Commercial Driver Education in Georgia
By becoming a commercial driver, you'll make a living by traveling the “Peach State" with nothing but the Georgia road ahead on your mind.
The first step you have to take to become a commercial driver is apply for a Georgia commercial driver's license (CDL).
When you apply for a new CDL, the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) will give you a series of tests meant to evaluate your knowledge of the new safety and driving skills that are required to drive a commercial vehicle.
In preparation for the CDL exams, the Georgia DDS does not currently require applicants to enroll in commercial driver education, though this will change per a federal mandate on February 7, 2022. Taking CDL classes is still a good idea, though, as it can increase your chances of passing your required tests in a single attempt.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Georgia Department of Driver Services 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.
Georgia CDL Education Requirements
As mentioned above, you are not currently state-required to take commercial driver education classes, though beginning on February 7, 2022 all new applications will undergo mandatory entry-level driver training. A CDL course will, however, prepare you well for the required Department of Driver Services CDL exams.
In Georgia, all commercial driver applicants are required to take the following exams:
- General written knowledge test.
- Behind-the-wheel CDL skills test.
In addition to the aforementioned exams, you could also be required to pass multiple written and road CDL tests, depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of the CDL you're applying for.
So, make sure that you're absolutely sure of your commercial driver license classification and endorsement(s) as you begin to prepare for the CDL exams.
For more information on the different CDL classifications and endorsements, refer to the following guides:
Georgia CDL Test Prep Options
As stated before, the Georgia DDS does not currently require CDL applicants to enroll in a formal CDL education until February 7, 2022.
Even though it's not mandatory, you should still consider commercial driver education a great resource to have in preparing for the CDL written and road exams. You'll give yourself a leg up in the following areas:
- Taking a classroom course will prepare you for the format and material of the DDS written CDL exam(s).
- Getting behind-the-wheel education will teach you all of the skills you'll need to master for your CDL road test(s).
So, if you do begin to look for commercial driver education courses in Georgia, first ask the following questions about your options:
- Does the program's tuition and course length fit into your budget and schedule?
- Do certified instructors who hold valid commercial driver's licenses teach the classes?
- Will the class curriculum cover all of the topics and skills you need to learn for the exams pertaining to your particular CDL?
Also, the Georgia DDS provides a list of approved CDL schools, which is a great place to start in your search for commercial driver education classes.
GA Classroom CDL Courses
It's important that you establish that the curriculum of whatever classroom course you choose minimally covers the material that you'll find on the general written knowledge exam.
Look for topics like:
- Complete vehicle inspection.
- Execution of basic maneuvers (e.g. accelerating and reversing).
- Maintaining awareness and communication on the road.
- Driving in hazardous conditions like:
- Inclement weather.
- Slippery roads.
- Heavy traffic.
- The dangers of driving while distracted or impaired.
- Recovering from emergencies and accidents.
Additional CDL Written Tests
As mentioned earlier, the DDS could require you to take additional written CDL exams if the classification and endorsement(s) of your desired CDL warrant it.
Other written test topics to keep an eye out for include:
- Safe transport of passengers.
- Vehicles with air brakes.
- Driving a combination vehicle.
- Legal transportation of hazardous materials.
- Hauling liquid or gaseous materials in a tanker.
- Pulling double or triple trailers.
- Safe operation of a school bus.
When you've studied all of the topics pertaining to your commercial driver license, make an appointment at a Department of Driver Services CDL examination station for your written test.
Behind-the-Wheel CDL Training
When you pass the required written exams, the DDS will give you a CDL learner's permit, which you must hold onto for at least 14 days before taking the commercial driver road test.
During that time, consider enrolling in a behind-the-wheel CDL training program. These courses are designed specifically to help you pass the Department of Driver Services CDL road exam.
As you begin to narrow your options, take a closer look at all of the skills the program will teach you. Make sure that you'll at least learn the material that's expected to be on the CDL skills road test, like:
- Completing a full internal and external inspection of your vehicle.
- Executing basic tasks (e.g. parallel parking and docking in an alley).
- Driving through intersections and railroad crossings.
- Entering and exiting the flow of moving traffic.
Additional Behind-the-Wheel Training
Just like CDL written testing, you might have to learn additional behind-the-wheel skills for the DDS' road exam depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of the commercial driver's license you're applying for.
Other behind-the-wheel skills you could have to learn for your CDL road exam include:
- Extensive pre-trip vehicle inspection on all types of buses and trailers.
- Shifting gears with a manual transmission.
- Letting students off of a school bus.
- Inspecting air brakes.
When you feel absolutely confident in your abilities to drive a commercial vehicle, make a road test appointment at an approved DDS office.
GA CDL Self-Study
Does enrolling in commercial driver education mean having to give up too much of your time and money? Or are you the type of person who learns best on their own time?
If the answer is, “yes," then remember that you always have the option of studying for your CDL exams on your own.
All of the material that you're expected to know is in the Georgia Commercial Driver's Manual. Make sure that you're conscientious of all the sections you need to review for the specific CDL exams that pertain to the classification and endorsement(s) of the license you want.
As a way to check on your progress, consider taking some practice tests. Doing so will help to prepare you for the format and material of the CDL written exams, and indicate which parts of the manual might need more studying. Having the ability to practice your exam without stress or pressure is also a great way to absorb the information you'll need to know on test day.