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Title 49

Displaying title 49, up to date as of 9/14/2021. Title 49 was last amended 9/13/2021.

Title 49

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Subpart G - Required Knowledge and Skills

53 FR 27654, July 21, 1988, unless otherwise noted.

§ 383.110 General requirement.

All drivers of CMVs must have the knowledge and skills necessary to operate a CMV safely as contained in this subpart. The specific types of items that a State must include in the knowledge and skills tests that it administers to CDL applicants are included in this subpart.

[76 FR 26888, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.111 Required knowledge.

(a) All CMV operators must have knowledge of the following 20 general areas:

(1) Safe operations regulations. Driver-related elements of the regulations contained in parts 391, 392, 393, 395, 396, and 397 of this subchapter, such as:

(i) Motor vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance requirements;

(ii) Procedures for safe vehicle operations;

(iii) The effects of fatigue, poor vision, hearing impairment, and general health upon safe commercial motor vehicle operation;

(iv) The types of motor vehicles and cargoes subject to the requirements contained in part 397 of this subchapter; and

(v) The effects of alcohol and drug use upon safe commercial motor vehicle operations.

(2) Safe vehicle control systems. The purpose and function of the controls and instruments commonly found on CMVs.

(3) CMV safety control systems.

(i) Proper use of the motor vehicle's safety system, including lights, horns, side and rear-view mirrors, proper mirror adjustments, fire extinguishers, symptoms of improper operation revealed through instruments, motor vehicle operation characteristics, and diagnosing malfunctions.

(ii) CMV drivers must have knowledge of the correct procedures needed to use these safety systems in an emergency situation, e.g., skids and loss of brakes.

(4) Basic control. The proper procedures for performing various basic maneuvers, including:

(i) Starting, warming up, and shutting down the engine;

(ii) Putting the vehicle in motion and stopping;

(iii) Backing in a straight line; and

(iv) Turning the vehicle, e.g., basic rules, off tracking, right/left turns and right curves.

(5) Shifting. The basic shifting rules and terms for common transmissions, including:

(i) Key elements of shifting, e.g., controls, when to shift, and double clutching;

(ii) Shift patterns and procedures; and

(iii) Consequences of improper shifting.

(6) Backing. The procedures and rules for various backing maneuvers, including:

(i) Backing principles and rules; and

(ii) Basic backing maneuvers, e.g., straight-line backing, and backing on a curved path.

(7) Visual search. The importance of proper visual search, and proper visual search methods, including:

(i) Seeing ahead and to the sides;

(ii) Use of mirrors; and

(iii) Seeing to the rear.

(8) Communication. The principles and procedures for proper communications and the hazards of failure to signal properly, including:

(i) Signaling intent, e.g., signaling when changing direction in traffic;

(ii) Communicating presence, e.g., using horn or lights to signal presence; and

(iii) Misuse of communications.

(9) Speed management. The importance of understanding the effects of speed, including:

(i) Speed and stopping distance;

(ii) Speed and surface conditions;

(iii) Speed and the shape of the road;

(iv) Speed and visibility; and

(v) Speed and traffic flow.

(10) Space management. The procedures and techniques for controlling the space around the vehicle, including:

(i) The importance of space management;

(ii) Space cushions, e.g., controlling space ahead/to the rear;

(iii) Space to the sides; and

(iv) Space for traffic gaps.

(11) Night operation. Preparations and procedures for night driving, including:

(i) Night driving factors, e.g., driver factors (vision, glare, fatigue, inexperience);

(ii) Roadway factors (low illumination, variation in illumination, unfamiliarity with roads, other road users, especially drivers exhibiting erratic or improper driving); and

(iii) Vehicle factors (headlights, auxiliary lights, turn signals, windshields and mirrors).

(12) Extreme driving conditions. The basic information on operating in extreme driving conditions and the hazards encountered in such conditions, including:

(i) Bad weather, e.g., snow, ice, sleet, high wind;

(ii) Hot weather; and

(iii) Mountain driving.

(13) Hazard perceptions. The basic information on hazard perception and clues for recognition of hazards, including:

(i) Road characteristics; and

(ii) Road user activities.

(14) Emergency maneuvers. The basic information concerning when and how to make emergency maneuvers, including:

(i) Evasive steering;

(ii) Emergency stop;

(iii) Off road recovery;

(iv) Brake failure; and

(v) Blowouts.

(15) Skid control and recovery. The information on the causes and major types of skids, as well as the procedures for recovering from skids.

(16) Relationship of cargo to vehicle control. The principles and procedures for the proper handling of cargo, including:

(i) Consequences of improperly secured cargo, drivers' responsibilities, and Federal/State and local regulations;

(ii) Principles of weight distribution; and

(iii) Principles and methods of cargo securement.

(17) Vehicle inspections. The objectives and proper procedures for performing vehicle safety inspections, as follows:

(i) The importance of periodic inspection and repair to vehicle safety.

(ii) The effect of undiscovered malfunctions upon safety.

(iii) What safety-related parts to look for when inspecting vehicles, e.g., fluid leaks, interference with visibility, bad tires, wheel and rim defects, braking system defects, steering system defects, suspension system defects, exhaust system defects, coupling system defects, and cargo problems.

(iv) Pre-trip/enroute/post-trip inspection procedures.

(v) Reporting findings.

(18) Hazardous materials. Knowledge of the following:

(i) What constitutes hazardous material requiring an endorsement to transport;

(ii) Classes of hazardous materials;

(iii) Labeling/placarding requirements; and

(iv) Need for specialized training as a prerequisite to receiving the endorsement and transporting hazardous cargoes.

(19) Mountain driving. Practices that are important when driving upgrade and downgrade, including:

(i) Selecting a safe speed;

(ii) Selecting the right gear; and

(iii) Proper braking techniques.

(20) Fatigue and awareness. Practices that are important to staying alert and safe while driving, including;

(i) Being prepared to drive;

(ii) What to do when driving to avoid fatigue;

(iii) What to do when sleepy while driving; and

(iv) What to do when becoming ill while driving.

(b) Air brakes. All CMV drivers operating vehicles equipped with air brakes must have knowledge of the following 7 areas:

(1) General air brake system nomenclature;

(2) The dangers of contaminated air supply (dirt, moisture, and oil);

(3) Implications of severed or disconnected air lines between the power unit and the trailer(s);

(4) Implications of low air pressure readings;

(5) Procedures to conduct safe and accurate pre-trip inspections, including knowledge about:

(i) Automatic fail-safe devices;

(ii) System monitoring devices; and

(iii) Low pressure warning alarms.

(6) Procedures for conducting en route and post-trip inspections of air-actuated brake systems, including:

(i) Ability to detect defects that may cause the system to fail;

(ii) Tests that indicate the amount of air loss from the braking system within a specified period, with and without the engine running; and

(iii) Tests that indicate the pressure levels at which the low air pressure warning devices and the tractor protection valve should activate.

(7) General operating practices and procedures, including:

(i) Proper braking techniques;

(ii) Antilock brakes;

(iii) Emergency stops; and

(iv) Parking brake.

(c) Combination vehicles. All CMV drivers operating combination vehicles must have knowledge of the following 3 areas:

(1) Coupling and uncoupling - The procedures for proper coupling and uncoupling a tractor to a semi-trailer;

(2) Vehicle inspection - The objectives and proper procedures that are unique for performing vehicle safety inspections on combination vehicles; and

(3) General operating practices and procedures, including:

(i) Safely operating combination vehicles; and

(ii) Air brakes.

[76 FR 26888, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.113 Required skills.

(a) Pre-trip vehicle inspection skills. Applicants for a CDL must possess the following basic pre-trip vehicle inspection skills for the vehicle class that the driver operates or expects to operate:

(1) All test vehicles. Applicants must be able to identify each safety-related part on the vehicle and explain what needs to be inspected to ensure a safe operating condition of each part, including:

(i) Engine compartment;

(ii) Cab/engine start;

(iii) Steering;

(iv) Suspension;

(v) Brakes;

(vi) Wheels;

(vii) Side of vehicle;

(viii) Rear of vehicle; and

(ix) Special features of tractor trailer, school bus, or coach/transit bus, if this type of vehicle is being used for the test.

(2) Air brake equipped test vehicles. Applicants must demonstrate the following skills with respect to inspection and operation of air brakes:

(i) Locate and verbally identify air brake operating controls and monitoring devices;

(ii) Determine the motor vehicle's brake system condition for proper adjustments and that air system connections between motor vehicles have been properly made and secured;

(iii) Inspect the low pressure warning device(s) to ensure that they will activate in emergency situations;

(iv) With the engine running, make sure that the system maintains an adequate supply of compressed air;

(v) Determine that required minimum air pressure build up time is within acceptable limits and that required alarms and emergency devices automatically deactivate at the proper pressure level; and

(vi) Operationally check the brake system for proper performance.

(b) Basic vehicle control skills. All applicants for a CDL must possess and demonstrate the following basic motor vehicle control skills for the vehicle class that the driver operates or expects to operate:

(1) Ability to start, warm up, and shut down the engine;

(2) Ability to put the motor vehicle in motion and accelerate smoothly, forward and backward;

(3) Ability to bring the motor vehicle to a smooth stop;

(4) Ability to back the motor vehicle in a straight line, and check path and clearance while backing;

(5) Ability to position the motor vehicle to negotiate safely and then make left and right turns;

(6) Ability to shift as required and select appropriate gear for speed and highway conditions; and

(7) Ability to back along a curved path.

(c) Safe on-road driving skills. All applicants for a CDL must possess and demonstrate the following safe on-road driving skills for their vehicle class:

(1) Ability to use proper visual search methods;

(2) Ability to signal appropriately when changing direction in traffic;

(3) Ability to adjust speed to the configuration and condition of the roadway, weather and visibility conditions, traffic conditions, and motor vehicle, cargo and driver conditions;

(4) Ability to choose a safe gap for changing lanes, passing other vehicles, as well as for crossing or entering traffic;

(5) Ability to position the motor vehicle correctly before and during a turn to prevent other vehicles from passing on the wrong side, as well as to prevent problems caused by off-tracking;

(6) Ability to maintain a safe following distance depending on the condition of the road, visibility, and vehicle weight;

(7) Ability to adjust operation of the motor vehicle to prevailing weather conditions including speed selection, braking, direction changes, and following distance to maintain control; and

(8) Ability to observe the road and the behavior of other motor vehicles, particularly before changing speed and direction.

(d) Test area. Skills tests shall be conducted in on-street conditions or under a combination of on-street and off-street conditions.

(e) Simulation technology. A State may utilize simulators to perform skills testing, but under no circumstances as a substitute for the required testing in on-street conditions.

[76 FR 26889, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.115 Requirements for double/triple trailers endorsement.

In order to obtain a double/triple trailers endorsement each applicant must have knowledge covering:

(a) Procedures for assembly and hookup of the units;

(b) Proper placement of heaviest trailer;

(c) Handling and stability characteristics including off-tracking, response to steering, sensory feedback, braking, oscillatory sway, rollover in steady turns, and yaw stability in steady turns;

(d) Potential problems in traffic operations, including problems the motor vehicle creates for other motorists due to slower speeds on steep grades, longer passing times, possibility for blocking entry of other motor vehicles on freeways, splash and spray impacts, aerodynamic buffeting, view blockages, and lateral placement; and

(e) Operating practices and procedures not otherwise specified.

[76 FR 26890, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.117 Requirements for passenger endorsement.

An applicant for the passenger endorsement must satisfy both of the following additional knowledge and skills test requirements.

(a) Knowledge test. All applicants for the passenger endorsement must have knowledge covering the following topics:

(1) Proper procedures for loading/unloading passengers;

(2) Proper use of emergency exits, including push-out windows;

(3) Proper responses to such emergency situations as fires and unruly passengers;

(4) Proper procedures at railroad-highway grade crossings and drawbridges;

(5) Proper braking procedures; and

(6) Operating practices and procedures not otherwise specified.

(b) Skills test. To obtain a passenger endorsement applicable to a specific vehicle class, an applicant must take his/her skills test in a passenger vehicle satisfying the requirements of that vehicle group as defined in § 383.91.

[76 FR 26890, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.119 Requirements for tank vehicle endorsement.

In order to obtain a tank vehicle endorsement, each applicant must have knowledge covering the following:

(a) Causes, prevention, and effects of cargo surge on motor vehicle handling;

(b) Proper braking procedures for the motor vehicle when it is empty, full, and partially full;

(c) Differences in handling of baffled/compartmented tank interiors versus non-baffled motor vehicles;

(d) Differences in tank vehicle type and construction;

(e) Differences in cargo surge for liquids of varying product densities;

(f) Effects of road grade and curvature on motor vehicle handling with filled, half-filled, and empty tanks;

(g) Proper use of emergency systems;

(h) For drivers of DOT specification tank vehicles, retest and marking requirements; and

(i) Operating practices and procedures not otherwise specified.

[76 FR 26890, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.121 Requirements for hazardous materials endorsement.

In order to obtain a hazardous materials endorsement, each applicant must have such knowledge as is required of a driver of a hazardous materials laden vehicle, from information contained in 49 CFR parts 171, 172, 173, 177, 178, and 397, on the following:

(a) Hazardous materials regulations including:

(1) Hazardous materials table;

(2) Shipping paper requirements;

(3) Marking;

(4) Labeling;

(5) Placarding requirements;

(6) Hazardous materials packaging;

(7) Hazardous materials definitions and preparation;

(8) Other regulated material (e.g., ORM-D);

(9) Reporting hazardous materials accidents; and

(10) Tunnels and railroad crossings.

(b) Hazardous materials handling including:

(1) Forbidden materials and packages;

(2) Loading and unloading materials;

(3) Cargo segregation;

(4) Passenger carrying buses and hazardous materials;

(5) Attendance of motor vehicles;

(6) Parking;

(7) Routes;

(8) Cargo tanks; and

(9) “Safe havens.”

(c) Operation of emergency equipment including:

(1) Use of equipment to protect the public;

(2) Special precautions for equipment to be used in fires;

(3) Special precautions for use of emergency equipment when loading or unloading a hazardous materials laden motor vehicle; and

(4) Use of emergency equipment for tank vehicles.

(d) Emergency response procedures including:

(1) Special care and precautions for different types of accidents;

(2) Special precautions for driving near a fire and carrying hazardous materials, and smoking and carrying hazardous materials;

(3) Emergency procedures; and

(4) Existence of special requirements for transporting Class 1.1 and 1.2 explosives.

(e) Operating practices and procedures not otherwise specified.

[76 FR 26890, May 9, 2011]

§ 383.123 Requirements for a school bus endorsement.

(a) An applicant for the school bus endorsement must satisfy the following three requirements:

(1) Qualify for passenger vehicle endorsement. Pass the knowledge and skills test for obtaining a passenger vehicle endorsement.

(2) Knowledge test. Must have knowledge covering the following topics:

(i) Loading and unloading children, including the safe operation of stop signal devices, external mirror systems, flashing lights, and other warning and passenger safety devices required for school buses by State or Federal law or regulation.

(ii) Emergency exits and procedures for safely evacuating passengers in an emergency.

(iii) State and Federal laws and regulations related to safely traversing railroad-highway grade crossings; and

(iv) Operating practices and procedures not otherwise specified.

(3) Skills test. Must take a driving skills test in a school bus of the same vehicle group (see § 383.91(a)) as the school bus applicant will drive.

(b) Exception. Knowledge and skills tests administered before September 30, 2002 and approved by FMCSA as meeting the requirements of this section, meet the requirements of paragraphs (a)(2) and (3) of this section

[76 FR 26891, May 9, 2011]