Gaining a "class B" commercial driver's license (CDL) requires completing both written and practical stages of testing. Applicants must first visit their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office and obtain a CDL learner's permit before getting truck driving lessons from an approved school or independent class B CDL holder to improve their truck driving skills. A class B CDL is required for any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more.
Find a CDL School
Find your most convenient truck driving school. Research a school with a good reputation, making sure you ask about their program and pass rates for previous drivers -- before you commit to paying for lessons. Decide on your school and inform them that you wish to learn how to drive a class B CDL. You should also consider whether or not your school administers its own examinations -- this can make things cheaper and more convenient for you. For example, if you complete your test elsewhere, you may be required to provide the CMV in which you undergo the exam. Note that you are only legally allowed to operate your CMV when accompanied in the cab by someone who has held a regular driver's license for at least five years, and a class B CDL for two years.
Study your State's CDL Manual
Read your state's CDL manual alongside your practical lessons. Although nothing beats learning behind the wheel of a class B truck, a CDL manual contains sections regarding the two phases of on-road testing. For example, study chapters 12 and 13 of the Idaho CDL manual (see Resources), which are entitled "basic control skills" and "road test," and contain all of the information you require to pass this stage of the examination.
Complete the Road Test
Road testing for all classes of CDL is divided into two separate parts, but you will be accompanied by an examiner in the cab during both stages. Drivers must first undergo a maneuvers test, which is conducted in an area with no other traffic, such as a specially designated testing forecourt with cones laid out. You have a maximum of 10 minutes to complete each maneuver, such as straight line backing and stop at-line tests. Progress through this phase to the road test, which is the final examination in the class B CDL application process. During this test, you are required to drive in ordinary, everyday traffic in a class B CMV. The examiner, next to you in the cab, will assess your ability to drive in the real life situations that occur.
Obtain a Physical Copy of Your License
Take your endorsed examination forms to your nearest Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office in the state of your CDL (see Resources). Let them know that you have completed your class B license testing and pay for your full CDL. Prices for CDLs vary between different states, as the cost is determined by the state's department of transportation -- a class B license in Minnesota, for example, costs $35 (as of March 2011).
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