Commercial Driver Education in Kansas
Close your eyes, click your heels together, and say, “There's no place like the road." If only becoming a commercial driver was that easy!
If the Kansas plains sound like an ideal work environment and being behind the wheel really does feel like home, then driving a commercial vehicle might just be your true calling.
To make this idea a reality, you will need to apply for a Kansas commercial driver's license (CDL).
The Kansas Department of Revenue (DOR) is responsible for administering CDLs. They will test your abilities to safely operate your commercial vehicle of choice.
In preparation for the DOR's required CDL testing, you are not currently state-required to enroll in commercial driver education courses. This will change on February 7, 2022.
Only certain commercial drivers are currently required to enroll in CDL trainings AFTER they've received their commercial driver license in order to get a job.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Kansas Department of Revenue 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.
Kansas CDL Training Requirements
As mentioned above, CDL applicants are not currently required to enroll in Kansas commercial driver training, though this will be changing on February 7, 2022. However, certain commercial drivers are required to complete specialized training after they have their commercial driver's license.
School Bus Drivers
School bus drivers must have commercial driver training AFTER you've received your CDL with school bus (S) and passenger (P) endorsements in order to legally transport students.
The Kansas Department of Education requires that all new school bus drivers complete the following trainings:
- At least 12 hours of initial behind-the-wheel training with a driver-trainer.
- First aid and CPR course.
- Vehicle accident prevention certification, which requires renewal.
You can renew your vehicle accident prevention certification either by:
- Completing a formal vehicle accident prevention course every 3 years.
- Attending an annual workshop put on by the Department of Education.
For more information on Kansas school bus driver training, you can contact the Department of Education's School Bus Safety department at (785) 296-4567. The DoE also provides a handbook outlining all of the statutes and requirements for school bus drivers in the state.
All Other Kansas CDL Applicants
School bus driver or not, before you consider applying for commercial driver jobs you have to first pass the Kansas Department of Revenue's commercial driver's license exams.
A great way for any applicant to prepare for the required CDL tests is to enroll in commercial driver training, though it's not mandatory.
The tests that all CDL applicants are required to pass include:
- Written general knowledge test.
- Basic CDL skills road test.
Depending on the classification and endorsement(s) on your desired Kansas CDL, you could also have to take additional commercial driver tests.
So, it's crucial that you know exactly which classification and endorsement(s) apply to your commercial driver's license.
For more information, check out our following CDL guides:
Choose a CDL Test Prep Course
Though it's not currently state-required, taking a CDL test prep course can really improve your chances of passing the DOR's CDL written and road tests on your first try.
Enrolling in an in-class course will familiarize you with the format and material on the CDL written test(s).
Participating in a behind-the-wheel program will ensure that you can execute all of the necessary CDL road test(s) procedures.
When you begin to look at your commercial driver education options, first ask the following questions of the programs that you're considering:
- Does the course's length and pricing fit comfortably with your schedule and budget?
- Are the classes taught by certified instructors who hold valid Kansas commercial driver licenses?
- Will the curriculum cover all of the material and skills that you need to master for your particular CDL's testing requirements?
KS In-Class CDL Education
If you can, take a look at the offered curriculum of the in-class KS CDL courses you're considering. The syllabus should at least cover the material that you'll be expected to know for the written general knowledge exam, including topics like:
- Vehicle inspection before, during, and after a trip.
- Maintaining basic vehicle control (e.g. accelerating and steering).
- Shifting gears with manual and automatic transmissions.
- Communication with and awareness of the traffic around you.
- Controlling vehicle speed in compromising situations like:
- Sharp curves.
- Slippery roads.
- Heavy traffic.
- Steep downgrades.
- Dealing with hazards like:
- Construction zones.
- Erratic drivers.
- Harsh weather conditions.
- The perils of distracted and impaired driving.
- Handling emergency situations.
Additional Written Test Prep
Like mentioned above, your CDL's classification and endorsement(s) will determine if you have to take additional commercial driver written tests.
Other testing topics to keep in mind while looking for an in-class CDL test prep course include:
- Passenger transport.
- Air brakes.
- Driving combination vehicles.
- Transporting hazardous materials.
- Pulling a gas or liquid-filled tanker.
- Hauling double or triple trailers.
- Operating a school bus.
When you feel prepared, schedule an appointment at one of the Kansas Department of Revenue's CDL written testing locations.
Kansas CDL Behind-the-Wheel Training
When you've passed all of your written CDL tests, the DOR will give you a Kansas commercial learner's permit (CLP).
According to federal law, you are required to hold your CLP for at least 14 days before requesting to take the CDL skills road exam—HOWEVER, this could differ based on Kansas state CDL laws. Check with the Department of Revenue to determine the exact CLP requirements for your state.
To fill that time and to ensure that you're prepared for the road test, consider enrolling in a behind-the-wheel commercial driver training program.
These programs are designed specifically to help you ace the Department of Revenue's CDL road test.
Should you decide to do some more research into CDL behind-the-wheel training options, take a close look at each course's available materials. The program should minimally teach you the skills that you'll need to demonstrate for the basic CDL skills road test, including:
- A complete, interior and exterior, pre-trip vehicle inspection.
- Backing up in a straight line and on a curve.
- Parallel parking and alley docking.
- Turning and changing lanes.
- Safely proceeding through railroad crossings and intersections.
- Entering and departing from the flow of moving traffic.
Additional CDL Road Testing
Like the Department of Revenue's CDL written testing, you could be expected to master additional skills for your road testing, depending on your CDL's classification and endorsement(s).
The other skills you may need to execute include:
- Performing an extended pre-trip vehicle inspection on all types of trailers and buses.
- Checking air brake functionality.
- Shifting gears with a manual transmission.
- Letting students off of a school bus.
When you feel confident behind the wheel of your commercial vehicle, schedule an appointment at the nearest DOR CDL road skills testing location.
KS CDL Self-Study Guide
In preparing for your commercial driver written and road tests, you always have the option of studying on your own. In other words, you do not have to enroll in formal CDL education classes.
All of the information and skills that you'll need to know for your CDL exams can be found in the Kansas Commercial Driver License Manual. In Section 1 you'll find a chart that indicates every section you'll need to study for your particular commercial driver license tests.
To test your CDL knowledge, you should also consider taking some practice tests. Doing so will prepare you for the format of the written CDL exams as well as let you know which areas of the manual you might need to revisit.