The driving section of the testing is a comprehensive check of your skills by a KS DOR examiner, and is made up of three parts including:
- Basic operating skills test
- Basic driving skills test
You will be tested on your knowledge of the vehicle, your pre-trip inspection, your basic maneuvering skills and your overall driving skills. You must pass each section of testing in order to move on to the next section. If you fail your pre-trip inspection, you will not be allowed to continue with the basic skills or the on-road testing.
In the pre-trip inspection, you will be required to show the examiner what you are looking for and why you are looking for it. This inspection is very comprehensive, covering every system or component on, in, under and around the truck and trailer unit that you will use for your driving test, including:
- Fluids, belts, and other items under the hood
- The truck cab, including emergency equipments, dials, gauges, steering, brakes and clutch
- Connections including hitches, air lines, hydraulics, trailer axel placement or fifth wheel coupling
- Tires, wheels, brakes, fuel tank
- Tie-downs, tarps, trailer sides, rigging, trailer frame, and trailer doors
- Cab mirrors, seat, steering, clutch, brakes, emergency equipment, cab doors, communications equipment, and gauges
Basic Skills Test
In the basic skills portion of your driving test, you will be asked to perform the following basic maneuvering skills:
Stay inside the vehicle at all times while you are performing these basic skills. Do not get out of the driver's seat to check on your progress.
In this section, you will go out to a pre-determined route so that the examiner may check your driving skills. The areas covered in this test will be:
- Urban and rural straight driving
- Urban and rural lane changing
- Driving on curves, upgrades and downgrades
Remember to check for a clearance height indicator sign before you pass under a bridge; the examiner may ask you for the clearance height number after you've passed under.
If you are planning to drive a school bus in Kansas, you must now have a separate "S" endorsement on your CDL.
Check the Kansas license exam stations. You won't need an appointment for your testing, but not every exam station is equipped to handle CDL testing, so call in advance to see if the office you want to use has a CDL examiner.
Fees for a Kansas CDL are as follows:
- Commercial Class license: $25
- Commercial Class license with motorcycle endorsement: $34
- Doubles/triples endorsement: $10
- Passenger bus endorsement: $10
- Bulk liquid tank endorsement: $10
- School bus endorsement: $10
All new applicants, and as of May 31, 2005 all renewing hazmat endorsement holders, are required to undergo fingerprinting and a hazardous material threat assessment investigation conducted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA). In order to allow applicants and renewing holders be fingerprinted, the KDOR has made arrangements in several offices, according to the KDOR Web site.
You must begin the renewal process at least 30 days before your hazmat endorsement is due to expire in order to allow time for the fingerprinting to be processed and for the investigation to take place.
Hazmat Investigation Fees
The fingerprinting and the HazMat background investigation are covered under a single fee of $95.
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 was designed to improve highway safety. Its purpose was to ensure that drivers of commercial vehicles are qualified to drive them, and to remove unsafe drivers from the highways.
The Act didn't require federal driver licensing?states still license commercial drivers?but it established minimum standards that states must meet when issuing commercial driver's licenses (CDLs). It required states to upgrade their existing programs to follow the new federal standards.
Before the Act was passed, many commercial vehicle drivers operated vehicles they were not properly trained on or qualified to drive. Even in states that had separate license classes, drivers were not necessarily tested in the types of vehicles they would be driving. States must now test commercial drivers according to federal standards, to ensure that drivers know how to operate the trucks or buses they intend to drive.
The Act also made it illegal to have more than one driver's license. You can hold a regular or commercial driver's license, but not both. You can have one license from the state you reside in, but not from any other states. In the past, bad drivers could more easily hide their driving histories by getting several licenses. Today, all the states are connected to a national database to check driver histories.
To be eligible for a CDL, you must have a clean driving record. Federal regulations require you to pass a physical exam every two years. You must be able to read and speak English well enough to read road signs, prepare reports, and communicate with the public and with law enforcement.
The Act established three separate classes of commercial driver's licenses. Every state issues licenses in these categories:
- Class A: Any combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of 26,001 or more pounds, provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
- Class B: Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.
- Class C: Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.
Many states make exceptions for farm vehicles, snow removal vehicles, fire and emergency vehicles, and some military vehicles.
In the interest of public safety on the highways, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require interstate commercial drivers to be medically fit to operate their vehicles safely and competently. You are required to have a physical exam and carry a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) medical certificate if:
- You operate a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW) of 4,536 kilograms (10,001 pounds) or more in interstate commerce.
- You operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, in interstate commerce.
- You operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers, for direct compensation, beyond 75 air miles from your regular work-reporting location, in interstate commerce.
- You transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placards, in interstate commerce.
You must carry a current copy of your medical examination certificate with you when you drive. Residents of Mexico or Canada who drive in the United States can be certified by doctors in their countries, provided they meet the U.S. requirements.
There are no federal standards in place for on-the-road commercial driver training. The government only requires that you take and pass your CDL knowledge (written) and skills (driving) tests. Longer-combination-vehicle (LCV) drivers must receive training in driver wellness, driver qualifications, hours of service, and whistleblower protection.
Your state's commercial driver's manual is a good place to learn basic information, but you will need to be professionally trained to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
In order to pass your driving skills tests, you will need to learn how to inspect vehicles before driving, learn how to couple and uncouple tractors and trailers, and have plenty of practice driving. This includes driving in different conditions and on different road surfaces, turning, parking, backing up, and braking.
Many motor carriers train their employees, while other drivers take courses at private driving schools, vocational or technical schools, and community colleges. Individual states often approve or certify training courses.
The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) has set minimum standards for training curriculums and certifies driver training courses that meet industry and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) guidelines. Many employers require their drivers to take PTDI-approved training.
The TSA developed this program to carry out the USA PATRIOT Act mandate and protect citizens from the potential threat of terrorists using hazmat cargo. The requirement is a result of the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56, Section 1012) and the Safe Explosives Act (Public Law 107-296, Section 1121-1123), ARS § 28-3103(A)(2), and 49 CFR 1572.
If the TSA disqualifies you because of your background, you can appeal their finding or seek a waiver. However, if you are found guilty of a disqualifying crime, you must declare any disqualifying conditions and surrender your hazmat endorsement (if you already have it) to your state's department of motor vehicles or other licensing agency.
According to the TSA, background checks take between one and eight weeks to complete. You will be notified by mail whether you are approved. If you are approved, you can then go to your state's licensing authority (KDOR) to complete your application process. If you are denied, you can appeal or seek a waiver.
According to the FMCSA, hazmat endorsements must be renewed at least every five years. However, your state might require renewal more often. You will need a background check each time you renew your hazmat endorsement.
Conviction of any of the following crimes will disqualify you from being eligible for a hazmat endorsement:
- Assault with intent to murder
- Kidnapping or hostage-taking
- Rape or aggravated sexual abuse
- RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) violations
- Unlawful possession, use, sale, distribution, or manufacture of an explosive device, firearm, or other weapon
- Distribution of, intent to distribute, possession, or importation of a controlled substance
- Dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation, including identity fraud
- Crimes involving a severe transportation security incident
- Improper transportation of a hazardous material
- Conspiracy or attempt to commit any of these crimes