Commercial Driver Education in Virginia
Education is essential for any commercial driver, not only to learn to drive an unwieldy commercial vehicle, but for the safety of everyone on the road.
Each state licenses its own commercial drivers according to standards set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). States license their drivers after the driver passes knowledge (written) and skills (road) tests.
There are also extra tests you can take to operate certain types of commercial vehicles. You might be required to take a few separate knowledge tests to have the following endorsements on your CDL:
- T - Double/Triple Trailers (knowledge test only)
- P - Passenger (knowledge and skills tests)
- N - Tank Vehicle (knowledge test only)
- H - Hazardous Materials (knowledge test only)
- X - Combination of Tank Vehicle and Hazardous Materials
State exams must be at least as strict as the federal standards. For example, the general knowledge test must contain at least 30 questions and drivers must correctly answer at least 80% of the questions to pass the general and endorsement knowledge tests.
The road skills tests must be taken in a vehicle of the type that the driver expects to operate with his or her license.
While you're not required by law to take CDL courses, you can to help you pass all these tests. In Virginia, third-party testers and driver education courses are approved by the state. Many motor carrier companies also provide driver education to their employees.
The state must evaluate these programs at least once annually, according to federal standards. The FHWA and the state must also be allowed to conduct random tests and inspections of the schools without notice.
To prepare for your CDL exams, you should read the Virginia Commercial Driver's Manual to begin. This is not a replacement for professional education―the best place to get comprehensive knowledge and practical driving skills is through a commercial driver education course.