PennDOT To Roll Out Modernized CDL Testing Changes August 28, 2023 

PennDOT To Roll Out Modernized CDL Testing Changes August 28, 2023

In Pennsylvania, there will be no CDL Tests from Aug 24-27 because of upcoming changes.

To get your commercial driver’s license a student needs to pass both a knowledge theory test and a behind-the-wheel skills test.

In Feb 2022, FMCSA added new CDL training requirements (ELDT rule) that affected the knowledge theory portion because of inconsistent CDL training standards across different states.

Now, the behind-the-wheel skills test portion is changing across multiple states, including Pennsylvania, after a federal guideline pushed for modernization, called the CDL Test System Modernization Project.

These changes are happening because current CDL drivers are making common mistakes, which the government wants to prevent. The project allows states to adopt a new test that focuses on preventing common mistakes in the future.

Not all states will adopt the new test changes, but we expect Maryland, Texas, and California to make similar changes.  

In Pennsylvania, these changes will be rolled out August 28, 2023.

What happens BEFORE Aug 28 CDL Test changes?

First thing first, there will be no behind-the-wheel skills tests in Pennsylvania from Aug 24-27 because of upcoming test and CDL manual changes.

If you take a test and don’t finish before August 24th, you will have to:

  • Receive a new CDL permit
    • Pass another driver instruction permit test
  • Take knowledge theory test again, and
  • Take the updated behind-the-wheel skills test

So, what exactly is changing on the behind-the-wheel skills test?

Pennsylvania’s 2023 modernized CDL testing changes

The behind-the-wheel skills test is separated into three sections. These are:

  1. Vehicle Inspection test (NEW UPDATES)
  2. Basic Control Skills test (NEW UPDATES)
  3. Road Test (remain the same)

According to the 2019 modernization project framework, it looks like much of the test scoring process should remain the same.

However, in Pennsylvania, students can automatically fail if the hydraulic brake check is not performed correctly during the vehicle inspection portion of the test.

The biggest changes come from new backing and skill maneuvers, giving drivers more opportunities to fail the test.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the changes.


Are you a company and don’t want to train drivers yourself? Let CNS do it for you with our Company Contract Training! Learn more or give  us a call at 717-496-9145 or email us at support@cnstrains.com.


Vehicle Inspection Test:

In the new vehicle inspection test there will be fewer items for the driver to be tested on but focused on safety critical items.

The new Driver’s Manual will include detailed descriptions and why it is important to inspect these items. Drivers will be required to describe what they are inspecting AND may include why they are inspecting it. PennDOT is not pushing the why in their new test.

There is also a four-part Air Brakes check, revised hydraulic brake check, and revised coupling system criteria.

As we mentioned earlier, students can now automatically fail if the hydraulic brake check is not performed correctly, so be sure to have this down.

At CNS Driver Training Center, we will still train the entire pre-trip inspection process to make sure drivers are ready on day 1 after getting their CDL while highlighting what you need to know to pass the test.  

DOWNLOAD THE NEW VEHICLE INSPECTION CHECKLIST: Class A, Class B/C, Passenger/School Bus

Basic Controls Skills Test:

Previously, there were three types of backing maneuvers being tested. These included straight-line backing, offset to the right or left backing, and the last is chosen to be either an alley dock or one of the parallel parking maneuvers.

In August, there will be four maneuvers’ drivers will be tested for with a much smaller footprint. These are:

Forward Stop: You will demonstrate your ability to stop at a designated point. Drive forward through the alley to stop at a designated point. Driver forward through the alley and stop with the vehicle’s front bumper in the box without going past the front of the alley. You must stop only once. When you have stopped, set your parking brake, shift to neutral and sound the horn.

This will be more difficult as the driver will pull forward and must stop within a three-foot box and cannot get out and look.  This was added as a lot of drivers were having issues knowing where their front bumper was, causing many to bump or crash into things.

Straight-line backing: This will stay the same as before.

Forward Offset Tracking: You will demonstrate your ability to maneuver a vehicle around other objects while moving forward. Drive forward and steer to the left through the opening. Then steer to the right around the cone at the front of the alley, tracking the right rear tire between the cone and the line without hitting any cones. You may safely exit the vehicle only once to check around the vehicle. Stop your vehicle when you are parallel to the outer boundary, prior to or at the set of cones at the far end of the exercise. When you have stopped, set your parking brake, shift to neutral and sound the horn.

Reverse Offset Backing: You will demonstrate your ability to offset back and park a vehicle at the end of the alley. Starting parallel with the outer boundary, offset back into the alley, bringing the rear of your vehicle within three feet of the rear of the alley. Stop with the rear bumper in the box. Your vehicle must be straight within the alley when completed. You may not go beyond the outer boundary line. You are allowed two free pull-ups and may exit the vehicle a maximum of two times to check around the vehicle during this exercise. Set your parking brake, shift to neutral and sound your horn when you complete the exercise.

Again, this will be more difficult as the back bumper must be inside a three-foot box. This is basically a mix of parallel backing and offset backing.

Does this change ELDT requirements from 2022?

On February 7, 2022, FMCSA placed new CDL requirements on entry-level driver training (ELDT).

The ELDT rules require an entry-level driver to complete a prescribed program of theory and behind-the-wheel instruction provided by a school or other entity listed on FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry (TPR) before taking the CDL test.

DOT requires 31 theory course topics instead of the original four knowledge topics, which will be accompanied by 19 mandated behind-the-wheel (BTW) skills, that will be tested with vehicle inspection skills at the state department of motor vehicles.

The new CDL test does not change any ELDT course requirements but will highlight certain portions for what a driver is looking at during the vehicle inspection test and highlight more real-world issues in the backing and skills maneuvers.

Is the ELDT program working? Find out in our recent article.

Receive Best-In-Class CDL Training at CNS Driver Training Center

Now is the time to receive 1-on-1 CDL training with CNS Driver Training Center and get your CDL license.

Learn more about all levels of truck driver training, testing and CDL permit test preparation that we offer at our CNS Driver Training Center.

We at DTC will be fully prepared to help new drivers pass their CDL test as we can teach you these exact skills and be ready for the test when it happens.

If you have questions about our CDL training packages, give us a call at 717-496-9145 or email us at support@cnstrains.com.


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