Preparing For Your Test and Acquiring a Commercial Drivers License in Alaska
Applying for your Commercial Drivers license in Alaska has several steps and if you are choosing a career in the field of commercial driving it is also mandatory. It is important to know which type of truck you wish to drive and what materials you will potentially be carrying before beginning the application process. In Alaska if you wish to haul certain materials, or drive specific types of commercial vehicles you will need to apply for endorsements at the time you apply for the standard CDL. Alaskan Department of Motor Vehicles has certain requirements that you must meet in order to apply for your CDL. Your first step is to be certain that you meet these requirements:
- Provide proof of your birthday and photo identity
- Must be at least 21 years old at the time of application if you plan to drive a commercial vehicle outside of Alaska
- Must be at least 19 years of age in order to drive within Alaskan borders
- Held a valid drivers license for at least one year with a clean drivers record
- Pass a vision and hearing test at the DMV
- Provide proof of citizenship with a social security card
- Have a valid medical card
In addition to these requirements you must visit your physician and have a physical exam. Your physician must fill out the required federal medical form stating that you are in good health.
Preparing for your CDL tests
Your first task is to acquire the Alaska Commercial Drivers License Manual and study the chapters. Once you are confident you have an understanding of what is required to be a safe commercial driver, you can apply for your CDIP or commercial drivers license permit. This test is similar to the final test you will take at a later step. Study the Alaska commercial driver’s license manual and take a practice test to assure you pass your permit test the first time. This test will cover some of the basics for driving a commercial vehicle such as:
- How communicate with other drivers on the road
- How to see and avoid road hazards
- Skid control and recovery
- Accident procedures
- Maintaining the legal speed and keeping distance between other drivers
- Basic handling of your commercial vehicle
- How to safely perform the safety inspection
Once you have passed your permit test, you will be issued you CDIP and be allowed to practice in a commercial vehicle under supervision.
Take a Commercial Drivers License Training Course
The Professional Truck Drivers Institute or PTDI has set minimum educational requirements for driver’s training in Alaska. While the state of Alaska does not require commercial drivers license applicants to attend drivers training it is recommended to learn the basic skills you will need to pass your road test. There are several third party educational schools that offer these courses, as well as community colleges. During the training course you will learn to:
- Inspect your truck to be sure it passes the safety test.
- Learn how to couple and uncouple tracks and trailers
- Practice maneuvering your truck in several different types of weather
- Learn how to maintain control over your rig
- Gain experience on the road driving your commercial vehicle
Taking your Written, Skills and Road Tests
Study your Alaska Commercial Drivers Test Manual again before taking the written test to assure you are ready to pass on the first try. The test is broken down in parts, depending on the type of CDL you are applying for. The first section is a general question area for your standard CDL and will cover some of the basics including:
- How to properly handle an emergency while driving
- Dealing with other drivers on the road
- Driving in adverse weather conditions, particularly heavy snow and ice
- What do when skidding
- Basic control of your commercial vehicle
- Laws regarding drinking, drugs and driving a commercial vehicle
- The proper steps for a safety inspection
The second portion of your written test is determined by what type of commercial vehicle you intend to operation on the road. The class in which it is categorized and other special determinants such as brake systems will determine which part of the test you will be required to take.
If you need a particular endorsement you will also be required at this time to take the skills tests required for that endorsement. You must pass all parts of your CDL test and skills tests in order to continue on to the road test so be sure to study and know the material ahead of time.
The Road Test
While the state of Alaska’s Department of Motor Vehicles must administer the written test, you may take your road test through a third party source. In the major city of Anchorage, the CDL tests are given through the Center for Employment Education or CCE. For all other areas you can contact your local DMV for a list of third party testers near you. The test is complied of three parts:
- Pre-trip inspection. This is the safety inspection you must perform on your commercial truck before starting a trip.
- Basic skills test. This part of the test is done in a testing yard, and covers turns, backing up and parking. As well as testing your ability to brake and maneuver.
- Driving skills test. This portion is done on the road with actual drivers similar to your driver’s license test.
Once you have passed your written, skills and road tests you will be issued your temporary CDL. The photo CDL will arrive in the mail within 90 days.