The DOT Road Test (Part 2)


The purpose of the road test is to evaluate the driver’s ability to drive safely

The Driver’s Road Test

One key requirement and responsibility of an employer is for their CMV driver to pass a driver’s road test or equivalent.

While the regulations permit a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holder not to be road tested, there are a number of reasons this step should never be skipped.

  • The driver may lack experience in the type of vehicle driven. For example, a driver may have used his Class A CDL to drive a hot-shot combination and has little or no experience in driving a tractor-trailer.
  •  The driver may simply have no driving experience. For example, some foreign nationals may have had a drive’s license in their country, but have had little actual lifetime driving experience.
  • The driver’s skills may be stale, Perhaps he or she was unemployed or on workman’s comp and has not driven for a long while. For larger trucks, not driving more than six months can be a long time, and a driver could need a refresher course to get back into commercial driving.
  • The driver may have injured himself since his last DOT physical and is not physically able to drive.

The list goes on. I can cite example after example of drivers who should have never been allowed to drive, but were able to fall through cracks in the system: drivers with missing limbs, color blindness, hard of hearing, suffering from psychosis, etc.

It is always a best business practice to road test every new hire using a standardized checklist or rating form. Most insurance companies expect you are doing this, as well.

Studies Show . . .

Research by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) on Driver Selection Tests & Measurements has found top motor carriers use multiple driver selection tools, with emphasis on driver performance testing of every applicant. TRB’s case studies included companies using:

  • Cutting-edge procedures as a driving simulator with an experienced safety professional monitoring the driver’s performance.
  • A standardized, 3-hour driving road and range test, that can result in up to a 50% failure rate.
  • Driver observations by no less than three managers, who each take notes and write up their observations, concerns, and conclusions.

“Driving is a habit. People cannot change their habits,
even when they are being observed.” A person can mask
driving habits for 10 minutes or so, but not longer. TRB Report


Road testing of drivers is not the only driver selection tool, but it is often one of the main selection tools. Other related best practices dictate that motor carriers should:

  • Inform driver candidates as much as possible about their driver requirements and any specific hiring procedures.
  • Maintain a detailed assessment file for each driver.
  • Requiring a probationary period for new hires.
  • Establish written hiring standards, that include standardized road testing.

Who you decide to bring on board to operate one of your vehicles is one of the most important business decisions you ever will make.

Thank you for reading this.

Forms . . . Record of Road Testing (MODOT)

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