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Training for Truck Drivers

Truck Driver Training

Each Driver must be trained and have knowledge in the areas listed below. Failure to properly train in these areas can seriously affects the safety of the general public and create a basis for a finding of liability against both the trucker and the trucking firm.

  • Safe operations regulations.
  • Commercial motor vehicle safety control systems.
  • Safe vehicle control
  • Shifting.
  • Backing.
  • Visual search.
  • Communication.
  • Speed management.
  • Space management.
  • Night operation.
  • Extreme driving conditions.
  • Hazard perceptions.
  • Emergency maneuvers.
  • Skid control and recovery.
  • Relationship of cargo to vehicle control.
  • Vehicle inspections:
  • The importance of periodic inspection and repair to vehicle safety.
  • The effect of undiscovered malfunctions upon safety.
  • What safety-related parts to look for when inspecting vehicles.
  • Pre-trip/enroute/post-trip inspection procedures.
  • Reporting findings.
  • Hazardous materials knowledge
  • Air brake knowledge
  • Coupling and uncoupling

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations pertaining to knowledge, skills and training are detailed below:

§ 391.11 General qualifications of drivers.

(a) A person shall not drive a commercial motor vehicle unless he/she is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle. Except as provided in § 391.63 , a motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle unless that person is qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
(b) Except as provided in subpart G of this part, a person is qualified to drive a motor vehicle if he/she —
(b)(1) Is at least 21 years old;
(b)(2) Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records;
(b)(3) Can, by reason of experience, training, or both, safely operate the type of commercial motor vehicle he/she drives;
(b)(4) Is physically qualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle in accordance with subpart E — Physical Qualifications and Examinations of this part;
(b)(5) Has a currently valid commercial motor vehicle operator’s license issued only by one State or jurisdiction;
(b)(6) Has prepared and furnished the motor carrier that employs him/her with the list of violations or the certificate as required by § 391.27 ;
(b)(7) Is not disqualified to drive a commercial motor vehicle under the rules in § 391.15 ; and
(b)(8) Has successfully completed a driver’s road test and has been issued a certificate of driver’s road test in accordance with § 391.31 , or has presented an operator’s license or a certificate of road test which the motor carrier that employs him/her has accepted as equivalent to a road test in accordance with § 391.33.

§ 383.110 General requirement.

All drivers of commercial motor vehicles shall have knowledge and skills necessary to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely as contained in this subpart. A sample of the specific types of items which a State may wish to include in the knowledge and skills tests that it administers to CDL applicants is included in the appendix to this subpart G.

§ 383.111 Required knowledge.

All commercial motor vehicle operators must have knowledge of the following general areas:

(a) Safe operations regulations. Driver-related elements of the regulations contained in 49 CFR parts 382, 391, 392, 393, 395, 396, and 397, such as: Motor vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements; procedures for safe vehicle operations; the effects of fatigue, poor vision, hearing, and general health upon safe commercial motor vehicle operation; the types of motor vehicles and cargoes subject to the requirements; and the effects of alcohol and drug use upon safe commercial motor vehicle operations.
(b) Commercial motor vehicle safety control systems. Proper use of the motor vehicle’s safety system, including lights, horns, side and rear-view mirrors, proper mirror adjustments, fire extinguishers, symptoms of improper operation revealed through instruments, motor vehicle operation characteristics, and diagnosing malfunctions. Commercial motor vehicle drivers shall have knowledge on the correct procedures needed to use these safety systems in an emergency situation, e.g., skids and loss of brakes.
(c) Safe vehicle control —
(c)(1) Control systems The purpose and function of the controls and instruments commonly found on commercial motor vehicles.
(c)(2) Basic control. The proper procedures for performing various basic maneuvers.
(c)(3) Shifting. The basic shifting rules and terms, as well as shift patterns and procedures for common transmissions.
(c)(4) Backing. The procedures and rules for various backing maneuvers.
(c)(5) Visual search. The importance of proper visual search, and proper visual search methods.
(c)(6) Communication. The principles and procedures for proper communications and the hazards of failure to signal properly.
(c)(7) Speed management. The importance of understanding the effects of speed.
(c)(8) Space management. The procedures and techniques for controlling the space around the vehicle.
(c)(9) Night operation. Preparations and procedures for night driving.
(c)(10) Extreme driving conditions. The basic information on operating in extreme driving conditions and the hazards that are encountered in extreme conditions.
(c)(11) Hazard perceptions. The basic information on hazard perception and clues for recognition of hazards.
(c)(12) Emergency maneuvers. The basic information concerning when and how to make emergency maneuvers.
(c)(13) Skid control and recovery. The information on the causes and major types of skids, as well as the procedures for recovering from skids.
(d) Relationship of cargo to vehicle control. The principles and procedures for the proper handling of cargo.
(e) Vehicle inspections: The objectives and proper procedures for performing vehicle safety inspections, as follows:
(e)(1) The importance of periodic inspection and repair to vehicle safety.
(e)(2) The effect of undiscovered malfunctions upon safety.
(e)(3) What safety-related parts to look for when inspecting vehicles.
(e)(4) Pre-trip/enroute/post-trip inspection procedures.
(e)(5) Reporting findings.
(f) Hazardous materials knowledge, such as: What constitutes hazardous material requiring an endorsement to transport; classes of hazardous materials; labeling/placarding requirements; and the need for specialized training as a prerequisite to receiving the endorsement and transporting hazardous cargoes.
(g) Air brake knowledge as follows:
(g)(1) Air brake system nomenclature;
(g)(2) The dangers of contaminated air supply;
(g)(3) Implications of severed or disconnected air lines between the power unit and the trailer(s);
(g)(4) Implications of low air pressure readings;
(g)(5) Procedures to conduct safe and accurate pre-trip inspections.
(g)(6) Procedures for conducting enroute and post-trip inspections of air actuated brake systems, including ability to detect defects which may cause the system to fail.
(h) Operators for the combination vehicle group shall also have knowledge of:
(h)(1) Coupling and uncoupling — The procedures for proper coupling and uncoupling a tractor to semi-trailer.
(h)(2) Vehicle inspection — The objectives and proper procedures that are unique for performing vehicle safety inspections on combination vehicles.

§ 383.113 Required skills.

(a) Basic vehicle control skills. All applicants for a CDL must possess and demonstrate basic motor vehicle control skills for each vehicle group which the driver operates or expects to operate. These skills should include the ability to start, to stop, and to move the vehicle forward and backward in a safe manner.
(b) Safe driving skills. All applicants for a CDL must possess and demonstrate the safe driving skills for their vehicle group. These skills should include proper visual search methods, appropriate use of signals, speed control for weather and traffic conditions, and ability to position the motor vehicle correctly when changing lanes or turning.
(c) Air brake skills. Except as provided in § 393.95 , all applicants shall demonstrate the following skills with respect to inspection and operation of air brakes:
(c)(1) Pre-trip inspection skills. Applicants shall demonstrate the skills necessary to conduct a pre-trip inspection which includes the ability to:
(c)(1)(i) Locate and verbally identify air brake operating controls and monitoring devices;
(c)(1)(ii) Determine the motor vehicle’s brake system condition for proper adjustments and that air system connections between motor vehicles have been properly made and secured;
(c)(1)(iii) Inspect the low pressure warning device(s) to ensure that they will activate in emergency situations;
(c)(1)(iv) Ascertain, with the engine running, that the system maintains an adequate supply of compressed air;
(c)(1)(v) Determine that required minimum air pressure build up time is within acceptable limits and that required alarms and emergency devices automatically deactivate at the proper pressure level; and
(c)(1)(vi) Operationally check the brake system for proper performance.
(c)(2) Driving skills. Applicants shall successfully complete the skills tests contained in § 383.113 in a representative vehicle equipped with air brakes.
(d) Test area. Skills tests shall be conducted in on-street conditions or under a combination of on-street and off-street conditions.
(e) Simulation technology. A State may utilize simulators to perform skills testing, but under no circumstances as a substitute for the required testing in on-street conditions.

§ 383.115 Requirements for double/triple trailers endorsement.

In order to obtain a Double/Triple Trailers endorsement each applicant must have knowledge covering:

(a) Procedures for assembly and hookup of the units;
(b) Proper placement of heaviest trailer;
(c) Handling and stability characteristics including off-tracking, response to steering, sensory feedback, braking, oscillatory sway, rollover in steady turns, yaw stability in steady turns; and
(d) Potential problems in traffic operations, including problems the motor vehicle creates for other motorists due to slower speeds on steep grades, longer passing times, possibility for blocking entry of other motor vehicles on freeways, splash and spray impacts, aerodynamic buffeting, view blockages, and lateral placement.

§ 383.117 Requirements for passenger endorsement.

An applicant for the passenger endorsement must satisfy both of the following additional knowledge and skills test requirements.

(a) Knowledge test. All applicants for the passenger endorsement must have knowledge covering at least the following topics:
(a)(1) Proper procedures for loading/unloading passengers;
(a)(2) Proper use of emergency exits, including push-out windows;
(a)(3) Proper responses to such emergency situations as fires and unruly passengers;
(a)(4) Proper procedures at railroad crossings and drawbridges; and
(a)(5) Proper braking procedures.
(b) Skills test. To obtain a passenger endorsement applicable to a specific vehicle group, an applicant must take his/her skills test in a passenger vehicle satisfying the requirements of that group as defined in § 383.91 .

§ 383.119 Requirements for tank vehicle endorsement.

In order to obtain a Tank Vehicle Endorsement, each applicant must have knowledge covering the following:

(a) Causes, prevention, and effects of cargo surge on motor vehicle handling;
(b) Proper braking procedures for the motor vehicle when it is empty, full and partially full;
(c) Differences in handling of baffled/compartmental tank interiors versus non-baffled motor vehicles;
(d) Differences in tank vehicle type and construction;
(e) Differences in cargo surge for liquids of varying product densities;
(f) Effects of road grade and curvature on motor vehicle handling with filled, half-filled and empty tanks;
(g) Proper use of emergency systems; and
(h) For drivers of DOT specification tank vehicles, retest and marking requirements.

§ 383.121 Requirements for hazardous materials endorsement.

In order to obtain a Hazardous Material Endorsement each applicant must have such knowledge as is required of a driver of a hazardous materials laden vehicle, from information contained in 49 CFR parts 171, 172, 173, 177, 178, and 397 on the following:

(a) Hazardous materials regulations including:
(a)(1) Hazardous materials table;
(a)(2) Shipping paper requirements;
(a)(3) Marking;
(a)(4) Labeling;
(a)(5) Placarding requirements;
(a)(6) Hazardous materials packaging;
(a)(7) Hazardous materials definitions and preparation;
(a)(8) Other regulated material (e.g., ORM-D);
(a)(9) Reporting hazardous materials accidents; and
(a)(10) Tunnels and railroad crossings.
(b) Hazardous materials handling including:
(b)(1) Forbidden Materials and Packages;
(b)(2) Loading and Unloading Materials;
(b)(3) Cargo Segregation;
(b)(4) Passenger Carrying Buses and Hazardous Materials;
(b)(5) Attendance of Motor Vehicles;
(b)(6) Parking;
(b)(7) Routes;
(b)(8) Cargo Tanks; and
(b)(9) “Safe Havens.”
(c) Operation of emergency equipment including:
(c)(1) Use of equipment to protect the public;
(c)(2) Special precautions for equipment to be used in fires;
(c)(3) Special precautions for use of emergency equipment when loading or unloading a hazardous materials laden motor vehicle; and
(c)(4) Use of emergency equipment for tank vehicles.
(d) Emergency response procedures including:
(d)(1) Special care and precautions for different types of accidents;
(d)(2) Special precautions for driving near a fire and carrying hazardous materials, and smoking and carrying hazardous materials;
(d)(3) Emergency procedures; and
(d)(4) Existence of special requirements for transporting Class A and B explosives.

§ 383.123 Requirements for a school bus endorsement.

(a) An applicant for a school bus endorsement must satisfy the following three requirements:
(a)(1) Qualify for passenger vehicle endorsement. Pass the knowledge and skills test for obtaining a passenger vehicle endorsement.
(a)(2) Knowledge test. Must have knowledge covering at least the following three topics:
(a)(2)(i) Loading and unloading children, including the safe operation of stop signal devices, external mirror systems, flashing lights and other warning and passenger safety devices required for school buses by State or Federal law or regulation.
(a)(2)(ii) Emergency exits and procedures for safely evacuating passengers in an emergency.
(a)(2)(iii) State and Federal laws and regulations related to safely traversing highway rail grade crossings.
(a)(3) Skills test. Must take a driving skills test in a school bus of the same vehicle group (see § 383.91(a) ) as the school bus applicant will drive.
(b) Substitute for driving skills test.
(b)(1) At the discretion of a State, the driving skills test required in paragraph (a)(3) of this section may be waived for an applicant who is currently licensed, has experience driving a school bus, has a good driving record, and meets the conditions set forth in paragraph (b)(2) of this section.
(b)(2) An applicant must certify and the State must verify that, during the two-year period immediately prior to applying for the school bus endorsement, the applicant:
(b)(2)(i) Held a valid CDL with a passenger vehicle endorsement to operate a school bus representative of the group he or she will be driving;
(b)(2)(ii) Has not had his or her driver’s license or CDL suspended, revoked or canceled or been disqualified from operating a CMV;
(b)(2)(iii) Has not been convicted of any of the disqualifying offenses in § 383.51(b) while operating a CMV or of any offense in a non-CMV that would be disqualifying under § 383.51(b) if committed in a CMV;
(b)(2)(iv) Has not had more than one conviction of any of the serious traffic violations defined in § 383.5 , while operating any type motor vehicle;
(b)(2)(v) Has not had any conviction for a violation of State or local law relating to motor vehicle traffic control (other than a parking violation) arising in connection with any traffic accident;
(b)(2)(vi) Has not been convicted of any motor vehicle traffic violation that resulted in an accident; and
(b)(2)(vii) Has been regularly employed as a school bus driver, has operated a school bus representative of the group the applicant seeks to drive, and provides evidence of such employment.
(b)(3) After September 30, 2005 the provisions in paragraph (b) of this section do not apply.

§ Appendix to Subpart G Required Knowledge and Skills Sample Guidelines
The following is a sample of the specific types of items which a State may wish to include in the knowledge and skills tests that it administers to CDL applicants. This appendix closely follows the framework of §§383.111 and §383.113. It is intended to provide more specific guidance and suggestion to States. Additional detail in this appendix is not binding and States may depart from it at their discretion provided their CDL program tests for the general areas of knowledge and skill specified in §§383.111 and §383.113.Examples of specific knowledge elements

(a)(1) Motor vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements as contained in Parts 393 and 396 of this title;
(a)(2) Procedures for safe vehicle operations as contained in Part 392 of this title;
(a)(3) The effects of fatigue, poor vision, hearing, and general health upon safe commercial motor vehicle operation as contained in Parts 391, 392, and 395 of this title;
(a)(4) The types of motor vehicles and cargoes subject to the requirements contained in Part 397 of this title; and
(a)(5) The effects of alcohol and drug use upon safe commercial motor vehicle operations as contained in Parts 391 and 395 of this title.
(b) Commercial motor vehicle safety control systems. Proper use of the motor vehicle’s safety system, including lights, horns, side and rear view mirrors, proper mirror adjustments, fire extinguishers, symptoms of improper operation revealed through instruments, motor vehicle operation characteristics, and diagnosing malfunctions. Commercial motor vehicle drivers shall have knowledge on the correct procedures needed to use these safety systems in an emergency situation, e.g., skids and loss of brakes.
(c) Safe vehicle control.
(c)(1) Control systems ? The purpose and function of the controls and instruments commonly found on commercial motor vehicles.
(c)(2) Basic control ? The proper procedures for performing various basic maneuvers, including:
(c)(2)(i) Starting, warming up, and shutting down the engine;
(c)(2)(ii) Putting the vehicle in motion and stopping;
(c)(2)(iii) Backing in a straight line; and
(c)(2)(iv) Turning the vehicle, e.g., basic rules, off tracking, right/ left turns and right curves.
(c)(3) Shifting ? The basic shifting rules and terms, as well as shift patterns and procedures for common transmissions, including:
(c)(3)(i) Key elements of shifting, e.g., controls, when to shift and double clutching;
(c)(3)(ii) Shift patterns and procedures; and
(c)(3)(iii) Consequences of improper shifting.
(c)(4)) Backing ? The procedures and rules for various backing maneuvers, including:
(c)(4)(i) Backing principles and rules; and
(c)(4)(ii) Basic backing maneuvers, e.g., straight line backing, and backing on a curved path.
(c)(5) Visual search ? The importance of proper visual search, and proper visual search methods, including:
(c)(5)(i) Seeing ahead and to the sides;
(c)(5)(ii) Use of mirrors; and
(c)(5)(iii) Seeing to the rear.
(c)(6) Communication ? The principles and procedures for proper communications and the hazards of failure to signal properly, including:
(c)(6)(i) Signaling intent, e.g., signaling when changing speed or direction in traffic;
(c)(6)(ii) Communicating presence, e.g., using horn or lights to signal presence; and
(c)(6)(iii) Misuse of communications.
(c)(7) Speed Management ? The importance of understanding the effects of speed, including:
(c)(7)(i) Speed and stopping distance;
(c)(7)(ii) Speed and surface conditions;
(c)(7)(iii) Speed and the shape of the road;
(c)(7)(iv) Speed and visibility; and
(c)(7)(v) Speed and traffic flow.
(c)(8) Space management ? The procedures and techniques for controlling the space around the vehicle, including:
(c)(8)(i) The importance of space management;
(c)(8)(ii) Space cushions, e.g., controlling space ahead/to the rear;
(c)(8)(iii) Space to the sides; and
(c)(8)(iv) Space for traffic gaps.
(c)(9) Night operation ? Preparations and procedures for night driving, including:
(c)(9)(i) Night driving factors, e.g., driver factors, (vision, glare, fatigue, inexperience), roadway factors, (low illumination, variation in illumination, familiarity with roads, other road users, especially drivers exhibiting erratic or improper driving), vehicle factors (headlights, auxiliary lights, turn signals, windshields and mirrors); and
(c)(9)(ii) Night driving procedures, e.g., preparing to drive at night and driving at night.
(c)(10) Extreme driving conditions ? The basic information on operating in extreme driving conditions and the hazards that are encountered in extreme conditions, including:
(c)(10)(i) Adverse weather;
(c)(10)(ii) Hot weather; and
(c)(10)(iii) Mountain driving.
(c)(11) Hazard perceptions ? The basic information on hazard perception and clues for recognition of hazards, including:
(c)(11)(i) Importance of hazards recognition;
(c)(11)(ii) Road characteristics; and
(c)(11)(iii) Road user activities.
(c)(12) Emergency maneuvers ? The basic information concerning when and how to make emergency maneuvers, including:
(c)(12)(i) Evasive steering;
(c)(12)(ii) Emergency stop;
(c)(12)(iii) Off road recovery;
(c)(12)(iv) Brake failure; and
(c)(12)(v) Blowouts.
(c)(13) Skid control and recovery ? The information on the causes and major types of skids, as well as the procedures for recovering from skids.
(d) Relationship of cargo to vehicle control. The principles and procedures for the proper handling of cargo, including:
(d)(1) The importance of proper cargo handling, e.g., consequences of improperly secured cargo, drivers’ responsibilities, Federal/State and local regulations.
(d)(2) Principles of weight distribution.
(d)(3) Principles and methods of cargo securement.
(e) Vehicle inspections: The objectives and proper procedures for performing vehicle safety inspections, as follows:
(e)(1) The importance of periodic inspection and repair to vehicle safety and to prevention of enroute breakdowns.
(e)(2) The effect of undiscovered malfunctions upon safety.
(e)(3) What safety related parts to look for when inspecting vehicles, e.g., fluid leaks, interference with visibility, bad tires, wheel and rim defects, braking system defects, steering system defects, suspension system defects, exhaust system defects, coupling system defects, and cargo problems.
(e)(4) Pre trip/enroute/post trip inspection procedures.
(e)(5) Reporting findings.
(f) Hazardous materials knowledge, as follows:
(f)(1) What constitutes hazardous material requiring an endorsement to transport; and
(f)(2) Classes of hazardous materials, labeling/placarding requirements, and the need for specialized training as a prerequisite to receiving the endorsement and transporting hazardous cargoes.
(g) Air brake knowledge as follows:
(g)(1) General air brake system nomenclature;
(g)(2) The dangers of contaminated air (dirt, moisture and oil) supply;
(g)(3) Implications of severed or disconnected air lines between the power unit and the trailer(s);
(g)(4) Implications of low air pressure readings;
(g)(5) Procedures to conduct safe and accurate pre-trip inspections, including knowledge about:
(g)(5)(i) Automatic fail-safe devices;
(g)(5)(ii) System monitoring devices; and
(g)(5)(iii) Low pressure warning alarms.
(g)(6) Procedures for conducting enroute and post-trip inspections of air actuated brake systems, including ability to detect defects which may cause the system to fail, including:
(g)(6)(i) Tests which indicate the amount of air loss from the braking system within a specified period, with and without the engine running; and
(g)(6)(ii) Tests which indicate the pressure levels at which the low air pressure warning devices and the tractor protection valve should activate.
(h) (h) Operators for the combination vehicle group shall also have knowledge of:
(h)(1) Coupling and uncoupling. The procedures for proper coupling and uncoupling a tractor to semi-trailer.
(h)(2) Vehicle inspection — The objectives and proper procedures that are unique for performing vehicle safety inspections on combination vehicles.

Examples of Specific Skills Elements

These examples relate to paragraphs (a) and (b) of § 383.113 only.

(a) Basic vehicle control skills. All applicants for a CDL must possess and demonstrate the following basic motor vehicle control skills for each vehicle group which the driver operates or expects to operate. These skills shall include:
(a)(1) Ability to start, warm-up, and shut down the engine;
(a)(2) Ability to put the motor vehicle in motion and accelerate smoothly, forward and backward;
(a)(3) Ability to bring the motor vehicle to a smooth stop;
(a)(8) Ability to observe the road and the behavior of other motor vehicles, particularly before changing speed and direction.
(a)(4) Ability to back the motor vehicle in a straight line, and check path and clearance while backing;
(a)(5) Ability to position the motor vehicle to negotiate and then make left and right turns;
(a)(6) Ability to shift as required and select appropriate gear for speed and highway conditions;
(a)(7) Ability to back along a curved path; and
(a)(8) Ability to observe the road and the behavior of other motor vehicles, particularly before changing speed and direction.
(b) Safe driving skills. All applicants for a CDL must possess and demonstrate the following safe driving skills for any vehicle group. These skills shall include:
(b)(1) Ability to use proper visual search methods.
(b)(2) Ability to signal appropriately when changing speed or direction in traffic.
(b)(3) Ability to adjust speed to the configuration and condition of the roadway, weather and visibility conditions, traffic conditions, and motor vehicle, cargo and driver conditions;
(b)(4) Ability to choose a safe gap for changing lanes, passing other vehicles, as well as for crossing or entering traffic;
(b)(5) Ability to position the motor vehicle correctly before and during a turn to prevent other vehicles from passing on the wrong side as well as to prevent problems caused by off-tracking;
(b)(6) Ability to maintain a safe following distance depending on the condition of the road, on visibility, and on vehicle weight; and
(b)(7) Ability to adjust operation of the motor vehicle to prevailing weather conditions including speed selection, braking, direction changes and following distance to maintain control.

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Last Modified: Friday, October 17, 2003

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