To practice driving for an eventual commercial drivers license (CDL) you first need to obtain a commercial drivers instruction permit (CDIP). You cannot practice driving a rig with just regular drivers license.
Before studying, make sure you're eligible to obtain a CDL. In most states you'll need to meet the following requirements:
- You're at least 18. If you want to drive interstate (across country, from state to state) you must be at least 21.
- You own a valid drivers license.
If eligible, you'll need to pass a commercial driver instruction permit test to obtain a CDIP. This test involves no driving. It's a written exam similar to the one you passed for your regular driver license. The lone difference being that the multiple choice questions only address commercial driving topics.
Get prepared by studying your state's CDL manual and taking a few practice permit tests.
Study Your State's Commercial Drivers License Manual
Studying your state's CDL manual is the best way to prepare for the exam. All test questions are culled from topics covered in the manual. There are no questions designed to trick you.
Manual topics you'll be quizzed on in the CDL permit exam include:
- Vehicle inspection.
- Communicating with other drivers.
- Shifting gears and basic control of your vehicle.
- Controlling speed and managing space with other vehicles.
- How to see or anticipate hazards.
- The dangers of distracted driving.
- The dangers of driving while drinking.
- Rail road crossing.
- Driving at night.
- Driving in different weather conditions.
- Driving emergencies.
- Skid control and recovery.
- Accident procedures.
- The importance of staying alert and fit to drive.
Visit your local Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) office to obtain a CDL manual. Or, save time by downloading an online copy from your DMV's website.
Take a CDL Practice Permit Test
After studying the manual, you'll next want to take at least one practice test. Similar to regular permit practice tests, CDL practice tests help you get an idea of what to expect on the real test, as well as test your knowledge so far. Your state DMV may offer practice tests in the back of the CDL manual or on its Web page.
If not, search online for CDL practice permit tests. Though these are offered by outside companies, these tests replicate the actual exam, allowing you to accurately assess your comprehension of the material. Take as many as needed. After passing several in a row, you'll know you're ready.