Maryland to offer ‘modernized’ CDL skills test

August 16, 2022

Ryan Witkowski

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Commercial driver’s license test takers in Maryland will soon see some changes to the skills portion of the exam.

On Aug. 10, the Maryland Department of Transportation announced they would be implementing a “new, modernized CDL skills test.” The new skills test will be administered at Motor Vehicle Administration offices statewide – as well as at third-party partner testing sites – beginning Aug. 22.

The biggest change to the CDL skills test involves the pre-trip inspection component of the exam. The new standard reduces the number of items from over 100 to around 50, depending on the vehicle. According to MDOT, the new inspection process “focuses on knowledge and safety and contains items a driver would typically experience on the job.”

In addition to changes to the inspection portion of the test, applicants will also notice changes to the basic control portion of the exam. CDL applicants will be tested on four maneuvers to demonstrate control:

  • Forward stop
  • Straight-line backing
  • Forward offset tracking
  • Reverse offset backing

Chrissy Nizer, MDOT administrator and highway safety representative to Gov. Larry Hogan, said the updated test will streamline the process of obtaining a CDL, while maintaining an emphasis on safety.

“Technology has evolved and improved since the last time the CDL test was reviewed,” Nizer said in a statement. “The new test evaluates an applicant’s knowledge based on updated vehicle features and focuses on key skills needed to safely operate a commercial vehicle. The modernized test is another way the MDOT (Motor Vehicle Administration) is enhancing its services for CDL applicants while prioritizing safety.”

The updated skills test was part of a three-state pilot program implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2021. Maryland – along with after New Hampshire and Virginia – participated in the pilot program. On March 1, 2022, FMCSA granted the three states a multiple-year exemption allowing them to continue to use the revised version of the CDL skills test.

In addition to the changes to the skills test, the state is also making an adjustment to the expiration time for commercial driver’s licenses. CDLs in Maryland – with the exception of hazmat endorsements – will now have an eight-year expiration date. This is an increase from the previous five-year expiration.

The state is encouraging applicants scheduled to take the test after Aug. 22 to review and study the updated commercial driver license field test manual. LL

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