolly.
• Close the air shut-offs at the rear of the first semitrailer (and
on the dolly if so equipped).
• Disconnect all of the dolly air and electric lines and secure
them.
• Release the dolly brakes.
• Release the converter dolly fifth wheel latch.
• Slowly pull the tractor, first semitrailer, and dolly forward to pull
the dolly out from under the rear semitrailer.
7-5
Uncouple converter dolly
• Lower the dolly landing gear.
• Disconnect the safety chains.
• Apply the converter gear spring brakes or chock wheels.
• Release the pintle hook on the first semi-trailer.
• Slowly pull clear of the dolly.
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 semitrailer to second/third trailers
• Couple the tractor to the first trailer. Use the method already
described for coupling tractor-semitrailers.
• Move the converter dolly into position and couple the first
trailer to the second trailer using the method for coupling
doubles. The triples rig is now complete.
Uncouple triple-trailer rig
• Uncouple the third trailer by pulling the dolly out, then
unhitching the dolly using the method for uncoupling doubles.
• Uncouple the remainder of the rig as you would any doublebottom 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 tractortrailer combinations that are in use. There are too many to cover in
this manual. You will need to learn the correct way to couple and
uncouple the vehicle(s) you will drive according to the manufacturer
and/or owner specifications.
7.3 – Inspecting Doubles and Triples
Use the seven-step inspection procedure described in Section
2 to inspect your combination vehicle. There are more things to
inspect on a combination vehicle than on a single vehicle. Many
of these items are simply more of what you would find on a single
vehicle. (For example, tires, wheels, lights, reflectors, etc.) However,
there are also some new things to check. These are discussed here.
7-6
Additional Checks
Do these checks in addition to those already listed in Section 2,
Step 5, Do walkaround inspection.
Coupling system areas
Check the fifth wheel (lower).
• Securely mounted to the frame.
• No missing or damaged parts.
• Enough grease.
• No visible space between the upper and lower fifth wheel.
• Locking jaws around the shank, not the head of kingpin.
• Release arm is properly seated and safety latch/lock is
engaged.
Check the fifth wheel (upper).
• Glide plate securely mounted to trailer frame.
• Kingpin not damaged.
Air and electric lines to the 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 the fifth wheel is not so far forward that the tractor
frame will hit the landing gear, or the cab will hit the trailer,
during turns.
Landing gear
• Fully raised, no missing parts, not bent or otherwise damaged.
• Crank handle is in place and secured.
• If power-operated, 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.
7-7
• Be sure air lines are supported and glad hands are properly
connected.
• If the spare tire is carried on the converter gear (dolly), make
sure it’s secured.
• Be sure the pintle-eye of the dolly is in place in the pintle hook
of the trailer(s).
• Make sure the pintle hook is latched.
• Safety chains should be secured to trailer(s).
• Be sure the light cords are firmly in the sockets on trailers.
Additional Things to Check During a Walkaround
Inspection
Do these checks in addition to subsection 5.3, Inspecting Air
Brake Systems.
7.4 – Doubles/Triples Air Brake Check
Check the brakes on a double or triple trailer as you would any
combination vehicle. Subsection 6.5 explains how to check air
brakes on combination vehicles. You must also make the following
checks on your double or triple trailers.
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 shutoff valve at the rear of the last trailer. You should hear air
escaping, showing the entire system is charged.
• Close the emergency line valve.
• Open the service line valve to check that service pressure
goes through all the trailers (this test assumes 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.
7-8
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.)
7-9
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, reread Section 7.
7-10
Tank Vehicles
This section covers:
• Inspecting tank vehicles
• Driving tank vehicles
• Safe driving rules
If you will drive a vehicle with a tank, study this section.
You also need to study:
• Section 2, Driving Safely.
• Section 6, Combination Vehicles.
• Section 9, Hazardous Materials.
Your tank vehicle test will have questions from each of these
sections.
This section has information needed to pass the CDL knowledge
test for driving a tank vehicle. 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 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.
Before loading, unloading, or driving a tanker, inspect the vehicle.
This makes sure that the vehicle is safe to carry the liquid or gas
and is safe to drive.
8-1
8.1 – Inspecting Tank Vehicles
Tank vehicles have special items that you need to check. Tank
vehicles come in many types and sizes. You need to check the
vehicle’s operator manual to make sure you know how to inspect
your tank vehicle.
Leaks
On all tank vehicles, the most important item to check for is
leaks. Check under and around the vehicle for signs of any leaking.
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.
• Check manhole covers and vents. Make sure the covers have
gaskets and they close correctly. Keep the vents clear so they
work correctly.
Check Special Purpose Equipment
If your vehicle has any of the following equipment, make sure it
works:
• Vapor recovery kits.
• Grounding and bonding cables.
• Emergency shut-off systems.
• Built-in fire extinguisher.
Never drive a tank vehicle with open valves or manhole covers.
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).
8-2
8.2 – Driving Tank Vehicles
Hauling liquids in tanks requires special skills because of the
high center of gravity and liquid movement. See Figure 8.1.
CG
60˝ - 78˝ high
CG18˝-24˝
Figure 8.1
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.
Danger of Surge
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.
8-3
Baffled Tanks
Baffled liquid tanks have bulkheads in them with holes that let
the liquid flow through. The baffles help to control the forward and
backward liquid surge. Side-to-side surge can still occur. This can
cause a roll over.
Un-baffled Tanks
Un-baffled liquid tankers (sometimes called “smooth bore” tanks)
have nothing inside to slow down the flow of the liquid. Therefore,
forward-and-back surge is very strong. Un-baffled tanks are usually
those that transport food products (milk, for example). (Sanitation
regulations forbid the use of baffles because of the difficulty in
cleaning the inside of the tank.) Be extremely cautious (slow and
careful) in driving smooth bore tanks, especially when starting and
stopping.
Outage
Never load a cargo tank totally full. Liquids expand as they warm
and you must leave room for the expanding liquid. This is called
“outage.” Since different liquids expand by different amounts, they
require different amounts of outage. You must know the outage
requirement when hauling liquids in bulk.
How Much to Load?
A full tank of dense liquid (such as some acids) may exceed
legal weight limits. For that reason, you may often only partially fill
tanks with heavy liquids. The amount of liquid to load into a tank
depends on:
• The amount the liquid will expand in transit.
• The weight of the liquid.
• Legal weight limits.
8.3 – Safe Driving Rules
In order to drive tank vehicles safely, you must remember to
follow all the safe driving rules. A few of these rules are:
Drive Smoothly
Because of the high center of gravity and the surge of the liquid,
you must start, slow down, and stop very smoothly. Also, make
smooth turns and lane changes.
8-4
Controlling Surge
Keep a steady pressure on the brakes. Do not release too soon
when coming to a stop.
Brake far in advance of a stop and increase your following
distance.
If you must make a quick stop to avoid a crash, use controlled
or stab braking. If you do not remember how to stop using these
methods, review subsection 2.17. Also, remember that if you steer
quickly while braking, your vehicle may roll over.
Curves
Slow down before curves, then accelerate slightly through the
curve. The posted speed for a curve may be too fast for a tank
vehicle.
Stopping Distance
Keep in mind how much space you need to stop your vehicle.
Remember that wet roads double the normal stopping distance.
Empty tank vehicles may take longer to stop than full ones.
Skids
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.
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,
reread Section 8.
8-5
8-6
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
If you will drive a vehicle with hazardous materials placards,
study this section.
If you are applying for your first CDL, also study all sections
for the class of license and endorsements you want.
Federal regulations require all hazardous materials
endorsement holders and applicants to undergo a background
and fingerprint check before a new or renewal endorsement
can be issued. No driver may transport hazardous materials
unless they have successfully passed these checks. Additional
information, including driver eligibility requirements, is located
at the end of this section.
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.
9-1
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 must have a commercial driver license (CDL) with a
hazardous materials endorsement before you drive any size vehicle
that is used to transport hazardous material as defined in 49 CFR
383.5. 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 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.
9-2
All drivers must be trained in the security risks of hazardous
materials transportation. This training includes 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
a 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.
9.1 – The Intent of the Regulations
Contain the Material
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.”
Communicate the Risk
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.
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.
• Properly placard your vehicle in accordance with the rules.
• Safely transport shipments.
9-3
Learn the rules and follow them. Following the rules reduces
the risk of injury from hazardous materials. Taking shortcuts by
breaking rules is unsafe. Rule breakers can be fined and put in 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.
9.2 – Hazardous Materials Transportation:
Who Does What
The Shipper
Sends products from one place to another by truck, rail, vessel,
or airplane.
Uses the hazardous materials regulations to determine the
product’s:
• Proper shipping name.
• Hazard class.
• Identification number.
• Packing group.
• Correct packaging.
• Correct label and markings.
• Correct placards.
• Must package, mark, and label the materials; prepare shipping
papers; provide emergency response information; and supply
placards.
• 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.
• Reports accidents and incidents involving hazardous materials
to the proper government agency.
9-4
The Driver
• Makes sure the shipper has identified, marked, and labeled
the hazardous materials properly.
• Refuses leaking packages and shipments.
• Placards 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.
9.3 – Communication Rules
Definitions
Some words and phrases have special meanings when talking
about hazardous materials. Some of 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 9.
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 9.1.
9-5
Hazardous Material Class
Class Division Name of class or division
Examples
1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
Mass explosives
Projection hazards
Mass fire hazards
Very insensitive
Extreme insensitive
Dynamite
Flares
Display fireworks
Ammunition
Blasting agents
Explosive devices
2
2.1
2.2
2.3
Flammable gases
Propane
Non-flammable gases Helium
Poisonous/Toxic
Gases
Fluorine, compressed
3
-
Flammable liquids
Gasoline
4
4.1
4.2
Ammonium picrate,
Wetted
White phosphorus
Sodium
Ammonium nitrate
Methyl ethyl ketone
Peroxide
4.3
Flammable solids
Spontaneously
combustible
Dangerous when wet
5
5.1
5.2
Oxidizers
Organic peroxides
6
6.1
6.2
Poison (toxic
Potassium cyanide
material)
Infectious substances Anthrax virus
7
-
Radioactive
Uranium
8
-
Corrosives
Battery fluid
9
-
Miscellaneous
hazardous materials
Polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCB)
e
-
ORM-D (Other
Regulated MaterialDomestic)
Food flavorings,
medicines
-
Combustible liquids
Fuel oil
Figure 9.1
A shipping paper describes the hazardous materials being
transported. Shipping orders, bills of lading, and manifests are all
shipping papers. Figure 9.6 shows an example shipping paper.
9-6
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:
• Shippers to describe hazardous materials correctly and
include an emergency response telephone number on
shipping papers.
• 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.
• Drivers to keep hazardous materials shipping papers:
-- In a pouch on the driver’s door, or
-- 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.
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 9.2.
Figure 9.2 Examples of HAZMAT labels
9-7
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
9.3. Placards must be readable from all four directions. They are at
least 10 3/4 inches square, square-on-point, 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.
Figure 9.3 Examples of HAZMAT placards
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
assigned to them.
9-8
There are three main lists used by shippers, carriers, and drivers
when trying to identify hazardous materials. Before transporting a
material, look for its name on three lists. Some materials are on all
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 9.4 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.
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.
(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.
(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.
9-9
49 CFR 172.101 Hazardous Materials Table
Packaging *173.***)
Symbols
Hazardous
materials
descriptions
and proper
shipping
names
Hazard
class or
division
Identification
numbers
PG
Label
codes
Special
provisions
(172.102)
Exceptions
Non
bulk
Bulk
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8A)
(8B)
(8C)
A
Acetaldehyde
ammonia
9
UN1841
III
9
IB8, IP6
155
204
240
Figure 9.4
Appendix A to 49 CFR 172
List of hazardous substances and reportable quantities
Hazardous substances
Reportable quantity (RQ) pounds
(Kilograms)
Phenyl mercaptan @
100 (45.4)
Phenylmercuric acetate
100 (45.4)
N-Phenylthiourea
100 (45.4)
Phorate
10 (4.54)
Phosgene
10 (4.54)
Phosphine
10 (4.54) *
Phosphoric acid
5,000 (2,270)
Phosphoric acid, diethyl,
4-nitrophenyl ester
100 (45.4)
Phosphoric acid, lead salt
10 (.454)
* Spills of 10 pounds or more must be reported.
Figure 9.5
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.
9-10
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.
9-11
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 9.5. 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.
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”.
9-12
Shipping Paper
Page
1 of 1
TO:
ABC
Corporation
88 Valley St.
Anywhere
VA
FROM: DEF
Corporation
55 Mountain
St.
Nowhere CO
Quantity
HM
Description
Weight
1 cylinder
RQ
(“RQ” means
that this is a
reportable
quantity.)
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 the 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
Corporation
Carrier:
Per:
Smith
Per:
Date:
October 15,
2003
Date:
Safety First
Special Instructions: 24 hour Emergency Contact, John Smith
1-800-555-5555
Figure 9.6
9-13
The Shipping Paper
The shipping paper shown in Figure 9.6 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 regulations.
The Item Description
If a shipping paper describes both hazardous and nonhazardous products, the hazardous materials will be either:
• Described first.
• Highlighted in a contrasting color.
• 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.
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”.
Shipping name, hazard class, and identification number must
not be abbreviated unless specifically authorized in the hazardous
materials regulations. The description must also show:
• The total quantity and unit of measure.
• The letters RQ, if a reportable quantity.
• 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.
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
9-14
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 rules.
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 package 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:
9-15
• 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? Chemical
supply? Scientific supply house? Pest control or agricultural
supplier? Explosives, munitions, or fireworks dealer?
• Are there tanks with diamond labels or placards on the
premises?
• What type of package is being shipped? Cylinders and drums
are often used for hazardous materials shipments.
• 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
9-16
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.
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.
• Be affixed to a background of contrasting color.
• The use of “Drive Safely” and other slogans is prohibited.
• The front placard may be on the front of the tractor or the front
of the trailer.
To decide which placards to use, you need to know:
• The hazard class of the materials.
• 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 9.7.
Except for bulk packagings, 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
9.8.
9-17
Placard Table 1
Any amount
If your vehicle contains any amount of…
Placard as…
1.1 Mass explosives
Explosives 1.1
1.2 Project hazards
Explosives 1.2
1.3 Mass fire hazards
Explosives 1.3
2.3 Poisonous/Toxic gases
Poison gas
4.3 Dangerous when wet
Dangerous when wet
5.2 (Organic peroxide, Type B, liquid or
solid, Temperature controlled)
Organic peroxide
6.1 (Inhalation hazard zone A & B only)
Poison/toxic
inhalation
7 (Radioactive yellow III label only)
Radioactive
Figure 9.7
You may use DANGEROUS placards instead of separate
placards for each Table 2 hazard class when:
• You have 1,001 pounds or more of two or more Table 2 hazard
classes, requiring different placards, and
• You have not loaded 2,205 pounds or more of any Table 2
hazard class material at any one place. (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.
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
1,000-pound exception to placarding does not apply to these
materials.
9-18
Placard Table 2
1,001 Pounds Or More
Category of material (Hazard class Placard Name
or division number and additional
description, as appropriate)
1.4 Very insensitive
Explosives 1.4
1.5 Extreme insensitive
Explosives 1.5
1.6
Explosives 1.6
2.1 Flammable gases
Flammable gas
2.2 Non-flammable gases
Non-flammable gas
3 Flammable liquids
Flammable
Combustible liquid
Combustible*
4.1 Flammable solid
Flammable solid
4.2 Spontaneously combustible
Spontaneously combustible
5.1 Oxidizers
Oxidizer
5.2 (other than organic peroxide,
Organic peroxide
Type B, liquid or solid, temperature
controlled)
6.1 (other than inhalation hazard
zone A or B)
Poison
6.2 Infectious substances
(None)
8 Corrosives
Corrosive
9 Miscellaneous hazardous
materials
Class 9**
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 9.8
9-19
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.
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, reread subsections 9.1, 9.2, and 9.3.
9.4 – 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.
9-20
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 hazardous materials 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:
• Class 1 (Explosives)
• Class 2.1 (Flammable Gas )
• Class 3 (Flammable Liquids)
• Class 4 (Flammable Solids)
• Class 5 (Oxidizers)
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:
• Class 1 (Explosives)
• Class 2.1 (Flammable Gas )
• 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, don’t load the above products in a cargo space that
has a heater.
9-21
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 (Class A or B
Explosives). 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:
• There is a marked or placarded cargo tank in the combination.
• The other vehicle in the combination contains:
-- Division 1.1 A (Initiating Explosives).
-- Packages of Class 7 (Radioactive) materials labeled “Yellow
III.”
-- Division 2.3 (Poisonous Gas) or Division 6.1 (Poisonous)
materials.
-- Hazardous materials in a portable tank, on a DOT Spec
106A or 110A tank.
9-22
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)
• Division 2.3, Zone B (Poisonous Gases)
Never load corrosive liquids with:
• Division 1.1 or 1.2
• Division 1.2 or 1.3
• 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)
9-23
Class 2 (Compressed Gases) including cryogenic liquids. If
your vehicle doesn’t have racks to hold cylinders, the cargo space
floor must be flat. The cylinders must be:
• Held upright.
• 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.
9-24
Do Not Load Table
Do not load
In the same vehicle with
Division 6.1 or 2.3 (POISON
or poison inhalation hazard
labeled material).
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 2.3 (Poisonous) gas
Zone A or Division 6.1 (Poison)
liquids, PGI, Zone A.
Division 5.1 (Oxidizers), Class
3 (Flammable Liquids), Class 8
(Corrosive Liquids), Division 5.2
(Organic Peroxides),
Division 1.1, 1.2, 1.3
Explosives,
Division 1.5 (Blasting Agents),
Division 2.1 (Flammable
Gases), Class 4 (Flammable
Solids).
Charged storage batteries.
Division 1.1
Class 1 (Detonating primers).
Any other explosives unless
in authorized containers or
packages.
Division 6.1 (Cyanides or
cyanide mixtures).
Acids, corrosive materials, or
other acidic materials which
could release hydrocyanic acid.
For example:
Cyanides, Inorganic, n.o.s.
Silver cyanide
Sodium cyanide
Nitric acid (Class 8).
Other materials unless the nitric
acid is not loaded above any
other material.
Figure 9.9
Mixed loads. The rules require some products to be loaded
separately. You cannot load them together in the same cargo space.
Figure 9.9 lists some examples. The regulations (the Segregation
Table for Hazardous Materials) name other materials you must keep
apart.
9-25
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, reread subsection 9.4.
9.5 – 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
9-26
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.
• 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 to move the cargo tank and able to do so.
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.
9-27
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, reread subsection 9.5.
9.6 – 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.
9-28
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.
• Know what to do in emergencies.
• 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:
• Tank used for Class 3 (Flammable Liquids) or Division 2.1
(Flammable Gas) whether loaded or empty.
• Vehicle loaded with Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 Explosives.
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.
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.
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.
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
9-29
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.
No Smoking
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)
• Class 4 (Flammable Solids)
Refuel with Engine Off
Turn off your engine before fueling a motor vehicle containing
hazardous materials. Someone must always be at the nozzle,
controlling fuel flow.
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
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.
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.
9-30
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 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:
• Shipping papers.
• Written emergency instructions.
• Written route plan.
• A copy of FMCSR, Part 397.
Equipment for Chlorine
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.
9-31
Stop Before Railroad Crossings
Stop before a railroad crossing if your vehicle:
• 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.
9.7 – 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.
Follow this checklist:
• Check to see that your driving partner is OK.
• Keep shipping papers with you.
• Keep people far away and upwind.
• Warn others of the danger.
• Call for help.
• Follow your employer’s instructions.
Fires
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
9-32
fight hazardous materials fires. Dealing with hazardous materials
fires requires special training and protective gear.
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 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.
9-33
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.
9-34
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
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.
9-35
Required Notification
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 listed below. You or
your employer must phone when any of the following occur as a
direct result of a hazardous materials incident:
• 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.
• 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.
9-36
CHEMTREC
(800) 424-9300
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.
Radioactive Separation
Table A
Minimum distance in feet to
nearest undeveloped film
Total
0-2 2-4 4-8 8-12 Over
To people or cargo
transport Hrs. Hrs. Hrs. Hrs. 12 Hrs. compartment
index
partitions
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
4
6
9
11
15
3
10.1 to
20.0
5
8
12
16
22
4
20.1 to
30.0
7
10
15
20
29
5
30.1 to
40.0
8
11
17
22
33
6
40.1 to
50.0
9
12
19
24
36
Figure 9.10
Do not leave radioactive yellow - II or yellow - III labeled
packages near people, animals, or film longer than shown in Figure
9.10.
9-37
Classes of Hazardous Materials
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 9.12.
Hazard Class Definitions
Table B
Class
Class name
Example
1
Explosives
Ammunition, Dynamite, Fireworks
2
Gases
Propane, Oxygen, Helium
3
Flammable
Gasoline Fuel, Acetone
4
Flammable solids
Matches, Fuses
5
Oxidizers
Ammonium Nitrate, Hydrogen
peroxide
6
Poisons
Pesticides, Arsenic
7
Radioactive
Uranium, Plutonium
8
Corrosives
Hydrochloric acid, Battery acid
9
Miscellaneous
Formaldehyde, Asbestos
hazardous materials
None
ORM-D (Other
Regulated MaterialDomestic)
Hair spray or charcoal
None
Combustible liquids
Fuel oils, Lighter fluid
Figure 9.11
9-38
Test your knowledge
1. If your placarded trailer has dual tires, how often should you
check the tires?
2. What is a safe haven?
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, reread subsections 9.6 and 9.7.
9.8 – Hazardous Materials Glossary
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 upto-date copy of these rules for your reference.
(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:
1. A maximum capacity greater than 450 L (119 gallons) as a
receptacle for a liquid;
2. 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
3. A water capacity greater than 454 kg (1000 pounds) as a
receptacle for a gas as defined in Sec. 173.115.
9-39
Cargo tank - A bulk packaging which:
1. 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);
2. Is permanently attached to or forms a part of a motor 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
3. 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:
1. Land or water as a common, contract, or private carrier, or
2. 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 the packaging
plus the weight of its contents.
9-40
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:
1. Is listed in Appendix A to Sec. 172.101;
2. Is in a quantity, in one package, which equals or exceeds the
reportable quantity (RQ) listed in Appendix A to Sec. 172.101;
and
3. When in a mixture or solution (i)For radionuclides, conforms to paragraph 7 of Appendix A
to Sec. 172.101.
(ii)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 9.12.
Hazardous Substance Concentrations
Concentration by Weight
RQ Pounds (Kilograms
Percent
PPM
5,000 (2,270)
10
100,000
1,000 (454)
2
20,000
100 (45.4)
.2
2,000
10 (4.54)
.02
200
1 (0.454)
.002
20
Figure 9.12
This definition does not apply to petroleum products that are
lubricants or fuels (see 40 CFR 300.6).
9-41
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, required 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:
1. A maximum capacity of 450 L (119 gallons) as a receptacle
for a liquid;
2. 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
3. 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
9-42
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.
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.
RSPA – Now PHMSA – The Pipline 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 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.
9-43
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.
9.9 – Hazardous Materials Endorsement
Requirements
Federal regulations require all hazardous materials endorsement
(HME) holders and applicants wishing to obtain an HME to undergo
a background and fingerprint check before the endorsement can
be issued. No driver may transport hazardous materials unless
they have successfully passed these federal checks. It is expected
that clearance will take approximately 30 to 90 days to complete
from time of application for clearance until the endorsement can be
issued. To allow enough time, it is recommended that commercial
drivers renewing their HME begin the clearance process 90 days
prior to the expiration of their driver license. Drivers may begin
the clearance process without first visiting a driver licensing office
as long as they have a valid Commercial Driver License (CDL) or
Commercial Driver Instruction Permit (CDIP).
Commercial drivers requesting a new HME are required to have
a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) clearance before
the endorsement can be issued. This requirement also applies to
all CDL HME holders who are renewing their Washington license or
who are transferring their CDL from another state.
Drivers wishing to retain or upgrade to a HME will begin the
process by submitting an application either online or by telephone.
A CDL or CDIP must be presented at the fingerprinting location.
There is a federal processing fee of approximately $90, which
requires payment by either credit card or money order. This fee is
in addition to knowledge testing and licensing fees collected by the
Department of Licensing at the time of license issuance or renewal.
9-44
What You Need To Do
• Become eligible. Obtain a valid commercial driver license
CDL or CDIP.
• Apply with TSA to begin the background records check.
Complete the TSA HME application by doing the following:
-- Go online to www.hazprints.tsa.dhs.gov or
-- Call 1-877-429-7746, and
-- Pay $89.25 application fee by credit card or money order
payable to Integrated Biometric Technology when getting
fingerprinted.
If renewing a CDL with an HME, you must have a TSA hazmat
clearance completed prior to the expiration of your driver
license. If you complete the federal hazmat clearance process
more than 180 days prior to your license expiration, DOL will
not accept the clearance and you will be required to have a
second hazmat clearance completed. It is recommended that
you begin the TSA clearance process between 45 and 180
days prior to license expiration.
• Be fingerprinted. Complete the fingerprint process at any
TSA fingerprint location. Locations are available online at
www.hazprints.com or by calling 1-877-429-7746.
• Wait. The TSA threat assessment process may take up to 30
calendar days to complete. The results of your assessment will
be mailed to your resident address.
• Visit DOL. After receiving HME eligibility notification from
TSA, bring it to a driver licensing office to:
-- Complete the CDL application and testing process,
-- Pay any required test and licensing fees, and
-- Obtain your CDL with HME.
9-45
TSA Qualification Requirements for HME
• ID Requirements. A valid CDL or CDIP plus one additional
primary or one secondary form of ID from the list below must
be shown at the fingerprint location:
Primary
-- Valid U.S. Passport
-- Certificate of Naturalization (INS Form N-550 or N-570)
-- Valid foreign passport with I-551 stamp or attached INS
Form I-94 indicating a valid employment authorization
-- Driver license or ID card issued by a state provided it
contains a photograph or information such as name, date of
birth, gender, height, eye color, and address
-- U.S. Military/Retire ID Card
-- Military dependent’s ID Card
-- ID card issued by federal, state or local government, with
a photograph or data such as name, date of birth, gender,
height, eye color, and address
-- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (INS Form N-560 or N-561)
-- Permanent Resident Card or Alien Registration Receipt
Card with photograph (INS Form I-151 or I-551)
Secondary
-- Voter’s registration card
-- U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
-- U.S. Social Security card issued by the Social Security
Administration (other than a card stating it is not valid for
employment
-- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a
state, country, municipal authority, or outlying possession of
the United States bearing an official seal
-- U.S. Citizen ID Card (INS Form I-197)
-- Certificate of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of
State (Form FS-545 or DS-1350)
-- Native American tribal document
-- U.S. Military Discharge papers DD 214
-- Civil marriage certificate
-- U.S. adoption papers
-- D.O.T. medical card
9-46
• Citizenship or immigration status requirements. Applicants
for issuance or renewal of a HME must meet one of the
following:
-- Be a U.S. citizen who has not renounced citizenship.
-- Be a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., as defined in
section 101(a)(20) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8
U.S.C. 11/01).
-- Meet the requirements for immigration status.
Examples of acceptable citizenship or immigration status
documents include:
-- U.S. Passport.
-- Certificate of birth that bears an official seal and was
issued by a state, county, municipal authority, or outlying
possession of the U.S.
-- Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the U.S. Department
of State (Form FS-545 or DS 1350).
-- Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570).
-- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561).
-- Permanent Resident Card, Alien Registration Receipt Card
(Form I-551).
-- Temporary I-551 stamp on foreign passport.
-- Temporary I-551 stamp on Form I-94, Arrival/Departure
Record with photograph of the bearer.
-- Reentry Permit (Form I-327).
9-47
• Disclosure and certification of the following is also
required:
-- The applicant has not been convicted or found guilty by
reason of insanity of any of the interim disqualifying crimes
(see below) in any jurisdiction, civilian or military, during the
seven years before the date of application.
-- The applicant has not been released from incarceration
in any jurisdiction, civilian or military, for committing any
interim disqualifying crime during the 5 years before the
date of application.
-- The applicant has not been convicted or found not guilty by
reason of insanity of any permanently disqualifying crime.
-- The applicant is not wanted or under indictment in any
jurisdiction, civilian or military, for a disqualifying crime.
-- The applicant has not been adjudicated as a mental
defective or committed to a mental institution involuntarily.
-- The applicant is either a United States citizen who has
not renounced United States citizenship, or a lawful
permanent resident of the United States, or meets eligibility
requirements for immigration status.
-- Disclosure of the applicant’s military service and date of
discharge.
Permanently disqualifying criminal offenses
An applicant has a permanent disqualifying offense if
convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity in a civilian
or military jurisdiction of any of the following felonies:
-- Espionage
-- Sedition
-- Treason
-- A crime listed in 18 U.S.C. Chapter 113B - Terrorism, or a
State law that is comparable
-- A crime involving a transportation security incident
-- Improper transportation of a hazardous material under 49
U.S.C. 5124 or a State law that is comparable
-- Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, manufacture,
purchase, receipt, transfer, shipping, transporting, import,
export, storage of, or dealing in an explosive or explosive
device
-- Murder
-- Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961, et seq., or a State law
that is comparable, where one of the predicate acts found
9-48
by a jury or admitted by the defendant, consists of one of
the offenses listed in 4 or 8 of this section
-- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of the crimes listed
above
Interim disqualifying criminal offenses
An applicant has an interim disqualifying offense if convicted
or found not guilty by reason of insanity in a civilian or military
jurisdiction, of any of the crimes below within the 7 years
preceding the date of application; or if the applicant was
released from incarceration for the crime within the 5 years
preceding the application date:
-- Assault with intent to murder
-- Kidnapping or hostage taking
-- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
-- Unlawful possession, use, sale, manufacture, purchase,
distribution, receipt transfer, shipping, transporting, delivery,
import, export of, or dealing in a firearm or other weapon
-- Extortion
-- Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity
fraud
-- Bribery
-- Smuggling
-- Immigration violations
-- Violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. 1961, et seq., or a violation of
a comparable state law
-- Robbery
-- Distribution of, possession with intent to distribute, or
importation of a controlled substance
-- Arson
-- Conspiracy or attempt to commit the crimes in this section
If you are under want or warrant
Applicants under want or indictment in any civilian or military
jurisdiction for any permanent or interim disqualifying felony
listed above are disqualified until the want or warrant is
released.
9-49
Contact Information
• To obtain current fingerprint locations go online to www.
hazprints.com or call 1-877-429-7746.
• To complete TSA application and make
TSA payment online go to www.hazprints.com.
• To complete TSA application, make TSA payment, and inquire
about background check status call 1-877-429-7746
• For TSA threat assessment process and links online go to
www.dol.wa.gov/ds/cdl.htm.
9-50
School Buses
This section covers:
• 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
If you will drive any size of school bus, study this section.
You also need to study:
• Section 1, Introduction.
• Section 2, Driving Safely.
• Section 3, Transporting Cargo Safely.
• Section 4, Transporting Passengers.
• Section 5, Air Brakes, if the bus will have air brakes.
Your school bus test will have questions from each of these
sections.
Washington State requires all school bus drivers to have a
commercial driver license regardless of the size of passenger
vehicle being operated.
School bus drivers must have a school bus endorsement in
addition to a passenger endorsement on their commercial driver
license (CDL). To get the school bus endorsement, you must pass
both a knowledge test and a skills test required for the class of
school bus you drive or intend to drive.
10-1
This section does not provide information on all the federal and
state requirements needed before you drive a school bus. You
should be familiar with all specific school bus procedures, laws and
regulations for your local school district.
10.1 – 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 with the first 10 feet being the most
dangerous, 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 10.1 illustrates these danger zones.
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, have the
mirrors adjusted.
10-2
10 feet most dangerous
10 feet
Walking area
10 feet
Danger zones
SCHOOL BUS
Danger
from
passing
cars
10 feet most dangerous
Figure 10.1
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 extends 50 to 150 feet and could extend
up to 400 feet depending on the length and 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.
• The rear tires touching the ground.
Figure 10.2 shows how both the outside left and right side flat
mirrors should be adjusted.
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Left and right side
Flat mirrors
SCHOOL BUS
200 feet
200 feet
Blind spot
can be 50´-150´
Figure 10.2
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.
You should position these mirrors to see:
• The entire side of the bus up to the mirror mounts.
• Front of the rear tires touching the ground.
• At least one traffic lane on either side of the bus.
Figure 10.3 shows how both the outside left and right side
convex mirrors should be adjusted.
10-4
Left and right side
Convex mirrors
12 feet
SCHOOL BUS
32 feet
32 feet
12 feet
Figure 10.3
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 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.
Ensure that the mirrors are properly adjusted so you can see:
• 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.
• The right and left front tires touching the ground.
• The area from the front of the bus to the service door.
• 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.
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Figure 10.4 illustrates how the left and right side crossover
mirrors should be adjusted.
Left and right side
Crossover mirrors
Crossover mirror
Crossover mirror
SCHOOL BUS
SCHOOL BUS
Figure 10.4
Inside Rearview - Student Mirror
This mirror is mounted directly above the windshield 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.
10.2 – 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
10-6
in injuries and fatalities during and after loading and unloading
students.
The information in this section is intended to provide a broad
overview, but is not a definitive set of actions. It is imperative that
you learn and obey the state laws and regulations governing
loading/unloading operations in Washington State.
Approaching the Stop
Each school district establishes official routes and official school
bus stops. All stops should be approved by the school district prior
to making the stop. You should never change the location of a bus
stop without written approval from the appropriate school district
official.
You must use extreme caution when approaching a school bus
stop. You are in a very demanding situation when entering these
areas. It is critical that you understand and follow all state and local
laws and regulations regarding approaching a school bus stop. This
would involve the proper use of mirrors, alternating flashing lights,
and when equipped, the moveable stop signal arm and crossing
control arm.
When approaching the stop, you should:
• Approach cautiously at a slow rate of speed.
• Look for pedestrians, traffic, or other objects before, during,
and after coming to a stop.
• Continuously check all mirrors.
• If the school bus is so equipped, activate alternating flashing
amber warning lights at least 100-200 feet before the school
bus stop, or in accordance with district policy.
• Turn on right turn signal indicator about 100-300 feet or
approximately 3-5 seconds before pulling over.
• Continuously check mirrors to monitor the danger zones for
students, traffic, and other objects.
• Move as far as possible to the right on the traveled portion of
the roadway.
• Bring school bus to a full stop with the front bumper at least 10
feet away from students at the designated stop. This forces the
students to walk to the bus so you have a better view of their
movements.
• Place transmission in neutral or park and apply the foot brake.
• Activate alternating red flashers and student control devices
by the override control switch on the instrument panel when
traffic is a safe distance from the school bus.
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• Make a final check to see that all traffic has stopped before
completely opening the door and signaling students to
approach.
Loading Procedures
• Perform a safe stop as described in subsection 10.2,
Approaching the Stop.
• Students should wait in a designated location for the school
bus, facing the bus as it approaches.
• Students should board the bus only when signaled by the driver.
• Monitor all mirrors continuously.
• Count the number of students at the bus stop and be sure all
board the bus. If possible, know names of students at each
stop. If there is a student missing, ask the other students
where the student is.
• Have the students board the school bus slowly, in single file,
and use the handrail. The dome light should be on while
loading in the dark.
• Wait until students are seated and facing forward before
moving the bus.
• 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, prepare to leave by:
-- Closing the door.
-- Engaging the transmission.
-- Releasing the parking brake.
-- Turning off alternating flashing red lights.
-- Turning on left turn signal.
-- Checking all mirrors again.
-- Allowing congested traffic to disperse.
• When it is safe, move the bus to enter traffic flow and continue
the route.
The loading procedure is essentially the same wherever you
load students, but there are slight differences. When students are
loading at the school campus, you should:
• Turn off the ignition switch.
• Remove key if leaving driver’s compartment.
• Position yourself to supervise loading as required or
recommended by your state or local regulations.
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Unloading Procedures on the Route
• Perform a safe stop at designated unloading areas as
described in subsection 10.2, Approaching the Stop.
• Have the students remain seated until told to exit.
• Check all mirrors continuously.
• Count the number of students while unloading to confirm the
location of all students before pulling away from the stop.
• Tell students to exit the bus and walk at least 10 feet away
from the side of the bus to a position where the driver can
plainly see all students.
• 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, and check around and underneath the bus.
• When all students are accounted for, prepare to leave by:
-- Closing the door.
-- Engaging transmission.
-- Releasing parking brake.
-- Turning off alternating flashing red lights.
-- Turning on left turn signal.
-- Checking all mirrors again.
-- Allowing congested traffic to disperse.
• When it is safe, move the bus, enter the traffic flow and
continue the route.
Note. If you have missed a student’s unloading stop, do not
back up. Be sure to follow local procedures.
Additional procedures for students that must cross the
roadway. You should understand what students should do when
exiting a school bus and crossing the street in front of the bus. In
addition, the school bus driver should understand that students
might not always do what they are supposed to do. If a student
or students must cross the roadway, they should follow these
procedures:
• Walk approximately 10 feet away from the side of the school
bus to a position where you can see them.
• Walk to a location at least 10 feet in front of the right corner
of the bumper, but still remaining away from the front of the
school bus.
• Stop at the right edge of the roadway. You should be able to
see the student’s feet.
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When students reach the edge of the roadway, they should:
• Stop and look in all directions, making sure the roadway is
clear and is safe.
• Check to see if the red flashing lights on the bus are still
flashing.
• Wait for your signal before crossing the roadway.
Upon your signal, the students should:
• Cross far enough in front of the school bus to be in your view.
• Stop at the left edge of the school bus, stop, and look again
for your signal to continue to cross the roadway.
• Look for traffic in both directions, making sure roadway is
clear.
• Proceed across the roadway, continuing to look in all
directions.
Note: The school bus driver should enforce any state or local
regulations or recommendations concerning student actions
outside the school bus.
Unloading Procedures at School
State and 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. The
following procedures are meant to be general guidelines.
When unloading at the school you should follow these
procedures:
• Perform a safe stop at designated unloading areas as
described in subsection 10.2, Approaching the Stop.
• Secure the bus by:
-- Turning off the ignition switch.
-- Removing key if leaving driver’s compartment.
• Have the students remain seated until told to exit.
• Position yourself to supervise unloading as required or
recommended by your state or local regulations.
• Have students exit in orderly fashion.
• Observe students as they step from 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.
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• Check all mirrors. Make certain no students are returning to
the bus.
• 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.
-- Fastening safety belt.
-- Starting engine.
-- Engaging the transmission.
-- Releasing the parking brake.
-- Turning off alternating flashing red lights.
-- Turning on left turn signal.
-- Checking all mirrors again.
-- Allowing congested traffic to disperse.
• When it is safe, pull away from the unloading area.
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.
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.
Post-trip Inspection
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.
• Open windows and doors.
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• 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.
• Damage or vandalism.
Any problems or special situations should be reported
immediately to your supervisor or school authorities.
10.3 – Emergency Exit and Evacuation
An emergency situation can happen to anyone, anytime,
anywhere. It could be a crash, a stalled school bus on a railroadhighway 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
Determine need to evacuate bus. 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?
• Would removing students expose them to speeding traffic,
severe weather, or a dangerous environment such as downed
power lines?
• Would moving students complicate injuries such as neck and
back injuries and fractures?
• Is there a hazardous spill involved? Sometimes, it may be
safer to remain on the bus and not come in contact with the
material.
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Mandatory evacuations. The driver must evacuate the bus
when:
• The bus is on fire or there is a threat of a fire.
• The bus is stalled on, or adjacent to, a railroad-highway
crossing.
• The position of the bus may change and increase the danger.
• There is an imminent danger of collision.
• There is a need to quickly evacuate because of a hazardous
materials spill.
Evacuation Procedures
Be prepared and plan ahead. When possible, assign two
responsible, older student assistants to each emergency exit.
Teach them how to assist the other students off the bus. Assign
another student assistant to lead the students to a “safe place” after
evacuation. However, you must recognize that there may not be
older, responsible students on the bus at the time of the emergency.
Therefore, emergency evacuation procedures must be explained
to all students. This includes knowing how to operate the various
emergency exits and the importance of listening to and following all
instructions given by you.
Some tips to determine a safe place:
• A safe place will be at least 100 feet off the road in the
direction of oncoming traffic. This will keep the students from
being hit by debris if another vehicle collides with the bus.
• Lead students upwind of the bus if fire is present.
• Lead students as far away from railroad tracks as possible and
in the direction of any oncoming train.
• Lead students upwind of the bus at least 300 feet if there is a
risk from spilled hazardous materials.
• 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. Determine if evacuation is in the best
interest of safety.
• Determine the best type of evacuation:
-- Front, rear or side door evacuation, or some combination of
doors.
-- Roof or window evacuation.
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• Secure the bus by:
-- Placing transmission in Park, or if there is no shift point, in
Neutral.
-- Setting parking brakes.
-- Shutting off the engine.
-- Removing ignition key.
-- Activating hazard-warning lights.
• If time allows, notify dispatch office of evacuation location,
conditions, and type of assistance needed.
• Dangle radio microphone or telephone out of driver’s window
for later use, if operable.
• If no radio, or radio is inoperable, dispatch a passing motorist
or area resident to call for help. As a last resort, dispatch two
older, responsible students to go for help.
• Order the evacuation.
• 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 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 waiting students. Account for all students and check for
their safety.
• Protect the scene. Set out emergency warning devices as
necessary and appropriate.
• Prepare information for emergency responders.
10.4 – Railroad-highway Crossings
Types of Crossings
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
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there is sufficient clear space to cross safely. Passive crossings
have yellow circular advance warning signs, pavement markings
and crossbucks to assist you in recognizing a crossing.
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.
Warning Signs and Devices
Advance warning signs. The round, black-on-yellow warning
sign is placed ahead of a public railroad-highway crossing. The
advance warning sign tells you to slow down, look and listen for the
train, and be prepared to stop at the tracks if a train is coming. See
Figure 10.5.
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.
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 10.6.
Figure 10.5
Round yellow warning sign
Figure 10.6
Pavement markings
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 crossbuck sign.
When the road crosses over more than one set of tracks, a sign
below the crossbuck indicates the number of tracks. See Figure
10.7.
10-15
Flashing red light signals. At many highway-rail grade
crossings, the crossbuck sign has flashing red lights and bells.
When the lights begin to flash, stop! A train is approaching. You
are required to yield the right-of-way to the train. If there is more
than one track, make sure all tracks are clear before crossing. See
Figure 10.8.
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 10.8.
Recommended Procedures
Each state has laws and regulations governing how school
buses must operate at railroad-highway crossings. It is important
for you to understand and obey these state laws and regulations.
In general, school buses must stop at all crossings, and ensure it is
safe before proceeding across the tracks. The specific procedures
required in each state vary.
R
S
G
A
RO
IL
A
R
C
O
N
SI
D
3
TRACKS
Figure 10.7
Multiple tracks
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R
S
S
IN
G
AD
RO
IL
RA
C
O
3
TRACKS
Figure 10.8
Gates/Lights
A school bus is one of the safest vehicles on the highway.
However, a school bus does not have the slightest edge when
involved in a crash with a train. Because of a train’s size and weight
it cannot stop quickly. An emergency escape route does not exist for
a train. You can prevent school bus/train crashes by following these
recommended procedures.
Approaching the crossing:
• Slow down, including shifting to a lower gear in a manual
transmission bus, and test your brakes.
• Activate hazard lights approximately 200 feet before the
crossing. Make sure your intentions are known.
• Scan your surroundings and check for traffic behind you.
• Stay to the right of the roadway if possible.
• Choose an escape route in the event of a brake failure or
problems behind you.
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At the crossing:
• Stop no closer than 15 feet and no farther than 50 feet from
the nearest rail, where you have the best view of the tracks.
• Place the transmission in Park, or if there is no Park shift
point, in Neutral and press down on the service brake or set
the parking brakes.
• Turn off all radios and noisy equipment, and silence the
passengers.
• Open the service door and driver’s window. Look and listen for
an approaching train.
Crossing the track:
• Check the crossing signals again before proceeding.
• At a multiple-track crossing, stop only before the first set
of tracks. When you are sure no train is approaching on
any track, proceed across all of the tracks until you have
completely cleared them.
• Cross the tracks in a low gear. Do not change gears while
crossing.
• If the gate comes down after you have started across, drive
through it even if it means you will break the gate.
Special Situations
Bus stalls or trapped on tracks. If your bus stalls or is trapped
on the tracks, get everyone out 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 at the crossing. If a police officer is at the
crossing, obey directions. If there is no police officer, 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 won’t fit, don’t commit!
Know the length of your bus and the size of the containment area
10-18
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.
10.5 – Student Management
Don’t Deal with On-bus Problems When Loading and
Unloading
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. Don’t 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.
Handling Serious Problems
Tips on handling serious problems:
• Follow your school’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.
• Secure the bus. Take the ignition key with you if you leave your
seat.
• 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 behavior. Do not show anger, but do
show that you mean business.
• 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 or local procedures for requesting
assistance.
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10.6 – Antilock Braking Systems
Vehicles Required to Have Antilock Braking Systems
The Department of Transportation requires that antilock braking
systems be on:
• All air-braked buses built on or after March 1, 1998.
• Hydraulic-braked buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of
10,000 lbs or more built on or after March 1, 1999.
Many buses built before these dates have been voluntarily
equipped with ABS.
Your school bus will have a yellow ABS malfunction lamp on the
instrument panel if it is equipped with ABS.
How ABS Helps You
When you brake hard on slippery surfaces in a vehicle without
ABS, your wheels may lock up. When your steering wheels lock up,
you lose steering control. When your other wheels lock up, you may
skid or even spin the vehicle.
ABS helps you avoid wheel lock up and maintain control. You
may or may not be able to stop faster with ABS, but you should be
able to steer around an obstacle while braking, and avoid skids
caused by over braking.
Braking with ABS
When you drive a vehicle with ABS, you should brake as you
always have. In other words:
• Use only the braking force necessary to stop safely and stay
in control.
• Brake the same way, regardless of whether you have ABS
on the bus. However, in emergency braking, do not pump the
brakes on a bus with ABS.
• As you slow down, monitor your bus and back off the brakes
(if it is safe to do so) to stay in control.
Braking if ABS is Not Working
Without ABS, you still have normal brake functions. Drive and
brake as you always have.
Vehicles with ABS have yellow malfunction lamps to tell you if
something is not working. The yellow ABS malfunction lamp is on
the bus’s instrument panel.
As a system check on newer vehicles, the malfunction lamp
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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.
Remember, if your ABS malfunctions, you still have regular
brakes. Drive normally, but get the system serviced soon.
Safety Reminders
• ABS won’t allow you to drive faster, follow more closely, or
drive less carefully.
• ABS won’t prevent power or turning skids–ABS should prevent
brake-induced skids but not those caused by spinning the
drive wheels or going too fast in a turn.
• ABS won’t necessarily shorten stopping distance. ABS will
help maintain vehicle control, but not always shorten stopping
distance.
• ABS won’t increase or decrease ultimate stopping power–ABS
is an “add-on” to your normal brakes, not a replacement for
them.
• ABS won’t change the way you normally brake. Under normal
brake conditions, your vehicle will stop as it always stopped.
ABS only comes into play when a wheel would normally have
locked up because of over braking.
• ABS won’t compensate for bad brakes or poor brake
maintenance.
• Remember: The best vehicle safety feature is still a safe driver.
• Remember: Drive so you never need to use your ABS.
• Remember: If you need it, ABS could help to prevent a serious
crash.
10.7 – 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 you have 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 your state or local regulations concerning the use of these
lights.
10-21
Driving in High Winds
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 sideways. They 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.
• 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.
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.
10-22
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 your alternating flashing amber warning lights?
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. What position should students be in front of the bus before they
cross the roadway?
7. Under what conditions must you evacuate the bus?
8. How far from the nearest rail should you stop at a highway-rail
crossing?
9. What is a passive highway-rail 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 brakes (ABS)?
These questions may be on your test. If you can’t answer them
all, reread Section 10.
10-23
10-24
Pre-Trip Inspection
This section covers:
• The Pre-Trip Inspection Test
• What the tester will look for
• Checks for all vehicles
• Checks for combination vehicles
• Checks for all buses
• Checks for school buses
11.1 – The Pre-Trip Inspection Test
The Pre-Trip Inspection Test is used to evaluate your ability to
inspect important parts of your commercial vehicle. Items that you
must check during this test are described in this section.
When you are inspecting the outside of your vehicle, inspect the:
• Front
• One side
• Opposite side–if it has unique items, you must inspect them
• Rear
• Steering axle
• Last axle
All drivers should review Section 2 of this guide and all sections
that apply to the vehicle you will use for your testing.
You cannot take the skill tests and you will need to reschedule
your appointment if:
• Your vehicle has defective equipment–any equipment required
by law to be working that is not working.
• Your vehicle does not have proper emergency and safety
equipment required by law.
• Your vehicle is not licensed.
• You don’t have proof of current insurance.
• Your vehicle has inspection items that are marked or labeled.
11-1
• You don’t have a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate
(DOT physical card) in your possession.
No smoking is allowed within 25 feet of the skill test parking
area, in or outside of your vehicle. We may cancel your appointment
if you disregard this notice.
No weapons are allowed in the vehicle.
No passengers or animals will be allowed in the vehicle during
the test. This does not apply to drivers that require the use of
service animals.
No memory aids will be allowed during the test.
No portable audio or video recording devices will be allowed
during the test. This does not apply to school buses that are
equipped with an onboard camera to monitor students.
You must have a Skill Test Results form in your immediate
possession at the time of your scheduled appointment to take the
Pre-Trip Inspection Test. You can get this form at any driver licensing
office after you have successfully completed all required knowledge
testing.
If you disqualify during a Pre-Trip Inspection Test and have
passed the Road Test, you must wait until the next day before
you try again.
11.2 – What The Tester Will Look For
During the pre-trip inspection, you must show that the vehicle
is safe to drive. The tester will score your ability to identify and
inspect items on your vehicle. As you go through your pre-trip
inspection, you must point to or touch each item you are
inspecting and explain what you are checking and why. Some
inspection items may not be visible. You will not have to crawl under
the vehicle, but you may be asked the general vicinity of where
an inspection item would be located on your vehicle if it cannot be
seen. Study all of the vehicle inspection items that apply to the type
of vehicle you will use during your CDL skill test. You should be able
to identify each item and tell the tester what you are looking for or
inspecting.
As you inspect the outside of your vehicle, you must tell the
tester about any differences in other axles or inspection items. You
must also tell the tester if your vehicle has any unique items on the
side opposite the side you are inspecting. Walk around the entire
vehicle before you test, to see if you have any such items.
11-2
11.3 – Checks For All Vehicles
Make these checks in addition to all other inspections that apply
to your vehicle:
1. Lights and Reflectors
Check that all external lights and reflectors are clean and
working. This includes:
Front of the vehicle
• Headlights:
- High beam
- Low beam
• Turn Signals:
-- Left
-- Right
• 4-way flashers
Rear of the vehicle
• Turn Signals:
- Left
- Right
• Taillights
• 4-way flashers
• Brake lights
Clearance lights and reflectors
• Check that all reflectors work and are clean.
-- Clearance lights–red on the rear, amber elsewhere.
-- Reflectors/Reflective tape–red on the rear, amber
elsewhere.
Checks of the brake, turn signal, and 4-way flashers must be
done separately.
2. Air Supply System
If you don’t correctly perform all parts of the air-brake
checks, you will be automatically disqualified.
Though air brake safety devices vary, this procedure is designed
to see that all safety devices operate correctly as air pressure drops
from a normal to a low-air condition. For safety purposes, in areas
where an incline is present, you must use wheel chocks during
the air brake check. To correctly inspect the air brake system, follow
these steps:
11-3
Air leak check
1. Shut off the engine.
2. Chock your wheels (if necessary).
3. Place the transmission into neutral or park.
4. Release tractor protection valve and parking brake (push in).
5. Fully apply the foot brake and hold it for 1 minute.
6. Check the air gauge to see that the air pressure drops
no more than 3 psi in 1 minute in a single vehicle or
no more than 4 psi in 1 minute in a combination vehicle.
You must tell the tester what the air leakage rate is for the
type of vehicle you are operating, or you will be automatically
disqualified.
Low-air warning check
1. Ensure all brakes are still released (pushed in).
2. Turn the key to the “on” or “battery charge” position without
restarting the engine.
3. Begin fanning off the air pressure by pumping the foot brake.
4. Low-air warning devices (buzzer, light, flag) should activate
at 60 psi or above.
You must tell the tester that the low-air warning must activate at
60 psi or above, or you will be automatically disqualified.
Tractor protection valve or parking brake
1. Ensure all brakes are still released (pushed in).
2. Continue to fan off the air pressure.
3. When pressure drops to 20-45 psi on a combination vehicle,
the tractor protection valve should close (pop out). On single
vehicles, the parking brake valve should close (pop out) when
pressure drops to 20-45 psi.
You must tell the tester that the tractor protection valve
(combination vehicle) or parking brake valve (single vehicle)
must activate when pressure drops to 20-45 psi, or you will be
automatically disqualified.
11-4
3. Brake Checks
Trailer hand valve
• If equipped, check the trailer brakes by pulling forward and
applying the trailer hand valve only or engage the hand valve
and pull against the trailer brakes. Otherwise, set the trailer
parking brake and perform the same check.
Parking brake
• Apply the parking brake only and check that it will hold the
vehicle by shifting into a lower gear and gently pulling
against the brake.
Service brake
• Operate and check the service brake by pulling forward slowly
and applying the service brake.
Hydraulic brake check
• For vehicles with a hydraulic brake system, pump the brake
pedal three times, and then hold it down for 5 seconds. Tell
the tester that the brake pedal should not move (depress)
during the 5 seconds.
Federal and state laws require you to wear your vehicle seat
belt properly. Brake checks may require your vehicle to be put in
gear and moved, so you must wear your seat belt. If you are not
wearing the seat belt when your vehicle is put in motion at any time
during the test, you will be immediately disqualified.
Air-over hydraulic brakes
These systems are usually found on medium-sized commercial
vehicles. They combine features of air brake and hydraulic systems
by using air to boost the hydraulic brake pressure. An air-over
hydraulic system assists the service brakes, so a loss of air could
mean the loss of service brakes, but the parking brake will continue
to work.
An air-over hydraulic system and a standard air supply system
have many of the same parts, including:
• Warning buzzer
• Warning light
• Compressor
• Governor
• Wet and dry air tanks
• A foot valve (brake pedal)
11-5
These items are often where you would find them in a complete
air brake system. You will likely see an air chamber or cylinder
attached to the hydraulic master cylinder. This starts a push rod
from the air unit, producing hydraulic pressure through the lines to
the wheel cylinder, which operates the front and rear brakes. Some
systems may not have all of the parts you expect to see; to meet
the definition of air brakes, the system must have:
• Air pressure gauge(s)
• Low air-pressure warning device(s)
If your vehicle does not have these inspection items, it cannot be
used as an air brake vehicle for a skill test.
When testing on a vehicle that has air-over hydraulic brakes,
you must be able to properly inspect both the air brake and the
hydraulic system inspection items found on your vehicle. Because
there are different types of air-over hydraulic systems, you should
read your vehicle’s operation manual for more information.
4. In-Cab/Bus Inspections
Emergency and safety equipment
• Check for a properly charged and rated fire extinguisher.
-- The fire extinguisher must be properly stored and secured
for testing purposes.
• Check for spare electrical fuses.
-- If the vehicle does not have electrical fuses, you must
mention this to the tester.
• Locate where the red reflective triangles are stored.
• Check for three triangles.
Under federal and state law, vehicles in commercial operation
must meet all emergency and safety equipment requirements. If
the vehicle to be used for a test does not have all of the required
equipment, the test will be postponed until a later time. Make
sure the vehicle you will use for your test has all of the required
equipment before you arrive for your test.
Heater and defroster
• Check that the heater and defroster fan works.
Horn(s)
• Check that the air horn and/or electric horn(s) work.
11-6
Windshield
• The windshield should:
-- Be clean.
-- Have no illegal stickers or decals.
-- Have no obstructions.
-- Have no damage to the glass.
Wipers
• Check that wiper arms and blades:
-- Are secure.
-- Are not damaged.
-- Operate smoothly.
Clutch pedal
• Engage and release the pedal.
• Check that the pedal:
-- Has freedom of movement.
-- Does not bind or stick.
-- Does not make unusual noises.
Service brake pedal
• Apply and release the pedal.
• Check that the pedal:
- Has freedom of movement.
- Does not bind.
- Does not make unusual noises.
Accelerator pedal
• Apply and release the pedal.
• Check that the pedal:
-- Has freedom of movement.
-- Does not bind or stick.
Safety start
• Set the parking brake.
• Depress the clutch (if the vehicle is equipped with a manual
transmission).
• Place the gearshift lever in neutral (for automatic
transmissions, place the lever in park).
• Start the engine, then release the clutch slowly.
11-7
Steering wheel
• Non-power steering. Check for excessive play by turning the
steering wheel back and forth. Play should not be more than
10 degrees–about 2 inches on a 20-inch wheel.
• Power steering. With the engine running, check for excessive
play by turning the steering wheel back and forth. Play should
not exceed 10 degrees–about 2 inches on a 20-inch wheel–
before the front-left wheel begins to move.
• You must watch the front tire while making this check. If your
vehicle does not allow this–as in a coach or transit bus–a
verbal explanation of the check will be accepted.
Air supply gauge
• With the vehicle running, check that the air pressure gauge(s)
are working properly.
• Check that the vehicle has an adequate working air supply in
the tank reservoir(s).
• Build the air pressure to the governed cutout at 100-125 psi.
If your vehicle has a higher cutout range than 100-125 psi,
inform the tester.
-- Tell the tester when the air governor cutout activates.
Ammeter/Voltmeter
• Check that the gauges show the alternator and/or generator is
charging or that the warning light is off.
Oil pressure gauge
• Check that the oil pressure gauge is working.
• Check that the pressure gauge shows increasing or normal oil
pressure or that the warning light goes off.
5. Engine Compartment (Engine Off)
Oil level
• Identify where the dipstick is located.
• Check that the oil level is within a safe operating range. The
level must be above the refill mark. A verbal explanation is
acceptable.
Coolant level
• Check that the coolant level is within a safe operating range.
• Inspect the reservoir sight glass or tell the tester that you
would remove the radiator cap and check the coolant level.
11-8
Never attempt to remove a radiator cap on an engine that
has recently been running. A verbal explanation for the coolant
level is acceptable.
Power steering fluid
• Identify where the power-steering-fluid dipstick is located.
• Check that the power-steering fluid is at the proper level. The
level must be above the refill mark. A verbal explanation is
acceptable.
Air compressor
• Identify the location of the air compressor and check that the
unit is securely mounted.
• Check for any fluid or air leaks from the compressor.
• Check for missing nuts or bolts.
Leaks (engine compartment)
• Check for fluid leaks on the ground under the engine.
• Check for puddles of oil, coolant, or fuel.
Engine compartment belts
• Check the condition of the belts–they should not be:
-- Cracked.
-- Worn or frayed.
• Check the tension of the belts–they should not deflect more
than 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch from the center of the belt.
6. Front Axle
Tires
• Check for proper inflation by using a tire gauge or by striking
tires with a mallet or a similar device. You will not get credit if
you simply kick the tires to check for proper inflation.
• Check for cuts, bumps, abrasions, or other damage to the
tread or sidewalls.
• Check that valve stems are not missing, broken, or damaged.
• Check that the tread depth is at least 4/32 of an inch in all
major grooves on steering-axle tires.
• Check that tread is evenly worn.
Rims
• Check for dents or damage to the flange.
• Check that there are no visible cracks or welding repairs.
11-9
Lug nuts
• Check that all lug nuts are present and have no:
-- Cracks or distortions.
-- Signs of being loose – such as rust trails or shiny threads.
Hub oil seals/Axle seals
• Check that hub oil/grease seals and axle seals are not
leaking.
• If the wheel has a sight glass or removable seal, check the oil
level. If the hub/axle seal has a removable seal or beauty cap,
a verbal explanation will be acceptable.
Steering box
• Check that the steering box is securely mounted to the frame.
• Check for any missing nuts or bolts.
• Check for power-steering fluid leaks.
• Check that the steering box is not cracked.
Steering linkage
• Check that connecting links, arms, and rods from the steering
box to the wheel are not:
-- Worn.
-- Cracked.
• Check that joints and sockets are not:
-- Worn or loose.
-- Missing nuts, bolts, or cotter keys.
7. Front Suspension
Inspect all suspension parts for each axle–on both the power
unit and the trailer–whenever the suspension parts for an axle are
different from each other in any way.
Springs
• Check that leaf springs are not:
-- Missing.
-- Shifted.
-- Cracked or broken.
-- Check for broken or distorted coil springs.
Mounts/Hangers
• Check for cracked or broken spring hangers.
• Check for missing or damaged bushings.
• Check for other axle-mounting parts that are broken or loose.
11-10
You should check mounts at each point where they are secured
to the vehicle frame and axle.
U-Bolts
• Check that U-bolts are not loose or missing:
• Check that U-bolts are not damaged or cracked:
Shock absorbers
• Check that the shock absorbers:
-- Are secure.
-- Do not have any leaks.
Air bags
• Check that the air-ride suspension:
-- Has no damage.
-- Has no leaks.
-- Does not rub against other parts.
8. Driver, Fuel, and Under-Vehicle Areas
For inspection items located under the vehicle, you will not need
to crawl under the vehicle. A verbal explanation will be acceptable.
Doors
• Check that any doors:
-- Are not damaged.
-- Open and close securely.
You must demonstrate this to the tester.
Mirrors
• Check that all mirrors and mirror brackets are:
-- Securely mounted.
-- Properly adjusted.
-- Not damaged, and have no loose fittings.
• Check that the glass is clean.
Battery box
• Check that the battery box and its cover or door are secure.
Fuel tank
• Check that all tanks are secure.
• Check that all caps are tight.
• Check that there are no leaks from any tanks or crossover
lines.
11-11
Drive shaft
• Check that the drive shaft:
-- Is not bent or cracked.
-- Is securely mounted.
-- Couplings are free of foreign objects.
Exhaust system
• Check that the exhaust system is securely mounted and
tightly connected.
• Check the exhaust system for cracks, holes, and any signs of
exhaust leaks.
Frame–tractor or straight vehicle
• Check for cracks or bends in the frame.
• Check for loose or missing bolts.
• Check for cracks in the cross members.
9. Rear Axle
Tires
• Check for proper inflation by using a tire gauge or by striking
tires with a mallet or a similar device. You will not get credit if
you simply kick the tires to check for proper inflation.
• Check for cuts, bumps, abrasions, or other damage to the
tread or sidewalls.
• Check that valve stems are not missing, broken, or damaged.
• Check that the tread is evenly worn.
• Check that the tread depth is at least 2/32 of an inch in all
major grooves–this tread depth is different from what is
required for steering-axle tires.
• In-between duals:
-- Check that dual tires are not touching.
-- Check that dual tires have nothing lodged between them.
Rims
• Check for dents or damage to the flange.
• Check that there are no visible cracks or welding repairs.
Lug nuts
• Check that all lug nuts are present and have no:
-- Cracks or distortions.
-- Signs of being loose – such as rust trails or shiny threads.
11-12
Hub/Axle seal
• Check for axle seal leaks.
• If wheel has a sight glass or removable seal, check that the
oil level is at the proper level. If the axle seal has a removable
seal or beauty cap (hub/axle seal cover), a verbal explanation
will be acceptable.
Mud flaps
• Check that the mud flaps:
-- Are securely mounted.
-- Are not too worn or torn.
-- Hang down to at least the center of the axle.
10. Brakes
Brake linings
• Check that brake linings:
-- Are at least 1/4 of an inch.
-- Have no loose or missing parts.
-- Are not cracked or broken.
-- Show no signs of oil or grease on the linings.
Brake drum
• Check for cracks, grooves or holes.
• Check that there are no signs of oil or grease on the brake
drums.
If your vehicle has dust covers, explain this check to the tester.
Slack adjustors
• Check for broken, loose, or missing parts.
• For manual slack adjusters, the brake push rod should not
move more than 1 inch (with brakes released) when
pulled by hand.
Brake hoses/lines
• Check that hoses are not:
-- Leaking.
-- Cut or cracked.
-- Worn or frayed.
-- Rubbing against other parts.
If the brakes are hydraulic, look for leaks; if they are air-powered,
listen for leaks.
11-13
Brake chambers
• Check that the brake chambers:
-- Are securely mounted.
-- Have no cracks or dents.
-- Are not leaking.
11. Rear Suspension
Inspect all suspension parts for each axle–on both the power
unit and the trailer–whenever the suspension parts for an axle are
different from each other in any way.
Springs
• Check that leaf springs are not:
-- Missing.
-- Shifted.
-- Cracked or broken.
-- Check for broken or distorted coil springs.
Mounts/Hangers
• Check for cracked or broken spring hangers.
• Check for missing or damaged bushings.
• Check for other broken or loose axle-mounting parts.
You should check mounts at each point where they are secured
to the vehicle frame and axle.
U-Bolts
• Check that U-bolts are not loose or missing.
• Check that U-bolts are not damaged or cracked.
Shock absorbers
• Check that the shock absorbers:
-- Are secure.
-- Do not have any leaks.
Air bags
• Check that the air-ride suspension:
-- Has no damage.
-- Has no leaks.
-- Does not rub against other parts.
11-14
Torque arm (radius rod/torque spring)
• Check that torsion bars, torque arms, or other types of
suspension parts are:
- Not damaged.
- Securely mounted.
11.4 – Checks For Combination Vehicles
Make these checks in addition to all other inspections that apply
to your vehicle:
1. Service Area
Air lines
• Check that the air lines are securely connected.
• Check that the air lines are not:
-- Leaking.
-- Cut.
-- Cracked.
-- Spliced.
-- Taped.
-- Crimped.
-- Rubbing against other parts.
Electrical line
• Check that the electrical line is securely connected.
• Check that the electrical line:
-- Is not pinched.
-- Is not worn. Has no exposed wires.
-- Has no bare wires.
-- Has no broken wires.
-- Has no taped wires.
-- Is not rubbing on other components.
Steel braid should not show through anywhere along the line.
Deck plate/Catwalk
• Check that the deck plate/catwalk is:
-- Solid.
-- Clear of objects.
-- Securely mounted to the tractor frame.
Header board/Front-end structures
• Check that the header board or front-end structure:
-- Is mounted securely to the tractor or trailer.
-- Has no loose or missing bolts or mounting brackets.
11-15
2. Coupling Systems
Fifth Wheel Coupling System:
Gap
• Check that the trailer is lying flat–without a gap–on the fifth
wheel skid plate.
Mounting bolts
• Check for loose or missing mounting brackets, bolts, or nuts.
Release arm
• Check that the release arm:
-- Is in the engaged or locked position.
-- Safety latch is engaged.
Kingpin and locking jaws
• Look into fifth wheel gap and check that the locking jaws are
fully closed around the shank of the kingpin.
Sliding fifth wheel locking pins
• Check that the sliding fifth wheel has no loose or missing pins
in the slide mechanism. If it is air-powered, check for leaks.
• Check that locking pins are fully engaged.
• Check that the fifth wheel is positioned properly so that the
tractor frame will clear the landing gear during turns.
Pintle Hook Coupling System:
Pintle hook
• Check that the pintle hook is:
-- Secure.
-- Not cracked or broken.
-- Not excessively worn.
Sliding pintle
• Check that the sliding pintle:
-- Is secure.
-- Has no loose or missing nuts or bolts.
-- Cotter pins are in place.
Mounting bolts
• Check for loose or missing mounting brackets, bolts, or nuts.
11-16
Safety chains/cables
• Check that the safety chains or cables are:
-- Secure.
-- Free of any kinks or excessive slack.
Drawbar & Eye
• Check that the entire drawbar:
-- Is not bent or twisted.
-- Shows no signs of cracking.
• Check that the eye is not too worn or cracked.
Drawbar landing gear
• Check that the landing gear:
-- Is fully raised.
-- Has no missing parts.
-- Crank handle is secure.
-- Support frame has no structural damage.
On other types of coupling systems (i.e., ball hitch,
gooseneck, etc.)
• Check the locking mechanism:
-- Is secure.
-- Mounting brackets and bolts are not broken or missing.
-- Hitch release lever is in place and secure.
-- Safety chains/cables are secure and free of any kinks or
excessive slack.
3. Trailer
Header board/Front-end structures
• Check that the header board or front-end structure:
-- Is mounted securely to the trailer.
-- Has no loose or missing bolts or mounting brackets.
Landing gear
• Check that the landing gear:
-- Is fully raised.
-- Has no missing parts.
-- Crank handle is secure.
-- Support frame has no structural damage.
11-17
Frame (trailer)
• Check that the trailer frame:
-- Has no cracks or bends.
-- Has no loose or missing bolts.
-- Has no cracks in the cross members.
-- Checks for damage to the trailer floor.
Tandem release arm/Locking pins
• Check that the locking pins are locked in place and the
release arm is secured.
Doors (rear and side)
• Check that doors and hinges:
-- Are not damaged.
-- Open, close, and latch properly from the outside.
Cargo lifts
• Check that the cargo lift:
-- Has no leaking, damaged, or missing parts.
-- Is fully retracted.
-- Is securely latched.
Breakaway control module
• This test will be performed only on a combination vehicle
when the trailer has electric brakes. It is used to check that
the module works and will set the trailer brakes. To correctly
perform this test, follow these steps:
1. Disconnect the breakaway wiring from its connector on the
trailer.
2. Start the engine.
3. Place the transmission in first gear and drive forward.
4. The truck should not move forward without dragging the
trailer tires. If the combination moves forward without
dragging trailer tires or if there is no braking action on 20
percent or more of the braked wheels, the emergency
breakaway is not working.
11-18
11.5 – Checks For All Buses
Make these checks in addition to all other inspections that apply
to your vehicle:
Entry lift
• Check that the power lift:
-- Has no leaks.
-- Is not damaged.
-- Has no missing parts.
-- Is fully retracted and securely latched.
Passenger entry
• Check that the entry door is not damaged, and that it operates
smoothly and closes securely from the inside.
• Check that the entry handrails are secure.
• Check that:
-- The entry steps are clear.
-- The step treads are not too worn or loose.
• Check that nothing is blocking the aisle-way.
Emergency exit(s)
• Identify the location of all emergency exits.
• Show the tester how to use at least one emergency exit–other
than the primary entrance–and tell the tester how all other
emergency exits operate.
• You must check that the exits:
-- Are not damaged.
-- Operate smoothly.
-- Close securely from the inside.
• Check that the emergency exit warning devices are working.
Seating
• Check for broken seat frames.
• Check that the seat frames are securely attached to the floor.
• Check that seat cushions are securely attached to the seat
frames.
Compartments
• Check that baggage doors and all other outside compartment
doors are:
-- Not damaged.
-- Working properly.
-- Securely latched from the outside.
11-19
11.6 – Checks for School Buses
Make these checks in addition to all other inspections that apply
to your vehicle:
School bus lights
• Check the following external lights and reflectors:
-- Alternately-flashing amber lights.
-- Alternately-flashing red lights.
-- Stop-paddle light.
School bus emergency equipment
• Check for an emergency first-aid kit.
• Check for a body-fluid-cleanup kit.
Stop paddle
• Check the stop paddle for loose parts and damage.
• Check that it is securely mounted to the side of the bus.
Crossing arm(s)
• Check the crossing arm for loose parts and damage.
• Check that it is securely mounted to the front of the bus.
Grounds for Automatic Disqualification
You will be automatically disqualified for any of the following:
• Air supply system checks – Failure to properly demonstrate or
verbalize any of the required parameters associated with the
following air supply system checks:
-- Air leak check.
-- Low air warning check.
-- Tractor protection valve – Class A only.
-- Parking brake valve – Class B/C only.
• Failure to perform:
-- When you cannot comprehend or respond to instructions
given during any part of the pre-trip inspection test.
-- Repeated inability to properly demonstrate and/or verbalize
your vehicle’s inspection items during the pre-trip inspection
test.
• Equipment failure:
-- Anytime your vehicle has been identified as unsafe, is not
street legal, or is missing state required safety equipment.
If your vehicle is disqualified due to an equipment failure, CDL
skills test fees will be carried over to your next test attempt.
11-20
Basic Controls
This section covers:
• The Basic Controls Test
• What the tester will look for
The Basic Controls Test is used to evaluate your skill at
controlling your vehicle while backing, and your ability to judge your
vehicle’s position in relation to other objects. This test is scored
separate from the Road Test. You cannot get a CDL until you
successfully complete this part of the test.
The judgment and skills these exercises require are used in
many different driving situations and are essential to the safe
control of your vehicle.
If you disqualify on the Basic Controls Test, you must wait until
the next day to retest:
If retesting is required, you must successfully complete each
backing exercise regardless of how well each exercise was
performed during an earlier test attempt.
12.1 – The Basic Controls Test
During this test, you must perform three separate exercises,
which includes:
• Straight-line backing.
• Offset back to the right.
• Alley dock at a 90-degree angle.
Backing boundaries are lined with cones. Treat the inside base
of each cone as a vertical wall projecting upward. When any part of
your vehicle–excluding mirrors–crosses over the base or between
cones through this imaginary vertical wall, it will be scored as an
error. If you stop your vehicle during an exercise, you must perform
a vision check and sound the horn (if your vehicle does not have a
backup alarm) before continuing the exercise.
12-1
To back safely, you must always check that the backing area is
clear before you move your vehicle. Generally, you can do this by
using another person to help you or by getting out of the vehicle
yourself to make sure the way is clear.
12.2 – Scoring The Basic Controls Test
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Mirror use
Flashers
Warning devices
Crossing boundaries (encroachments)
Pullups
Vehicle exits (looks)
Final position
The tester will score the following:
Mirror Use: You must check both mirrors before backing and
continue checking both mirrors during the entire exercise. Check
both left and right mirrors at least once every ten seconds while
backing.
Flashers: You must use your 4-way flashers before you begin
each backing exercise.
Warning Devices: You must use your vehicle’s horn–unless your
vehicle has a working backup alarm–before backing your vehicle.
Encroachments: You will be scored with an encroachment error
each time any portion of your vehicle touches or crosses over an
exercise boundary. Each encroachment is scored as a two point
error.
Pullups: When you stop and reverse direction to get a better
position, it “may” be scored as a pullup. You will not be penalized for
initial pullups. However, each excessive pullup will count as a one
point error.
Outside vehicle observations (Looks); You are allowed to
stop and exit the vehicle to check the position of the rear of your
vehicle (look) during each exercise. When doing so, you must
place the vehicle in neutral, or park if equipped with an automatic
transmission and set the parking brake. When exiting and
reentering the vehicle, you must do so safely by facing the vehicle
12-2
and maintaining a three point of contact method with the vehicle at
all times. When exiting and reentering a bus, maintain a firm grasp
on the entryway handrail at all times. If you do not safely secure the
vehicle, or if you exit the vehicle in an unsafe manner, you will be
disqualified.
Final position: It is important that you finish each exercise
exactly as the tester has instructed. If you do not place the rear
of your vehicle into the final position boundary as described by
the tester, you will be penalized 10 points. This could result in a
disqualification because of exceeding a qualifying score.
You must have a passing score of 18 points or less as a combined
score for the three backing exercises. If more than 18 points are
scored, you will not pass the Basic Controls Test. If 20 or more
points are scored, the test will be stopped.
12.3 – What The Tester Will Look For
Straight Line Backing
You will be instructed to back your vehicle in a straight line
between two rows of cones without touching or crossing over the
exercise boundaries. See Figure 12-1 at the end of this section.
You must put the rear of your vehicle inside the final docking
boundary. The tester will stop you and instruct you to return back
into the exercise boundary if you encroach on or through any cones.
Offset Backing to the Right
You will be instructed to back into a space that is to the right of
your vehicle. See Figure 12-2 at the end of this section.
You will drive straight forward and then back your vehicle into
the backing lane to the right without encroaching on or through
any boundaries marked by cones. You must put the rear of your
vehicle inside the final docking boundary. The tester will stop you
and instruct you to return back into the exercise boundary if you
encroach on or through any cones.
Alley Dock
You will be instructed to set your vehicle up at a 90 degree angle
and back your vehicle–sight side–into an alley dock. See Figures
12-3a 12-3b and at the end of this section.
12-3
You must put the rear of your vehicle inside the final docking
boundary. The tester will stop you and instruct you to return back
into the exercise boundary if you encroach on or through any cones.
Grounds for Automatic Disqualification
You will be automatically disqualified for any of the following:
Accident:
• An accident, however slight. This includes contact with any
fixed object.
• Striking exercise boundary cones will not be scored as an
accident.
Dangerous action:
• Applies to situations that require the tester to intervene and
stop you from striking any fixed object.
• Applies if you fail to put the vehicle in neutral/park and set the
vehicle’s parking brake, prior to exiting the vehicle to perform
a “look.”
• Applies if you exit the vehicle in an unsafe manner while
performing a “look.”
Failure to perform:
• Applies when you cannot comprehend or respond to
instructions given during any part of the Basic Controls Test.
• Applies to the inability to perform any of the backing exercises.
12-4
Straight Line Backing Course
100’
10’
Front of base
to front of base
3’
Docking Boundary
12’
Figure 12.1
Straight line backing
12-5
100’ from front of course to barrier
on ‘B/C’ single vehicles
140’ from front of course to barrier
on ‘A’ combination vehicles
Off-Set Backing Course
33’
10’
40’
Minimum
3’
Docking Boundary
12’
Figure 12.2
Offset backing to the right
12-6
90-Degree Alley Dock Course “A” Vehicles
80’
70’ “A” Vehicles
20’
10’
20’
Docking Boundary
3’
12’
Figure 12.3a
Alley dock–’A’ vehicles
12-7
90-Degree Alley Dock Course “B/C” Vehicles
80’
50’ “B/C” Vehicles
20’
10’
20’
Docking Boundary
3’
Figure 12.3b
Alley dock–’B/C’ vehicles
12-8
12’
The Road Test
This section covers:
• The Road Test
• What the tester will look for
To get a CDL, you must pass the Road Test during daylight
hours. This test will be used to evaluate your ability to safely and
legally operate a commercial motor vehicle. You will drive on a test
route that contains a variety of traffic situations. You must drive
safely and responsibly at all times.
You will be scored as if other traffic were present during your
test, even when there is none. Always follow commercial rules of the
road by driving in, or moving to, the right-most lane on roadways
with multiple lanes traveling in the same direction, unless the tester
instructs you to do otherwise.
You will be given instructions and plenty of time to perform
what is required. You will not be told to drive in an illegal or unsafe
manner. When you are asked to simulate certain traffic situations,
tell the tester what you would do if you were in those situations.
You must have a passing Road Test score of 25 points or
less if you are operating a vehicle equipped with an automatic
transmission. A score of 30 points or less is required if you are
operating a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission.
If you disqualify on a Road Test, you must wait seven days
before you retest. If you have previously passed the Pre-trip
Inspection test, you will be required to complete a vehicle
safety inspection prior to taking the Road Test.
13-1
13.1 – The Road Test
The tester will score your performance on a state-certified road
test route.
You must correctly perform the following:
• Left and right turns.
• Stopping at and driving through intersections.
• Driving on sections of urban and rural roads.
• Making lane changes.
• Driving around curves.
• Give the tester information from traffic signs.
• Making a road side stop and reentering traffic.
• Railroad crossing.
• Driving on a freeway.
The tester will also score your general driving skills during the
test–you should:
• Use the clutch properly.
• Use the gears properly.
• Use the brakes properly.
• Control the steering wheel properly.
• Remain within your lane of travel.
• Stop at the proper point at crosswalks, stop signs, and at
stop lines.
• Conduct regular traffic and mirror checks.
• Use the turn signals properly.
• Obey all traffic signs.
• Obey all speed limits.
• Operate your vehicle safely.
13-2
13.2 – What The Tester Will Look For
This section describes the items the tester will score as you go
through your test. The tester will watch to see that you correctly
perform each of these items and that your general driving skills
meet licensing standards.
Left and Right Turns
When you have been directed to make a turn:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Signal at least 100 feet before the turn.
• Slow down smoothly and change gears as needed to keep
your vehicle’s power up.
-- Don’t coast with your foot on the clutch.
• Move into the correct lane and position your vehicle to make
the turn. Make your turns without needless stops.
If you must stop before the turn:
• Come to a smooth stop without skidding.
• If stopping behind another vehicle, leave a gap with enough
space to see the rear wheels of the vehicle in front of you.
• Stop so that your vehicle is not in the traveled part of the
intersection, over the stop line, or in the crosswalk.
• Keep the front wheels aimed straight ahead while stopped.
• Stop completely–don’t allow your vehicle to roll.
While you are turning:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
-- Continue to check your mirrors to be sure that your vehicle
does not hit anything.
• Keep both hands on the steering wheel during the turn.
• Don’t change gears during the turn.
• Control your speed. Make your turns without needless stops.
• Don’t turn into oncoming traffic and yield to pedestrians and
• other traffic.
• Don’t turn too wide or short, go over or rub the curb, or cause
other traffic to back up.
As you complete the turn:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Complete the turn in the correct lane.
-- For left turns use the left lane and for right turns use the
right lane.
13-3
• Cancel the turn signal after the rear of your vehicle has
completed the turn.
• Accelerate smoothly.
-- After left turns, move into the right-most lane (if applicable),
when it is safe to do so.
Intersections
As you approach an intersection:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks before
entering the intersection.
• Slow down and brake smoothly.
• If you need to shift gears, do so before entering the
intersection.
• Don’t coast up to the intersection.
• Move smoothly though the intersection and maintain your lane
position.
• If necessary, stop so that your vehicle is not in the traveled
part of the intersection, over the stop line, or in the crosswalk.
When you are stopping at an intersection:
• Brake smoothly and steadily.
• If stopping behind another vehicle, leave a gap with enough
space to see the rear wheels of the vehicle in front of you.
• Stop completely and don’t allow your vehicle to roll.
• When starting from a stopped position and driving straight
ahead, shift gears through the intersection–up-shift as
necessary if starting in lower gears.
When you are driving through an intersection:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks before
entering the intersection.
• Keep both hands on the steering wheel (unless shifting).
• Accelerate smoothly–don’t lug or rev the engine.
-- If gear changes are necessary after starting from a stopped
position, don’t grind or clash gears or coast through the
intersection.
• Decelerate and yield to pedestrians and other traffic in the
intersection.
• Don’t change lanes while driving through an intersection.
• Check traffic and clearance.
-- Don’t drive into an intersection unless you can safely cross.
Once you are through the intersection:
• Continue checking mirrors and traffic.
13-4
• Maintain your lane position.
• Accelerate smoothly and change gears to maintain proper
speed.
Urban and Rural Driving
As you drive down a city or county road:
• Regularly check traffic, watch for hazards, and look far enough
ahead–12 to 15 seconds.
• Check both the left and right mirrors at least once every ten
seconds.
• Select the proper lane.
-- Stay in the right-most lane when traffic conditions permit, or
unless instructed otherwise by the tester.
-- Stay to the center of the lane without wandering back and
forth.
• Keep the correct speed and don’t slow down, stop, or
accelerate more than you need to.
• Keep a proper following distance.
• If you need to stop, leave a gap with enough space to see the
rear wheels of the vehicle in front of you.
Lane Changes
When you are changing lanes:
• Check traffic to the front and use your mirrors to check traffic
to the sides and rear.
• Signal your lane change at least 100 feet before changing
lanes.
• Don’t tailgate while you wait to change lanes.
• Make a smooth lane change and maintain your speed,
keeping a proper distance between all vehicles.
• Cancel your turn signal after the rear of your vehicle
completes a lane change.
Curves
When you are driving in curves:
• Check traffic thoroughly in all directions.
• Reduce your speed before entering the curve.
• Don’t brake or shift while in the curve.
• Control your speed smoothly–you should not feel a strong pull
to the side.
• Keep all of your vehicle’s wheels in your lane.
• Regularly check traffic and use your mirrors to watch your
vehicle’s tracking.
13-5
Sign Information
The tester may ask you to:
• Give the posted weight limit for a bridge as you drive over it.
• Give the posted clearance height for an underpass as you
drive under it.
• Give information from a specific sign that relates to
commercial vehicles or road conditions.
Roadside Stop and Start
The tester will instruct you to pull over to the side of the road as if
you are making an emergency stop.
When you are stopping:
• Check traffic conditions in all directions and perform mirror
checks before moving to your right.
• Signal at least 100 feet before moving to the right.
• Position your vehicle in the right-most lane before pulling off of
the road.
• Slow down, shift gears as necessary, and brake smoothly.
• Come to a complete stop without coasting.
Once you are stopped, the tester will check that you:
• Did not hit any curb.
• Have positioned your vehicle parallel to the curb or edge of
the roadway and out of the flow of traffic.
• Did not block a driveway or fire hydrant, or park illegally.
• Don’t let your vehicle roll forward or backward.
• Canceled your turn signal and turned on your 4-way flashers.
• Set your parking brake, put the gearshift in neutral or park,
and removed your feet from your foot brake and clutch pedals.
When you are instructed to reenter traffic, the tester will check
that you:
• Check traffic conditions in all directions, and perform mirror
checks before moving your vehicle.
• Turn the 4-way flashers off and active your left turn signal
before moving your vehicle.
• Release the parking brake, put your vehicle in gear, and pull
straight ahead.
-- Don’t turn the steering wheel before your vehicle moves.
• Don’t stall the engine or allow your vehicle to roll forward or
backward.
13-6
• Accelerate smoothly and shift gears as necessary.
-- Don’t jerk, lurch, or turn sharply into the lane of travel.
-- Merge safely with other traffic.
• Cancel the turn signal after the rear of your vehicle is fully in
the traffic lane.
Railroad Crossings
When you approach and cross railroad tracks:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Activate the 4-way flashers within 200 feet before reaching the
tracks.
-- Applies to passenger and Class C hazmat vehicles.
• Slow down and brake smoothly.
• Shift gears down (if applicable) before reaching the tracks.
• If you must stop, do so within 15 to 50 feet of the nearest
track.
• Look left, look right, and listen.
• Don’t brake, or stop on the tracks.
• Don’t change gears while on the tracks.
• Don’t make lane changes or pass on the tracks.
• Don’t attempt to cross unless you have enough space to fully
cross over the tracks.
• You will be automatically disqualified, if you stall or stop
while crossing railroad tracks with any part of your vehicle on
or over the tracks.
Additional requirements for school bus vehicles:
• Activate the 4-way flashers within 200 feet before reaching the
tracks.
• Quiet students and turn off all noise making devices.
-- For test purposes, a verbal explanation is acceptable.
• Open the service door and driver’s window.
• Look left, look right and listen.
• Close the service door.
• Follow driving steps outlined above.
• De-active the 4-way flashers after clearing the tracks.
• After stopping and resuming into traffic, you will also be
automatically disqualified, if you begin to pull forward with
the service door open.
13-7
If you are testing in any passenger bus, or a Class C vehicle that
will be used to transport hazardous materials after licensure, you
must activate your 4-way flashers and stop at every railroad
crossing. Regardless, if the Class C vehicle used is not placarded
for hazardous materials at the time of testing. You are not required
to stop at a railroad crossing when the crossing is marked exempt.
Drivers operating passenger and Class C hazmat vehicles for
skills testing who fail to stop at any non-exempt crossing will be
automatically disqualified.
Student Stop (School Bus Only)
When you have been instructed to complete a simulated student
stop:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Activate alternating amber school bus flashers at:
-- No less than 100 feet and no more than 300 feet before
stopping, when traveling at or under a speed of 35 miles
per hour.
-- No less than 300 feet and no more than 500 feet before
stopping, if traveling at a speed more than 35 miles per
hour.
-- If applicable, move into the right-most lane and position
your bus to stop.
• Slow down and brake smoothly, don’t coast.
When you have stopped:
• Activate alternating red school bus flashers, stop paddle and
crossing arm.
-- You must use the override switch on the instrument panel.
• Place the transmission in neutral or park and set the parking
brake.
• Check traffic in all directions, including mirrors before opening
the service door and then open service door.
When you reenter traffic:
• Close the service door.
• Inactivate alternating red flashers, stop paddle and crossing
arm by using the override switch on the instrument panel.
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Place your foot on the service brake and put the vehicle in
gear, then release the parking brake and accelerate smoothly.
After stopping and resuming into traffic, you will be
automatically disqualified, if you begin to pull forward with the
service door open.
13-8
Freeway Driving
As you move onto the freeway and merge with traffic:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Signal at least 100 feet before merging.
• Accelerate to the traffic flow in the acceleration lane.
• Merge smoothly without stopping and maintain a proper
following distance.
• Move to the center of the driving lane and cancel your signal
as soon as the rear of your vehicle is centered in the new lane.
While you are driving on the freeway:
• Regularly check traffic conditions. Check both the left and right
mirrors at least once every ten seconds.
• Maintain a proper following distance.
• Select the proper lane.
-- Stay in the right-most lane unless you are told otherwise.
-- Stay to the center of the lane without wandering back and
forth.
• Maintain the correct speed.
-- Don’t slow down, stop, or accelerate more than you need
to.
When you exit the freeway:
• Check traffic in all directions and perform mirror checks.
• Signal at least 100 feet before the exit lane.
• Smoothly enter the deceleration lane at the start of the exit
lane.
• Slow down gradually while in the deceleration lane.
• Don’t exceed the ramp speed, coast, or use too much brake
while slowing down–you should not feel a noticeable pull to
the side on the ramp curve.
• Don’t use a trailer hand valve to slow down your vehicle.
• Maintain a proper following distance while exiting and don’t
• tailgate on the ramp.
• Cancel your turn signal when the rear of your vehicle is
completely in the exit lane.
13-9
General Driving Skills
The tester will score your general driving skills throughout the
test–you should:
• Use the clutch to shift.
-- Don’t coast with the clutch in, ride or “snap” the clutch.
-- Always double clutch on non-synchronized transmissions.
• Select the correct gear without grinding or clashing gears.
-- Don’t lug or over-rev the engine.
• Use the brakes properly.
-- Brake smoothly and with steady pressure.
-- Don’t brake too hard, don’t fan the air brakes, or ride the
brakes.
-- Don’t use the trailer hand valve to brake.
• Operate the vehicle safely.
-- Keep both hands on the steering wheel.
-- Don’t palm the steering wheel or drive with your hands on
its spokes.
-- Don’t under- or over- control your steering.
• Stay within your traffic lane and don’t scrape curbs.
-- Move to the right-most lane–unless the tester tells you
otherwise, when traveling on a roadway with more than one
lane going the same direction.
• Don’t stop beyond marked stop lines, in marked crosswalks, or
into the traveled part of intersections.
• Conduct regular traffic checks.
-- Check traffic conditions in all directions, including mirrors
regularly.
-- Check mirrors and traffic before, while in and after an
intersection.
-- Scan and check traffic in high volume areas and areas
where pedestrians are expected to be present.
• Use turn signals properly.
-- Activate turn signals when required and at the appropriate
time.
-- Cancel turn signals after completing a turn or lane change.
• Obey all traffic signs and laws.
• Obey all speed limits, including advisory and construction
zone signs.
-- Keep your speed to the posted speed limits or at no less
than ten mph below the posted limits when necessary
because of traffic or road conditions.
13-10
Grounds for Automatic Disqualification
You will be automatically disqualified for any of the following:
• A seat belt violation:
-- Anytime you drive a commercial vehicle without the seatbelt
fastened.
• An accident, however slight. This includes contact with
pedestrians, running off of the roadway, and contact with any
fixed object.
• A dangerous action:
-- Whenever another driver must drive evasively, a pedestrian
must avoid your vehicle, or the tester must take physical or
verbal control of your vehicle to prevent an accident or a
dangerous act.
-- Any part of your vehicle stalls or stops on railroad tracks.
-- If you begin to cross railroad tracks with the service door
open (school buses only).
-- Your vehicle speed is too fast for weather conditions.
-- Your vehicle speed is too fast for traffic conditions.
-- Operating the vehicle 15 mph or more under the posted
speed limit due to lack of driving skills.
• Vehicle over a curb:
-- When any of your vehicle’s wheels go up onto a curb or
sidewalk during any part of your test.
• A violation of a traffic law or any act for which you could be
cited. The most common violations are:
-- Speeding.
-- Failing to stop for a stop sign or signal.
-- Driving on the wrong side of the road.
-- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street.
-- Failing to stop at a railroad crossing (HAZMAT or any
passenger buses).
• Failure to perform:
-- When you refuse to try a maneuver, or say that you cannot
perform a required action.
-- When you cannot repeatedly comprehend or cannot
respond to instructions given during any part of the Road
Test.
-- If you are unable to properly operate your vehicle after
going a short distance on the test route.
13-11
13-12
Please recycle.
Bring this guide with
you when you come
to test.
PUB-520-408 (R/9/11)W
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