“Know yourself. Be yourself. Love yourself. Seek goodness and be goodness. Seek beauty and be beauty. Seek love and be love.” ― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

01 May 2012

My Journey To My CDL

For the past few years, I've been saying "I should get my CDL". And, this year, I DID. For fun, I photographed some of the steps along the way.

I have a Class A CDL with the HazMat endorsement and the tanker endorsement.

Using the on line PDF, I printed my own Arizona Commercial Drivers License Manual, and had it bound. Viola - one CDL manual.

In my girly opinion, getting your CDL (commercial drivers license) is not difficult. Local schools offer CDL courses that range from $3,000 - $5,000, and some offer free training in trade for a contract to work for them after you obtain your CDL.

For about $775, I did it on my own. Mostly.

For the driving portion of my journey I needed a semi-truck. I went to CDL Truck School. Justus was super cool to work with, very professional, and they were the only local truck school that would tailor an hourly rate for my needs. I'd highly recommend them.

CDL manual in hand, I read about what I need to do, what order I need to do it in and...

[Click any photo to see a larger version]

Step one: DOT physical.

Step two: study.

There were several sections to my written tests: general knowledge, air brakes, combination vehicles, tank vehicles, and hazardous materials.

My study buddy, Suki, knocked over my drink.

Confident with my studies, I went to the MVD to stand in line. Wait, I mean, to take my written tests.

If I reach a point in life where I carry the stereotypical truck driver physique, please shoot me and put me out of my misery.

I submitted my drivers license, medical card and my cash. Number 88 (that's me) is ready to test.

I failed the air brakes test.

Grrr... frustrating.

I studied more, returned the next day and passed the air brakes test with 100%.

After passing all of my written tests, I'm the proud holder of a CDL Permit. Because I have a HazMat endorsement, I need to complete the "HazPrints". A background check and fingerprinting done by the TSA.

Each time I visited the MVD, they took a new photo. Thankfully, the photo you see here is not the one that's on my CDL.

An hours drive, $90 and five minutes time, my fingerprinting is done. It took about 2-1/2 weeks to receive a letter in the mail stating that my background check is approved.

With my CDL permit in hand, I'm ready for instruction for the driving portion of my test. I can back up a trailer but it's not pretty for lack of skill and practice. I spent two hours with Justus at CDL Truck School - the first hour was for the pre-trip inspection and the second hour was driving, which included road skills and backing.

Backing the truck and trailer includes three parts: straight line backing, off-set left backing, and parallel parking.

After my instruction, I came home to study the pre-trip inspection.

The carnage. My Honey helped me study. We spent the weekend studying together, drawing pictures of truck parts, and using our truck to learn. I crawled over, under and in our truck to learn how it all fits together.

I scored a 99% on my pre-trip inspection test.

My study buddy naps. Slacker.

Driving test day. This picture is a little confusing. My road test truck is a flatbed.

The yellow truck and trailer is for backing.
(Can I just drive the golf cart, please?).

I passed everything! Hurray! I take this envelope to the MVD office.

Ta-da! My CDL!

I did it!

A motto I heard along this journey: "Find your comfort zone, then leave it". So true.

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