Friday, January 2, 2015

We Passed Our Road Tests

Friday was the day we've had hanging over our heads for months, our road test for the Texas Class B CDL. This is different from a “real” CDL. We cannot use this license to actually drive a commercial rig. So in effect it is a "non-commercial commercial driver's license." Makes no sense, I know, but this is Texas and it's how it's done. Since our motorhome is over 26,000 pounds and we are Texas residents we need the Class B license to legally drive it. If we had remained NJ residents we would have needed no special license.

If anyone is reading this and wants information on the test, here it is. We took the test in Laredo. Apparently there is some variation in the test depending on where the test is taken. Some test sites (like Livingston, TX) are a little easier on you--we have heard that they don't require you to parallel-park, for instance. Laredo did require it, but they do not currently use cones, which made it easier for the parallel-parking test. In six months they will use cones and they will also require a walk around test which includes opening up the engine and knowing where the fluids go, and where the belts and hoses are. They did not ask us to do that today, although I have heard that some test sites do.

Bob had his test first, and performed the air brake test, for which we had really studied. DPS (Department of Public Safety, which is the TX DMV) used a slightly simplified version which was easier to remember. For my test the examiner said that since Bob had performed the air brakes test and the system worked fine, that all I had was run through it verbally. Piece of cake!

I backed up fine, but became a little flustered with the parallel parking portion and forgot to honk my horn and turn on the flashers. Points off my score. I did ok with it otherwise.

Then I went on the road. Both Bob and I lost points on left turns because we didn't choose the far right turn lane. Since we were unfamiliar with the Laredo roads it was hard to pick the right lane under pressure, but we understand why the correct lane is important. It gives you more room to make the turn.

I felt most comfortable with the driving around town portion of the test, interestingly enough. It really helped that the DPS inspector had a very calm voice. All the DPS people were extremely kind and helpful; NJ DMV workers could take a lesson from them!

For some reason, during Bob’s test the warning bell rang the whole time indicating that the leveling jacks were not all the way up. Clearly a sensor malfunction as they had been up on the ride to the test site, so Bob just kept going. After the inspector left the rig Bob was able to get the sensor to stop making noise. During my test the inspector asked ME what the red light on the dash had indicated, and I gave him a vague answer. He said it was not part of the test but just wanted to know. I didn’t want to tell him about the jacks thing—had he known what was going on he would have failed us both before we even started our tests.

In the end, we both passed—YAY! I was helped by some suggestions from Bob on things he had been marked down on, right before I took my test. This helped a lot and saved me some points. I scored an 86%--not bad for someone who has been on the road for such a short time! A lot of credit should go to Glyn, our instructor at RV Driving School.  Thanks Glyn!

After the test we headed northwest to Del Rio. Through rain. And mud. And more mud. I have never seen so much mud. The roads were slick with it, to the point of not being able to see the lines on the road. It made for a hairy ride, that’s for sure! And the car ended up being totally coated.

By the time we arrived in Del Rio and were settled in to our campsite we were exhausted and ready for a celebratory glass of wine and a hot meal.

We will take our time leaving tomorrow--heading to Fort Stockton.

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