Air Brake Basics

Air brake systems use compressed air to apply pressure to the brake pads to stop a vehicle. By contrast, a hydraulic braking system uses brake fluid instead of air. An air system is considered a better option for large vehicles such as semi-trucks. In order to drive a vehicle with these brakes, you need to pass the air brakes portion of the written commercial driver’s license (CDL) test and you must take the skills test using a vehicle with an air brake system.

Air Brake Restrictions

In addition to the standard CDL, drivers can have endorsements or restrictions placed on their license. An endorsement allows a driver to operate specialized types of vehicles. For example, you can earn endorsements for long combination vehicles (LCVs), hazardous materials (hazmat), and tanker trucks. Restrictions, on the other hand, indicate that a CDL holder cannot operate a certain type of vehicle. There is no “air brake endorsement.” Instead, there are two different types of restrictions which are removed from your license if you meet the proper requirements.

The first type of restriction is a “Z” restriction. If this is on your license, you cannot operate a vehicle that uses air brakes, whether this is a full or partial system. You will have this restriction if you failed the air brakes portion of the written exam, failed the air brake inspection during your skills test, or took the skills test with a vehicle that did not have this system. The other type is an “L” restriction. This prevents you from driving vehicles with a full air system, although you can still operate vehicles with partial systems. This restriction will be placed on your license if you take the skills test with a vehicle that only has a partial air system.

What Appears on the Air Brake Test

The written test covers material from Section 5 of the CDL manual.

Topics include:

System Parts

There are many different parts of an air brake system and you will need to understand what these are and how they work. The CDL manual describes 16 different parts in detail. Some of these are the compressor, safety valve, and parking brake controls.

Dual Air Brake Systems

In most cases, commercial vehicles use a dual system. This includes two separate systems. One operates the front axle brakes while the other operates the rear axle brakes. Both systems use one set of controls.

Air Brake Inspection

To pass this portion of the CDL test, you must understand how to perform a pre-trip inspection for a vehicle with air brakes. This material appears on the written test and you must also perform all necessary steps during the skills test.

Using Air Brakes

The final subsection of this portion of the CDL manual discusses how to use air brakes in different situations. For example, you should know how to handle normal stops and emergency stops, as well as what the proper stopping distance is.

Earn Your CDL

At Phoenix Truck Driving School, you can earn your CDL and we cover material from the air brakes test so you will not have a restriction on your license.

To learn more about our truck driver training programs, contact us today.

What a Truck Dispatcher Does

Many different individuals and organizations work together to safely transport freight. A truck dispatcher communicates with the driver, motor carrier, and receiving company to help the process go smoothly. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that loads arrive on time and undamaged. If you choose to become a truck driver after earning your commercial driver’s license (CDL), you will need to understand what a dispatcher does and how to work with them effectively. Becoming a dispatcher is also an option. Although a CDL isn’t required for this job, it can help you stand out from other candidates.

More information about truck dispatchers:

What are the duties of a truck dispatcher?

Truck dispatchers manage schedules for drivers in their fleet and assign loads. They communicate with the various individuals and groups involved in freight transport. Their goal is to ensure the delivery arrives on time and undamaged. They also access driving logs to check the progress of a driver on their route. If there are any problems, the dispatcher will work with the driver to find a solution. They will also update the customer as needed.

What do you need to become a truck dispatcher?

Most dispatcher jobs require a high school diploma or equivalent. You need to have good computer skills and be able to communicate effectively. Although it is not necessary to have experience in the trucking industry, this can be very helpful. Dispatchers who know more about truck driving and who understand what drivers experience on the road are often able to build better relationships.

Who do dispatchers work for?

Dispatchers may work directly for one motor carrier and only manage their freight. Others may choose to do freelance work with multiple different companies.

How do you work with your dispatcher as a driver?

Your relationship with your dispatcher can have a large impact on your trucking career. To be successful as a driver and avoid stress, it’s a good idea to learn how to work effectively with your truck dispatcher.

Some tips:

Understand Each Other’s Jobs

One of the best ways to get along with your dispatcher is to have a clear understanding of each other’s jobs and the challenges you both face. As a driver, you can politely communicate with your dispatcher if they are making demands that you know are unrealistic given your experience.

Communicate Effectively

It is inevitable that you will encounter unexpected situations as a truck driver. When these delay your delivery, communication is key to help the dispatcher know what each of you can do to resolve the situation. You should also communicate clearly with your dispatcher before your trip to make sure you both understand the planned schedule, what possible concerns may arise, and any other factors that could have an impact.

Know Who to Ask for Help

Your dispatcher is likely one of the individuals you will work with most as a trucker. However, there are others that you can ask for help if you and your dispatcher are unable to reach an understanding for a specific situation. One example is your safety supervisor. This person ensures that your motor carrier is following safety regulations. You can reach out to them if your dispatcher is asking you to drive while you are tired or perform any other actions that are not safe.

Start Your Trucking Career

If you are interested in becoming a trucker or want to learn more about the industry before becoming a dispatcher, Phoenix Truck Driving School can help. We offer accelerated CDL training that can get you on the road in as little as four weeks.

To learn more about our CDL classes, contact us today.