Commercial Driver Education in Delaware
If you apply to become a commercial driver in Delaware, you'll need to pass a series of tests administered by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV's tests are meant to verify your knowledge of all the new safety and driving skills associated with operating a commercial vehicle.
To prepare for the DMV's commercial driver exams, you have the option of taking CDL test prep courses, though it's not currently state-required. However, beginning on February 7, 2022, all CDL applicants will be required to undergo mandatory entry-level driver training.
After obtaining your DE commercial driver license you could have to complete mandatory trainings, dependent on the commercial vehicle you'll be driving.
Keep reading for more information about state-required occupational training and optional Delaware CDL test prep.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Delaware Division 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.
Delaware CDL Ed Requirements
As mentioned above, Delaware CDL applicants are not currently state-required to enroll in preparatory commercial Driver's Ed classes before taking the Division of Motor Vehicles' tests, though this will change on February 7, 2022. However, DE school bus drivers are legally required to complete job-specific trainings after receiving a CDL.
DE School Bus Drivers
If you'd like to drive a school bus in Delaware, you will need the following documentation to legally transport students:
- School bus driver certificate (allows you to get a school bus endorsement).
- DE commercial driver's license with school bus (S) and passenger (P) endorsements.
In order to get your initial school bus driver certificate, you will have to complete training with a certified Delaware school bus driver trainer in your school district. The DE Department of Education lays out the state-mandated driver training curriculum thusly:
- At least 12 hours of classroom instruction covering topics like:
- Laws and regulations.
- Responsibility of the driver.
- Letting students onto and off of the bus.
- Emergency situations.
- Minimum 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training broken down as follows:
- Observation—2 hours.
- Driving a school bus:
- Without students—2 hours.
- Full of kids— 2 hours.
Once you've completed your initial training, you'll get your school bus driver certificate. To maintain its validity (and continue your job as a Delaware school bus driver), you'll need to complete at least 4 hours of annual in-service training thereafter.
If you'd like more information about Delaware school bus driver training, contact the Department of Education's School Transportation office at (302) 857-3390.
All DE Commercial Driver Applicants
As previously stated, you are not currently state-required to complete formal CDL test prep courses until February 7, 2022. Doing so, however, can really help your chances of being able to pass the DE Division of Motor Vehicles' required commercial driver exams in a single attempt.
All Delaware CDL applicants are required to pass the following tests:
- Written general knowledge test.
- CDL skills road test.
In addition to the aforementioned CDL tests, you will also need to pass exams that are specific to your desired commercial driver's license's classification and endorsement(s). To avoid any unpleasant surprises on testing day, be sure that you know exactly which classification and endorsement(s) apply to your particular Delaware CDL.
For more information about commercial vehicle classifications and endorsements, take a look at the following guides:
CDL Test Prep Options in DE
Although taking a CDL test prep course is currently optional, you should still seriously consider enrolling in some sort of preparatory commercial driver education for the following reasons:
- Many Delaware employers will require that you've already completed some formal commercial driver training before considering you for a job.
- Commercial driver license test prep courses are structured specifically to ensure that you'll pass the Division of Motor Vehicles' exams with ease.
There are different types of CDL test prep courses which will prepare you for the DMV's different commercial exams in the following ways:
- Take a classroom course to prepare for the difficulty and layout of the DMV's written CDL exams.
- Enroll in a behind-the-wheel training program to get familiar with the vehicle and skills that you'll need to be comfortable with for the DMV's CDL road skills exam.
If you begin to look into Delaware's preparatory commercial Driver's Ed options, ask the following crucial questions of the programs that you're considering to help narrow down your search:
- Can your personal schedule and finances accommodate for the duration and tuition of a Delaware CDL test prep course?
- Do certified instructors who hold valid Delaware commercial driver's licenses teach all of the courses?
- What does the curriculum cover? Does it include all of the material that you need to master for your particular CDL's written and behind-the-wheel exams?
Delaware CDL Written Test Prep
If you decide to take a classroom course to prepare for the Division of Motor Vehicles' written CDL exam(s), make sure that the curriculum at least offers to teach the material that you'll see on the general knowledge exam, including (but not limited to):
- Conducting a proper vehicle inspection.
- Basic vehicle control (e.g. steering or braking).
- Manual and automatic transmissions.
- Communicating your intentions to the vehicles around you.
- Controlling your speed while:
- Making a sharp turn.
- In heavy traffic.
- On slippery/icy roads.
- Keeping a safe amount of space around your vehicle.
- Navigating hazards like:
- Dangerous weather conditions.
- Erratic drivers.
- Bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Uneven road surfaces.
- Dangers of impaired or distracted driving.
- Proceeding through railroad crossings.
- Procedure in accidents and emergencies.
The DMV will require you to pass additional written tests if your desired DE commercial driver's license's classification and endorsement(s) warrant it. The other written exams will test your knowledge on topics like:
- Transporting passengers.
- Vehicles equipped with air brakes.
- Combination vehicles.
- Working with hazardous materials.
- Tankers filled with gas or liquid.
- Double and triple trailers.
- Driving a school bus.
When you feel well-prepared, you can take the Division of Motor Vehicles' written CDL test(s) at your local Delaware DMV location, on a walk-in only basis.
CDL Road Skills Exam Prep
After you've passed all of the Division of Motor Vehicles' required written exams, you'll receive a DE commercial learner permit (CLP). Holding a CLP allows you to legally practice driving your commercial vehicle with a licensed supervisor and prepare for the DMV's CDL road skills test.
Your Delaware CLP is valid for 6 months and can be renewed once during that time. You must also hold your commercial learner permit for at least 14 days before going to take your commercial driver road skills exam.
So, since you'll have the time, consider enrolling in a formal behind-the-wheel CDL training program. Doing so will ensure that you're able to execute all of the skills that'll be asked of you during the DMV's road skills test.
The behind-the-wheel program that you choose should minimally teach you the skills you'll need to perform for the general CDL road skills test, including (but not limited to):
- Performing a full, internal/external pre-trip inspection of your vehicle.
- Backing exercises (e.g. docking or parallel parking).
- Making left and right turns.
- Safely driving through intersections and railroad crossings.
- Merging out of and back into moving traffic.
- Practicing basic safety skills like:
- Routinely checking the traffic around you.
- Using turn signals.
- Staying to your own lane.
Just like the written commercial driver license testing, the Division of Motor Vehicles will expect you to demonstrate additional driving skills if your CDL's classification and endorsement(s) require it. The other skills you could have to execute include:
- Specific type of pre-trip vehicle inspection for:
- Vehicles equipped with air brakes.
- Transit, coach, and school buses.
- Using a manual transmission.
- Boarding and discharging students from a school bus.
When you feel ready to take the Delaware DMV's CDL road skills exam, you'll need to contact one of the following CDL skills testing office locations to set up an appointment:
- Dover—(302) 744-2515
- Georgetown—(302) 853-1003
- Wilmington—(302) 433-3200
- Delaware City—(302) 832-5176
DE CDL Independent Study Guide
While applying for your DE commercial driver's license, remember that you always have the option to study on your own time.* This could be your best option if the time and financial commitment of a preparatory commercial Driver's Ed class is going to be too difficult to keep up with.
If you opt to study independently, make sure to get a copy of the State of Delaware Commercial Driver License Manual. The manual outlines all of the material that you'll need master for your particular CDL's written and road exams, including the specifications for certain classifications and endorsements.
Another study tool at your disposal are practice tests. These can be extremely useful in helping to gauge your mastery of the material and will also give you some idea of what topics and layout to expect on the Division of Motor Vehicles' written CDL tests. Additionally, an online practice test is completely mobile—study whenever, wherever you find the time, even if that's waiting to test at the DMV!
You should be able to get your Delaware commercial driver's license without issue as long as you have the right mindset and resources while preparing for the DMV's commercial driver tests.
* NOTE: Delaware school bus drivers MUST complete your mandatory certification training with the school district you're employed with.