Page 1 General Knowledge Test Study Guide for the CDL

General Information

Drivers with a Commercial Driver’s License must know and follow certain guidelines to do their job in the safest and most efficient manner. This study guide aims to give a brief synopsis of some of these rules to help drivers do their job in the best way possible.

Vehicle Inspection

Following the same steps every time you inspect your vehicle can help reduce the chances of missing an important safety hazard or defect. This is why, before embarking on any trip, you should always follow the seven-step pre-trip inspection method. Here are the steps included in this method:

1) The first step is a vehicle overview. Note the general condition of the vehicle and look for leaks. Check the last written Vehicle Inspection Report to see if there were any problems and if they have been fixed.

2) The second step is to check the engine’s compartment. Ensure the wheels are chocked or the parking brakes are on. Check if all engine fluids are at optimal levels. Search for loose wires, hoses, and belts and fix them, if any.

3) The third step includes firing up the engine and inspecting the cab. Do you hear any strange noises coming from the motor? Look at the gauges and ensure each is operating within a normal range. Check to see if any of the controls seem loose or sticky. Double-check if the truck is equipped with proper safety equipment, such as reflective triangles and a fire extinguisher.

4) The fourth step is to check the lights. Put on the parking brakes, turn off the engine, turn on the headlights and flashers, and take the key with you as you go to the front of the vehicle. When you are confident that all lights are operational, go back into the vehicle, push the dimmer switch, and go back out to ensure the high beams work as well.

5) The fifth step is a walk-around inspection. Turn on your right signal lights and make sure all tires are in good condition. The brakes and suspension should be working; the fuel tank, exhaust system, and transmission should not be leaking. Ensure that cargos are properly secured and required signs are hung. Make certain your rear doors are locked and your license plate is present and secured.

6) The sixth step is to check the signal lights. Turn off all previously checked lights and turn on the stop lights and left-turn signal. Go outside the vehicle, if needed, to ensure that the lights flash the correct color. Signals facing the front of the vehicle should be amber or white, while your rear-turn signals and stop lights should be amber, red, or yellow.

7) The final step is to test your brakes. Turn off lights unnecessary when driving, have all your needed paperwork with you, secure any loose items in the cab, buckle up, and start the engine. Move the vehicle forward and apply the parking brake. If the parking brake works, release it and test the service-brake stopping action. Go about 5 miles per hour and firmly push the brake pedal down. If you feel any pulling to one side or any strange sensations in the pedal, you may be having brake trouble. Address these issues before starting your trip.

During your trip, inspect your truck within the first 50 miles—and every 150 miles after 3 hours. Ensure your cargo and couples are still secure, your tires are still in good working order, and your brakes are not overheating. After your trip, fill out a Vehicle Inspection Report noting anything that may need to be addressed for maintenance or safety.