Failing the CDL Test is a new trucker’s nightmare. The written portion is one thing, but the road test is a whole other monster. What if your truck malfunctions? What if you hit a curb? It’s easy for your mind to get carried away by all the “what if’s.” However, don’t panic! Test anxiety is completely normal for truckers, but it can become detrimental if you’re too nervous. Luckily, we’ve got some tips below on passing the CDL Test with flying colors. Keep reading!
Tips for Passing the CDL Test
Know the Automatic Failures
Right off the bat, it’s important to know which mistakes are an automatic failure on the road test. Sure, there are the obvious ones like running a red light or hitting another vehicle, but some aren’t so obvious. In his article on TruckingTruth.com, Brett Aquila notes that smaller mistakes like hitting a curb, forgetting your turn signal, rolling backward before a stop, or not checking mirrors properly before changing lanes can result in an automatic failure. Why are these automatic failures? Well, these mistakes, although minor, can have potentially serious consequences. Truckers must always be aware of these safety-related issues and make sure to execute them properly every time.
Know What Mistakes are Acceptable
In his article, Aquila also discusses what he calls “acceptable mistakes.” These are things that aren’t serious safety hazards, like grinding a gear, missing a shift, or taking a turn too wide. It’s important to know that making mistakes like this once or twice during your road test probably won’t result in failure. However, if you are consistently grinding gears or making wide turns, the CDL examiner may consider failing you so you can practice more. That said, as long as you keep your composure and limit the little mistakes, it’s no big deal.
Maintain Your Composure
Aside from physically driving the truck, another factor that can make or break your road test is your composure. It’s no secret that trucking can be very high-pressure and stressful. So, during your test, it’s crucial that you demonstrate your ability to keep cool under pressure. Aquila notes that “taking the CDL road test will be the most pressure you’ve been under so far in a tractor-trailer. It feels like your life, your career, your everything depends upon whether or not you can pass this exam and get your CDL. And the CDL Examiners want it that way.” That’s right, the examiners want you to feel the pressure so they’re able to see how you handle it. If you freeze up and panic after making a small mistake, the examiner will take note of it. It’s normal to be nervous during your road test, but don’t let anxiety get the best of you. If you do make a mistake, take a breath, relax, recover, and continue driving.
I know, it’s easier said than done, but being confident makes a big difference when it comes to passing the CDL Test. Even if you have to “fake it till you make it,” confidence is key. Try as best you can to stay calm, relaxed, and positive. Act like you’ve done it a thousand times before. The CDL examiners know that you’re new to truck driving, so they’re not going to be scrutinizing your every move. They expect you to make some minor mistakes. However, making a big, safety-related mistake or cracking under pressure could result in failure. At the end of the day, passing the CDL test will depend on whether or not the examiner believes you’re able to safely handle the rig and maintain your composure.
Do you have any tips for passing the CDL test? Share them in the comments section below!