My CDL is a B with tanker, air brake, and HAZMAT. It will cost me a a little under a couple grand to upgrade to my A using a truck driving service (basically renting his truck, a few lessons to get familiar with his truck @ $175 a lesson and a testing fee of $250, plus Motor Vehicle Admin fees) and I just don't have the coin yet. The skills and road test are a piece of cake in my opinion. The hard part is having to do the pre-trip over again each time you want to upgrade your license (I would have to do it again to get a Passenger endorsement, which means I need to find a bus to rent). Each tester (in Maryland) has their own way of wanting the pre-trip done and NOBODY I have ever heard of passes on the first try. Ever. Even if you already have your CDL. I had one guy in training that had to do it 3 times before he passed, and basically did the same pre-trip each time. My point being that I agree with the thread starter, the CDL testing is very arbitrary. They seem to be more focused on putting "safe truck" on the road then "safe drivers" to drive them.
Sorry to ramble.
I got my class B maybe 25 years ago. Took it in a 6 wheel dump, went to a 3rd party test site, i was probably done in an hour. Now at the same testing site its 3 hrs. I took my class A a year or 2 after in a mack 10 wheeler with a 20 ton tag along trailer. I had to take this test through the state, and a state trooper is the tester. Pre trip lasted about 7 minutes, i got about to the front rear and the guy said to me, "its really apparent you know what you are doing here (which i do)....trailers the same, right?" Off we went on the parking lot stuff, backing into stalls, etc, no issues there. headed off to the road test. Guy was super cool, we got to talking about snowmobiles and upstate property.......i could have run over a bus load of nuns at this point and he would not have cared. He said they all had to rotate around to different tests, and he liked doing class A the best, since most were upgrades from a class B. Most people in this situation knew what they were doing. He said doing cars was the worst. He said trying to test someone that couldnt speak english was a real issue.
We encourage out employees to get a CDL, and we pay them more if they have one. When the time comes, we usually put the last person we sent through it with them to go over the pre trip. My pre trip would get things done, but its not exactly how its done now.
CDL drivers are really hard to come by these days. And GOOD CDL A drivers are like a unicorn.
I've seen our drivers wedge parking lot ballards under trailers, we blacked out an asphalt plant for the day once with someone driving around with the body up, and we did that too on a street once too. We hit a horse once too. (not our fault) The one ex-cdl instructor destroyed a trailer rim and tire on a curb in a parking lot. Blamed it on the township engineer for letting someone design the parking lot like that. No joke. i cant make this stuff up. I'm writing a book when i retire.