Automatic Fail! Recognize And Avoid These 6 Driving Mistakes

Posted on: 7 November 2016

There's no worse feeling than spending weeks or even months preparing for your CDL road test, only to fail it for something you didn't quite notice you were (or weren't) doing. In fact, it's not unusual for drivers to fail their first or even second CDL road test due to simple and easily preventable errors made during the test. If you want to ace your road test on the next try, you'll want to recognize and avoid the following driving mistakes.

Nailing the Curb

It might seem like a minor and even harmless mistake, but this is one of the prime no-nos of driving any large vehicle that requires a CDL. Scrubbing against a curb can happen when taking a tight turn or while parallel parking your vehicle.

What makes this such a big deal is the sheer size and length of your vehicle. It doesn't take much for a tractor-trailer's tires to climb over a curb, and when that happens, it can pose a potentially deadly threat to nearby pedestrians.

If you're taking your CDL test during the winter, remember that some instructors may treat a snowbank as if it were a curb. So if you brush a wheel against a snowbank, consider your test over and done (unless the instructor says otherwise).

Rolling Backwards Before Taking Off

During your training, you should have mastered the art of taking off from a stop without rolling backwards, especially if you're on a steep incline. Rolling backwards during the test tells the instructor that you still have a lot to learn before you're ready to earn a passing grade.

So what's the big deal about rolling backwards? Turns out no one likes having a tractor-trailer's rear bumper planted on their front hood. And that's just the least that could happen during a rollback.


In recent studies involving large truck and bus crashes, speeding was a common factor in crashes resulting in fatal injury. Breaking the speed limit can have serious consequences for your driving privileges and your livelihood. If your instructor suspects or finds out you're driving past the assigned speed limit for the road you're on, you can expect your driving test to come to a premature end.  

Forgetting Your Turn Signal

No matter what vehicle you drive, you should always make your lane-changing or turning intentions known by using your turn signals. Forgetting to do so during a CDL test could result in an automatic failure. Forgetting to do so when you're finally out on the open road could result in an accident or worse. The best way to keep this road test failure from happening is to make using your turn signals as much of an ingrained habit as possible.

Backing Up Too Far

Backing up too far in a parking space or a dock can lead to a damaged truck, potentially damaged goods, and a host of other potentially expensive issues. So it's no wonder that many instructors consider hitting the cones or backboard used to denote a docking area to be an automatic fail.

Whether you're performing a 90-degree alley docking or simply backing up in a straight line, you'll want to pay attention to what's in your mirrors and angle the truck based on the current position of your trailer's tandem wheels.

Not Checking Your Mirrors

Paying attention to your surroundings is crucial when piloting any large truck. That means using your truck's mirrors to keep tabs on nearby vehicles and obstacles. If you forget to check your mirrors before changing lanes or as you're backing up to a docking area or parking space, your instructor may decide to call it a day right then and there.

For more information, contact a CDL testing location like the Center For Transportation Safety.