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Modernized Commercial Driver License (CDL) Skills Testing

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has implemented a new, modernized commercial driver's license (CDL) skills test at all PennDOT Driver License Centers that offer CDL skills tests and at all third-party CDL driving skill testers. The new skills test began being offered on August 28, 2023.

As always, the CDL skills test examines an applicant's knowledge based on vehicle features and focuses on key skills needed to safely operate a commercial vehicle, but has been updated to reflect modern vehicle features. Applicants must pass the full CDL Skills Test – which includes pre-trip inspection, basic control and a road test – to receive their CDL. Prospective applicants scheduled to take the test after August 28, 2023, are encouraged to review and study the updated Commercial Driver License Manual to prepare for each portion of the knowledge and driver skills test.

The Vehicle Inspection (VI) test and the Basic Control Skills (BCS) test were updated during the modernization process. The Road test remains unchanged: 

The VI test is based on the type of vehicle being used for testing. CDL 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. In addition, a checklist is now authorized to be used as a memory aid for this segment.

The BCS Test will require CDL applicants to demonstrate four maneuvers to demonstrate control:

  • 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.

Additionally, The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created a long-term waiver extension that allows a state to modify the Commercial Driver's License test for drivers seeking to obtain a school bus endorsement.

On August 28, PennDOT implemented the waiver granted by FMCSA, and as a result, potential school bus drivers no longer need to take the portion of the CDL test that identifies engine components "under the hood." Under the current federal waiver, the "under the hood" portion of the test may be waived for school bus driver applicants through November 27, 2024.

For more information on the "Under the Hood" School Bus Waiver, click here.