Like all other states in the United States, Pennsylvania requires all drivers that operate commercial trucks, school buses, passenger buses, and dump trucks to possess a CDL license. The process for obtaining this license may seem overwhelming to aspiring drivers; however, the following are the necessary steps to make it as easy and painless as possible.
CDL Licensing Requirements
According to Pennsylvania state law, anyone who drives a commercial motor vehicle must have this special license. A commercial motor vehicle is defined as any vehicles with a gross weight of 26,001 or more pounds, a vehicle designed to transport more than 16 passengers including the driver, a school bus transporting minors, and any vehicle that transports hazardous materials. Every driver who is applying for a commercial learner’s permit must self-certify the vehicle they operate or are expected to operate.
Drivers that are not required to obtain a CDL include firefights who are registered to the fire department and authorized to operate the emergency vehicles. Also, drivers of farm vehicles used specifically for transporting agricultural products or farm supplies do not need a CDL. Any active duty military personnel or member of the National Guard is not required this license for operating equipment of the Department of Defense.
CDL Permit Process
Pennsylvania provides a CDL manual that drivers should access in order to study for the CDL written test. Read through the full contents of this manual in order to expand the possible job opportunities after getting the license. Study all of the various CDL endorsements, such as HAZMAT or air brakes, to be prepared as possible for the test. Then, take the practice tests that are in the manual and find more on the Internet. Simply typing in “CDL practice test” in Google will offer many free tests at your disposal. If the scores are lower than desired, go back and study the manual more in-depth on the missed questions. This will help avoid a failure that will result in additional studying later on.
After extensive preparation, the CDL knowledge test can be taken in order to get a Pennsylvania CDL permit. An application form can be found online by going to http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/pdotforms/dl_forms/dl-31cd.pdf. All applicants must be over the age of 18 and have a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license to apply. After receiving the permit, the driver is allowed to train on the road and enter into a training program. Although it is not required by all programs, it is a great idea to expand training opportunities and increase likelihood of acceptance. The CDL permit fee depends on the number of endorsements being tested for, but each one is typically around $60 to $80. The permit will be valid for one year, which gives ample time to train and prepare for the road test.
CDL License Training
Once a driver has the CDL permit, they should look into various special training programs. Bus drivers should visit the public school system, as Pennsylvania requires all public schools to provide their own bus training. Drivers of passenger buses can find company training programs; for example, Greyhound offers a six-week training program that is free of charge. Truck drivers can find a variety of training schools. Each individual truck driving program has their own cost, but many cost upwards of a thousand dollars. Check all options available before choosing which training program to enroll in.
Technically, a driver can schedule to take the road test for the CDL license as soon as they have their permit. The road test can be after 15 short days of having the permit. However, this is not suggested because it does not allow proper preparation and is more likely to end in failure. Training is crucial in order to have enough hands-on driving experience, so that a driver can confidently complete and pass the required skills test. Along with the CDL manual, training will provide the knowledge and materials necessary for passing the test with flying colors.
After completing a Pennsylvania CDL license training program, drivers are much more prepared to take the CDL road test in the class and vehicle intended. The test includes pre-trip inspection, on road driving, off-the-road maneuvering, and vehicle parking. The test will also involve evaluation of certain endorsements necessary for the license.
CDL License Cost
Once the CDL road test it passed, the driver must pay license and endorsement fees for obtaining the license. The standard Pennsylvania CDL license cost is $74.50, which will be valid for four years. Or, drivers can receive a two-year license for $44. A four-year license with Hazmat is slightly more expensive at $89.5, or $59 for a two-year license. However, it is important to remember that a federal fee of $60 will also be added on top of that cost for endorsement. For more information on fees and costs, please check out http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/fees/index.shtml.