Commercial Driver Education in Connecticut

Driving a large vehicle means having a large amount of responsibility. You'll have to know more about safety and different driving practices than if you were driving a non-commercial vehicle.

When you apply for a new commercial driver's license (CDL) in Connecticut, you'll have to take tests administered be the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to prove your abilities.

An effective way to prepare for the CDL exams is to enroll in commercial driver's education classes, though you are not currently required by the state to do so.


Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles 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.

CT CDL Education Requirements

As mentioned above, the Connecticut DMV does NOT currently require CDL applicants to enroll in commercial driver education classes. Beginning on February 7, 2022, all new CDL applicants must undergo a mandatory entry-level driver training course.

The exams that all CT CDL applicants are required to take are:

  • General written knowledge test.
  • Basic CDL skills road test.

Taking an in-class course will help familiarize you with the format and content of the written CDL exam.

Taking a behind-the-wheel class will get you comfortable with actually driving a commercial vehicle, and prepare you for the litany of tasks you'll need to perform for the CDL road exam(s).

It's important to note that depending on the classification and endorsement(s) attached to the CDL you're applying for, you may be required to pass additional written and road tests.

Therefore, it's in your preparatory favor to know exactly which classification and endorsement(s) apply to your desired CDL.

CDL Written Test Prep

Once again, you are not currently state-required to take in-class commercial driver education courses until February 7, 2022. However, a classroom CDL class can help to improve your chances of passing the written exam in a single attempt.

When researching your different options, first consider your budget and schedule, since CDL education programs will inevitably differ in price and course length.

Next, look at the course material and make sure that the topics of the general knowledge exam are included. Such topics include:

  • How to properly inspect your vehicle.
  • Safely accelerating and braking.
  • Shifting gears.
  • Establishing a large field of vision.
  • Sharing the road and communicating your intentions with other drivers.
  • Calculating stopping distance.
  • Driving in different environments like:
    • Urban areas.
    • Rural roads.
    • Highways.
  • Antilock braking systems.
  • What to do at railroad crossings and other road signs.
  • Driving in hazards such as:
    • Fog.
    • Rain.
    • Snow.
  • Handling tight curves and steep hills.
  • Proper loading, unloading, and securing of cargo.
  • What to do in the event of an emergency.

Additional CDL Written Test Prep

Don't forget that you might face multiple written exams, depending on your CDL class and any added endorsement.

Other topics that you might need to be familiar with include:

  • Proper transportation practices when passengers are involved (public and private buses).
  • Air brakes.
  • Driving a combination vehicle.
  • Hauling tankers filled with liquid.
  • Safety requirements for driving a school bus.
  • Pulling double or triple trailers.
  • Transporting, loading, and general knowledge of hazardous materials.

Connecticut CDL Driver Training Courses

As mentioned before, the CT Department of Motor Vehicles does not require you to take behind-the-wheel commercial driver's training classes. However, if time and money allow, you should still consider enrolling in one to prepare for the CDL road test.

When selecting a behind-the-wheel program, it's important to make sure that the course fulfills the following criteria:

  • Taught by instructors who hold valid Connecticut CDLs.
  • Course curriculum covers all of the driving skills you'll need to perform for your specific CDL road test.
  • The program has the same type of vehicle for you to practice in that you'll be driving with your commercial driver license.

Behind-the-Wheel CDL Course Curriculum

When you've established the validity of a few behind-the-wheel courses, take a careful look at the offered material.

Make sure that the classes you're considering cover skills that the basic CDL skills road test will require to to perform, like:

  • Thorough internal and external vehicle inspection.
    • You may be expected to identify different parts of the vehicle and perform individual checks on them.
  • Reversing in a straight line and on a curve.
  • Parallel parking.
  • Docking in an alley.
  • Safely turning and merging into other lanes.
  • Correct procedure when crossing through intersections.
  • Driving in different surroundings, such as:
    • Cities.
    • Rural areas.
    • Expressways.
    • Over and under bridges.
  • Entering and exiting a busy roadway.
  • Using automatic and/or manual transmissions.
  • Curve handling.

Additional CDL Road Tests

Keep in mind that depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of your desired CDL, you could be required to take additional road tests.

Other skills you could be required to know include:

  • Proper use and inspection of air brakes.
  • Specific safety procedures for operating a school bus.
  • Proper loading, unloading, and transportation of passengers.

Make sure that you know exactly which CDL road tests apply to your commercial driver's license. The last thing you want is to encounter surprise exams at the DMV that you aren't prepared for.

When you feel confident in your abilities to pass the road test, schedule an appointment with the Connecticut DMV.

Benefits of Connecticut CDL Education

Adequate preparation for the CDL exams will mean a lot of work and discipline on your part. The often-dense material can make studying on your own a harrowing process. Enrolling in a commercial driver's education course might just prove to be worth it.

Some major benefits of taking a CDL prep course include:

  • Comprehensive test preparation.
    • Courses are targeted at covering all of the topics you need to master for your specific CDL exams.
    • You're taught by qualified instructors who hold commercial driver licenses and have been through the DMV's testing processes.
    • Being in a classroom environment means dealing with less distractions.
  • Employment opportunities.
    • Boost your resume with a professional CDL education under your belt.
    • Make connections and establish networks with your instructors and fellow classmates.

CT Self-Study Guide

Remember, you are not obligated to take commercial driver education classes. So, if you learn best on your own time or just don't have the money and time that CDL courses require, that's fine!

All of the information you'll be expected to know for the CDL exams is found in the Connecticut Commercial Driver's Manual. Just make sure that you read up on every section pertaining to your prospective CDL's classification and endorsement(s).

If you want to test your knowledge, consider taking some practice tests. These can help familiarize you with the format of the written exam and identify areas that might require more studying.

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