PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has announced that a new version of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test will be implemented later this summer.
PennDOT says that all of their Driver License Centers that offer CDL skills tests and all third-party CDL driving skill testers will make this change beginning August 28, 2023.
PennDOT says the updated test will help ensure that CDL drivers have the knowledge and skills to drive safely while waiving outdated requirements and keeping up with new technology.
“Governor Shapiro has made it clear that the Commonwealth should help people succeed, not get in the way. Under his direction, PennDOT is working to make our services more accessible and effective for the people of Pennsylvania,” PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said. “As someone with a CDL, I know that technology in our vehicles has greatly evolved and improved, even in our commercial vehicles. This modernized test is another way PennDOT is enhancing its services to better serve our CDL applicants while still ensuring the safety of school bus passengers.”
One outdated requirement that PennDOT says is being lifted starting August 28 is the “Under the Hood requirement.” This means that potential school bus drivers will no longer need to take the part of the CDL test that requires them to identify engine components.
This change was made possible by a long-term waiver extension created Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The waiver allows states to modify the CDL test for drivers seeking a school bus endorsement.
PennDOT is using this waiver to waive the “under the hood” requirement for school bus drivers through November 27, 2024.
“Knowing the components of a school bus engine does not impact a school bus driver’s safe driving skills,” Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kara Templeton said. “By implementing this waiver from FMCSA, we hope that more drivers will apply for the school bus endorsement and become school bus drivers.”
PennDOT says the new skills test now tests applicants’ knowledge of modern vehicle features and still focuses on key skills needed to safely operate a commercial vehicle.
To receive their CDL, applicants need to complete the full test including a pre-trip inspection, basic control, and a road test.
The Vehicle Inspection and Basic Control Skills tests were also updated.
Once the change is implemented on the inspection portion, applicants may be asked to identify up to 90 different components on the vehicle and describe what they are looking for to ensure it is safe and ready for use compared to the current requirement of more than 100 items.
Additionally, a checklist may also now be used as a memory aid for the inspection test.
The basic skills portion will require applicants to demonstrate four maneuvers to demonstrate control. These include:
· Forward Stop to demonstrate an applicant’s ability to judge the front of the vehicle;
· Straight-Line Backing to demonstrate the applicant’s ability to back the vehicle in a straight line;
· Forward Offset Tracking to demonstrate an applicant’s ability to maneuver the vehicle around other objects while moving forward; and
· Reverse Offset Backing to demonstrate an applicant’s ability to offset reverse and park the vehicle.
Applicants who have already completed portions of the test prior to August 28 will still need to complete current versions of CDL Skills Testing.
PennDOT says these applicants should continue to review and study the current Commercial Driver License Manual to prepare.
Prospective applicants who are scheduled to take the test after August 28, 2023, should study the updated Commercial Driver License Manual.