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Commercial Driver Education in New York

To drive a commercial vehicle in New York, you will be tasked with a lot of responsibilities. One of the best ways to make sure you have the knowledge and skills to drive your cargo or passengers safely is to enroll in a CDL driver education course.

Below is information about commercial Driver's Ed requirements in New York State as set by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). For a deeper dive into how to get a NY commercial driver's license, check out the following pages:

NY Commercial Driver's Ed Requirements

In New York, a formal commercial driver's education course is not required prior to obtaining your CDL. However, a classroom course can be essential to preparing you for the steps you'll need to complete in order to get your NY CDL.

These steps include:

  • A written test (to receive your commercial learner's permit).
  • Supervised behind-the-wheel driving practice.
  • A road test.

There are a number of truck driving schools in New York offering classroom education that'll prepare you for your written test. The prices and course lengths differ, so choose what fits best with your budget and timeframe.

Before signing up for classes, you should determine exactly which classification of CDL you're applying for. To get a commercial learner's permit (CLP), you have to take a written test that's tailored to a specific CDL class.

Finding a Truck Driving School

The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) is a great resource for meeting the supervised driving requirements. The PTDI is also supported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which means that you'll be taught with federal standards in mind.

In order for a course to be considered PTDI-certified, it must include a minimum of 148 hours of instruction that includes:

  • Vehicle inspection.
  • Safely accelerating and braking.
  • Backing up and turning.
  • Shifting gears.
  • Identifying and fixing mechanical problems.
  • Taking the correct action at road signs and railroad tracks.
  • Correct loading and securing of cargo.
  • Maintaining a clear field of vision.
  • Sharing the road with non-commercial vehicles.
  • Driving at night and in hazardous conditions.
  • Recovering in emergency situations.

When you have enough supervised driving under your belt, you can make an appointment to take the commercial driver's license road test.

Written Exam Preparation

The first step to getting your New York commercial driver's license is getting your commercial learner's permit (CLP), and to get your CLP you have to pass the written test.

The written test consists of:

Keep reading below for examples of what you'll need to know in each of these categories.

As mentioned above, classroom courses are an excellent option for written exam preparation, especially if your home environment isn't conducive to studying.

* NOTE: It'll save you the time and hassle of having to retake the written exam if you're as prepared as possible. Consider using practice tests, which will familiarize you with the format of the CDL written exam and can help to identify your weaker areas.

General Info for All CDL Applicants

All prospective commercial drivers should have a general knowledge of the following subjects:

  • Safe driving practices in a commercial vehicle.
  • Thorough inspections of your vehicle before and during a trip.
  • Accelerating and braking safely.
  • Manual and automatic transmissions.
  • Optimizing your field of vision.
  • Driving in hazardous conditions.
  • Impaired and distracted driving.
  • Driving at night.
  • Emergency situations and brake failure.
  • Inspecting and securing cargo.

CDL Class-Specific Information

Depending on the kind of commercial vehicle you'll be driving, parts of the written test will address specific information regarding your commercial driver's license endorsements.

Listed below are the different endorsements and a few pieces of additional knowledge you'll have to be familiar with for the written test.

  • Double and triple trailers.
    • Risks and safety precautions.
    • Coupling and uncoupling trailers.
  • Passenger and school transport (i.e. buses).
    • Passenger loading and supervision.
    • Danger zones and using your mirrors (for school bus drivers).
  • Vehicles with tanks, hauling liquid or liquid gas.
    • Changes in vehicle movement and momentum due to liquid cargo.
  • Vehicles transporting hazardous materials.
    • Hazardous material terminology and signage.
    • Safe loading and unloading practices.
    • Emergency protocols and follow up procedures.

Taking the NY CDL Road Test

When you've held your commercial learner's permit for the required amount of time, and you've practiced driving with a supervising CDL holder, you can schedule an appointment with the New York DMV to take your road test. You will need to take the test in the type of vehicle that your CDL is for—otherwise, a restriction will be placed on your CDL.

Driving your commercial vehicle should feel like second nature by the time you decide to take the road test. If you're still feeling shaky on certain procedures, talk with your supervising driver and practice until you feel confident.

With the right preparation and a “Keep on truckin'!" attitude, you'll have your New York commercial driver's license in no time.

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