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PennDOT Announces Modernized Commercial Driver's License Skills Test

School Buses

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is set to introduce a revamped version of the commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills test. Starting August 28, 2023, the updated test will reflect advancements in vehicle technology and remove outdated requirements, aiming to serve CDL applicants better while maintaining safety standards.


PENNSYLVANIA - In a move to keep pace with evolving vehicle technology and improve the testing process for commercial drivers, PennDOT has announced implementing a new version of the CDL skills test. This change will be effective from August 28, 2023, across all PennDOT Driver License Centers offering CDL skills tests and third-party CDL driving skill testers.

The primary objective behind the update is to ensure CDL drivers possess the necessary knowledge and skills for safe driving. The revised test will eliminate outdated requirements while incorporating new technological advancements.

PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll emphasized the importance of the update, stating, “Governor Shapiro has made it clear that the Commonwealth should help people succeed, not get in the way. As someone with a CDL, I recognize how vehicle technology has advanced, especially in commercial vehicles. This modernized test is a testament to PennDOT's commitment to enhancing its services for CDL applicants, all while ensuring the safety of school bus passengers.”

A notable change in the test is the removal of the “Under the Hood requirement.” As of August 28, aspiring school bus drivers will no longer be required to identify engine components during the CDL test. This adjustment was facilitated by a waiver extension from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), allowing states to modify the CDL test for those seeking a school bus endorsement. PennDOT will utilize this waiver to exclude the “under the hood” requirement for school bus drivers until November 27, 2024.

Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services, Kara Templeton, commented on the change, “Knowing the components of a school bus engine does not impact a school bus driver’s safe driving skills. By implementing this FMCSA waiver, we aim to encourage more drivers to apply for the school bus endorsement.”

The revamped skills test will evaluate applicants' understanding of contemporary vehicle features while emphasizing essential skills for safely operating a commercial vehicle. The test will encompass a pre-trip inspection, basic control, and a road test.

Significant changes have been made to the Vehicle Inspection and Basic Control Skills tests. Post-change, applicants might be asked to identify up to 90 different components on the vehicle, a reduction from the previous requirement of over 100 items. A checklist may also be introduced as a memory aid for the inspection test. The basic skills segment will necessitate applicants to showcase four control maneuvers.

For those who have completed parts of the test before August 28, PennDOT advises them to continue preparing using the current Commercial Driver License Manual. However, applicants scheduled to take the test post-August 28 should refer to the updated manual.