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Pennsylvania truck drivers' skill tests measure key abilities

Commercial truck drivers have to take skills tests to demonstrate that they can perform vehicle inspections. These tests also help show that they can safely operate a semi-truck on the roads. Without demonstrating their ability to safely operate a big rig, drivers may be more likely to cause damaging truck accidents and serious injuries.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, anyone applying for a commercial driver's license or looking to renew an existing license will likely have to take a new commercial driver skills test. Third party testing centers not run by the DOT directly will not be immediately required to administer the new test, though they will be required to comply by mid-September of this year. The new test will be comprised of three sections: the vehicle inspection, the basic controls skill test - also known as the backing maneuvers section - and the on the road skills section.

The vehicle inspection portion tests the commercial truck driver's knowledge of the vehicle they will be operating and whether they are able to adequately discern from a proper inspection that the vehicle is road worthy and can be operated in a safe and effective manner.

The second portion test the parking ability of the truck driver and the final portion tests the truck driver's ability to safely operate the truck on the road. Given the huge discrepancy in weight between commercial trucks and most other vehicles on the road, it is important that truck drivers are properly trained and licensed.

On all types of Pennsylvania roadways, damage and loss of life can result from an unqualified truck driver being behind the wheel. By subjecting commercial truck driver to skills tests one can hope semi truck accidents will be minimized.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, "Commercial Driver Skill Test," Accessed August 10, 2015

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