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The quest for a CDL Part VI: It’s go time

cdl_testIt’s been a while since my last update. Almost 3 months to be exact.

The quest isn’t over, it’s just been in a holding pattern.

Admit it. Some of you figured I failed the road test (at least once) and decided not to post an update, right? Well, that’s not the case.

I’ve been driving. A lot. See here. And here. There’s more but you get the idea.

By this time next Friday, hopefully, I will shed my training wheels and join the ranks of full CDL holders nationwide. I’ve made the appointment at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Selma, Ala. All my ducks are in a row, I think.

I’ve logged probably close to 1,000 miles on the highway since early August – all of it in a forward gear.

The quest for a CDL Part V: You gotta be trippin'

The quest for a CDL Part V: You gotta be trippin’

It's amazing a lot of you can knock this out in 15 minutes.

Ryder safety guru Tom Fallon will make his triumphant return to Alabama for three solid days of pre-tripping, backing and driving. He’ll be my co-pilot on day four on the drive to the DMV in Selma and hopefully, a few hours later, I’ll be his most recent success story.

I’ll be honest. I plan to spend most of my last three days of training in reverse. I have no qualms whatsoever going forward. In the last three months, I’ve driven a semi in Seattle and Las Vegas. Driving among motorists doesn’t phase me. I can go forward like a boss.

However, the prospect of having to back up and be judged scares the living hell out of me. Maybe I’m making more out of this than necessary. I can back a boat trailer, but I have a fairly clear line of sight. Looking out the rear glass next week is a non-option.

I’m also pretty good at backing while hanging my head out of an open driver’s side door, but I imagine that’s probably frowned upon.

I don’t remember being this nervous when I took my driver’s exam 20-plus years ago. I was probably too young and dumb to be nervous, and a full year of practice under my belt was the shot of steely confidence an arrogant 16 year old me needed.

But it’s time for a Big Boy license. Gone is the teenage arrogance that had me convinced I could do no wrong. It’s been replaced by a sense of practicality that fully realizes I could screw this up.

We’re in the home stretch and with a little luck and a lot of practice, I hope to see you all out on the highway before Thanksgiving.

I’ll continuously blog my “quest for a CDL” as I navigate through the process, and I hope you’ll find it a humorous journey from the prospective of a guy who just wants to learn to drive – legally. Part I can be found here. Part II can be found here, Part III here, Part IV here, and Part V here

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Jason Cannon is the Equipment Editor for Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive, and is a Class A CDL holder. Reach him at jasoncannon@randallreilly.com.