Commercial Driver Education in Arizona
Driving a commercial vehicle in Arizona is no simple task, as you're expected to learn a whole new set of driving and safety practices.
To prove that you'll be a responsible driver, you will first need to pass the Arizona Department of Transportation's (DOT) Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) tests when applying for a new commercial driver's license (CDL).
Though you're not currently required to complete CDL education in Arizona, per new federal law, the DOT will require enrollment in mandatory commercial driver education beginning February 7, 2022. Receiving a professional CDL education will also help you to feel more confident behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle once you have your CDL.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division now mandates new CDL applicants complete an entry-level driver training course through an authorized provider. You’ll need to complete this training prior to applying for your first commercial driver’s license, upgrading your existing CDL class, or applying for a HAZMAT, school bus, or passenger endorsement.
AZ Commercial Driver's Ed Requirements
Per new federal law, beginning February 7, 2022, you must take a mandatory entry-level driver training course before applying for your CDL in AZ. Taking such courses will prepare you well for the written and behind-the-wheel commercial driver exams.
The following are the exams that all CDL applicants are required to take:
- Written general knowledge test.
- Behind-the-wheel CDL skills test.
Classroom courses will get you familiar with the format and difficulty of the written general knowledge test.
Behind-the-wheel training will prepare you for the CDL road test by providing you with valuable learning time in the vehicle that you'll be driving for your CDL exam.
CDL Classification & Endorsement Requirements
Naturally, with different sorts of commercial vehicles come different types of responsibility.
For example, hauling a tank full of gasoline does not require the same type of knowledge as hauling a bus full of school children (though both can be equally as nerve-wracking).
So, depending on the classification and endorsement(s) attached to your commercial driver's license, you might need to take additional CDL exams.
If you aren't sure which classification and/or endorsements apply to your desired CDL, do your research now. That way you won't be unpleasantly surprised with CDL exams that you haven't prepared for.
You can find information on our following guides:
In-Class CDL Courses in Arizona
The Arizona DOT Motor Vehicle Divisiondoes not currently require you to enroll in CDL classroom education, though this will change on February 7, 2022. Inspite of this, you should still consider in-class courses when deciding how to prepare for the commercial driver written exam(s).
While looking at your options, first consider the following:
- Does the tuition fit into your budget?
- Do the classroom hours work with your schedule?
- Does the curriculum cover all of the topics applicable to your prospective CDL?
The Arizona commercial Driver's Ed program that you choose should at least cover the material that'll be on the written general knowledge exam, including:
- Vehicle inspection before, during, and after a trip.
- Basic vehicle maneuvers like:
- Accelerating and braking.
- Shifting automatic and manual transmissions.
- Creating a field of vision for yourself.
- Sharing the road and communicating with other drivers.
- Calculating your required stopping distance.
- Adjusting to hazardous driving conditions like:
- Slippery roads.
- Rain and fog.
- Construction zones.
- Safe driving practices on curves and steep hills.
- Keeping a safe amount of space:
- In front of your vehicle.
- While turning.
- Overhead while passing under bridges.
- Beneath your vehicle on bumpy roads.
- Driving at night.
- Procedure for railroad crossings and other traffic signs.
- Driving in the mountains.
Additional CDL Written Test Prep
Additional commercial driver topics to look for include:
- Transporting passengers in public transit and/or private coach buses.
- Using air brakes.
- Driving a combination vehicle.
- Working with hazardous materials.
- Hauling a liquid or gas-filled tanker.
- Pulling double and triple trailers.
- Safe operation of a school bus.
- Loading and securing cargo.
When you feel comfortable with the material, make an appointment for your written exam at one of the MVD's commercial driver license testing locations.
Once you've aced your CDL written exam(s), the Arizona DOT will issue you a commercial learner permit (CLP). From that time, you have 6 months to make an appointment for your CDL road test, which is more than enough time to complete a behind-the-wheel CDL training course.
Arizona Behind-the-Wheel CDL Classes
As previously stated, the Arizona DOT does not require you to enroll in behind-the-wheel commercial driver education.
Despite this, it's important to consider that these classes are specifically set up to help you pass the required CDL road test(s).
If you begin to look into possible behind-the-wheel CDL training, first make sure that:
- Classes are taught by instructors who hold valid Arizona commercial driver licenses.
- Course length and price don't put too much strain on your daily life.
- The curriculum covers all of the skills that your desired CDL will warrant for the road test.
CDL Training Curriculum
You'll be able to tell which behind-the-wheel programs are legitimate from the course material they offer.
Courses should at the very least teach the skills you will need to master for the general CDL skills road test, like:
- Conducting a thorough internal and external vehicle inspection.
- Identifying different vehicle parts and their proper function.
- Parallel parking.
- Signaling and maneuvering while turning and merging lanes.
- Entering and exiting roads amid moving traffic.
- Passing under bridges.
Additional CDL Behind-the-Wheel Topics
Just like the CDL written tests, your specific type of commercial driver's license could require that you take additional road exams.
Other possible skills you may have to learn include:
- Pre-trip safety inspection of your school bus.
- Making sure all trailer (combination, double, and triple) connections are secure.
- Interior and exterior inspection of public transit and coach buses.
Benefits of AZ Commercial Driver Education
Enrolling in a commercial driver's education course will inevitably mean giving up some time and money. Though you'll have to make some temporary changes to your everyday life, taking a CDL class could prove to be worth it.
Some larger benefits to consider include:
- Improved exam preparation:
- You'll be taught by instructors that hold commercial driver's licenses and who've been through the same CDL testing processes.
- The classes will cover each topic and skill that you'll need to know to pass the written and road tests.
- There'll be less distractions in a classroom environment.
- Better employment opportunities:
- Potential employers will appreciate, and sometimes require, that you've clocked hours in professional CDL education.
- You can establish valuable connections with your instructors and classmates, that could lead to jobs down the road.
Studying Solo for Your AZ CDL
After taking a look at the offered course lengths and prices, maybe you've decided that commercial driver education isn't for you. Or perhaps you're just the type of person who learns better on their own time.
Whatever the reason, remember that you can always study for the CDL tests on your own.
All of the information you'll need to know for your CDL exams can be found in the Arizona Commercial Driver License Manual. Refer to the chart in the manual to make sure that you're covering every section that pertains to the CDL you're applying for.
As an additional tool, you may want to check out some practice tests. These will help familiarize you with the layout of the written exam(s) and show which areas of CDL might require a little more studying.