Commercial Driver Education in Louisiana
With a big rig comes big responsibility. There are more safety precautions you have to take and new driving practices you must learn.
When applying for a new commercial driver's license (CDL) in Louisiana, you'll need to prove your knowledge of these concepts.
Though the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV) does not currently require you to enroll in CDL courses, they are still a great resource to use before taking your commercial driver's licensing exam, and will far better prepare you for potential situations out on the roads.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Louisiana Office 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.
Commercial Driver's Education Requirements
As mentioned above, you are not currently required by the state to enroll in commercial driver's education classes, though this will be changing beginning February 7, 2022. However, taking in-class and behind-the-wheel training will make passing the required exams much less stressful.
The tests that all CDL applicants are required to take are:
- Written general knowledge test.
- Basic skills road test.
A classroom course will help to familiarize you with the format and difficulty of the written test, and allow you to ask questions on confusing material.
A behind-the-wheel component will familiarize you with the vehicle you'll be driving and give you an idea of what to expect for the road test.
Louisiana CDL Driver's Ed Curriculum
Although taking CDL classroom courses is not required currently by the Louisiana OMV, they can still be of great benefit to you.
While researching your options, look for courses that:
- Fit your budget.
- Work within your schedule.
- Cover all of the topics applicable to the CDL you're applying for.
An in-class commercial driver's education curriculum in Louisiana should generally include:
- Inspection of vehicle parts and knowledge of their function.
- Using the transmission.
- How to accelerate and brake in a safe manner.
- Backing up.
- Establishing and maintaining a suitable field of vision.
- Turning and merging into other lanes.
- Sharing the road with other vehicles and pedestrians.
- Calculating your stopping distance.
- Driving in hazardous conditions like:
- Extremely hot weather.
- Heavy rain.
- The dangers of distracted and impaired driving.
- Correct procedure at railroad crossings and traffic signs.
- Loading and securing cargo.
- Emergency situations and recovery.
Knowing the topics above will make passing the general knowledge test easier.
Additional CDL Topics
The classification and endorsement(s) of the CDL you're applying for may warrant additional written tests. Other topics you could be responsible for knowing include:
- Loading/unloading and transporting passengers.
- Air/hydraulics brakes.
- Driving a combination vehicle.
- Transporting and handling hazardous materials.
- Hauling a liquid-filled tank.
- Driving with double or triple trailers.
- Safe operation of a school bus.
When you feel like you know all of the information well, make an appointment at your local OMV office to take the CDL written test(s).
LA Behind-the-Wheel Commercial Education
Once you pass the Office of Motor Vehicles' written test(s), you will be issued a commercial learner's permit (CLP).
The permit is only valid for 60 days, so if you wish, you'll need to enroll in behind-the-wheel courses very soon after passing the written exams.
Again, Louisiana does not require you to enroll in behind-the-wheel education when applying for your CDL. However, like written test preparation courses, having professional behind-the-wheel experience will make the road test that much easier.
When selecting a CDL education program, first make sure that:
- It's taught by instructors who hold valid Louisiana commercial driver's licenses.
- The courses cover all of the skills you'll need to know for the road test(s) pertaining to the classification and endorsement(s) of your desired CDL.
When you've confirmed that a program is legitimate and caters to your needs, take a look at the offered curriculum.
You should choose a CDL class with a curriculum that covers all of the topics you'll need to know for the basic skills road test, including:
- Reversing in a straight line and on a curve.
- Parallel parking.
- Docking in an alley.
- Safely crossing through an intersection.
- Safely exiting from and entering into moving traffic.
- Handling curves and steep gradients.
- Correct transmission and brake usage.
Additional OMV Road Tests
Keep in mind that you could be expected to take multiple road tests, depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of your prospective commercial driver license.
Additional behind-the-wheel skills you could be responsible for include:
- Safely loading and unloading passengers.
- Extra precautions for operating a school bus.
- Driving a double or triple trailer.
- Driving a liquid-filled tanker.
Keep these additional topics in mind when selecting a behind-the-wheel education program.
Also, remember that your learner's permit is only valid for 60 days, so choose a class that will fit in with your time restrictions.
NOTE: When you feel confident and comfortable behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, you can set up a date and time to take your road test(s). The Louisiana OMV does NOT administer CDL road tests at their offices, so you will need to set a testing appointment with a third party location.
Benefits of Commercial Driver's Education
Overall, preparing for the Louisiana OMV's written and road tests can seem overwhelming. You will need to learn a lot of new information and adapt to driving a much larger vehicle than you might be used to.
Even though you'll end up giving up a bit of time and money, commercial driver education courses may prove to be worth it.
The biggest benefits of enrolling in CDL classes are:
- Excellent test preparation:
- Learn from course material structured around the specific information and driving skills you'll need to know for your desired CDL.
- Classes are taught by instructors that hold commercial driver's licenses, who can answer questions you may have about the written and road tests.
- You'll potentially suffer fewer distractions in a classroom environment.
- Better job opportunities:
- Employers might feel better about hiring a driver who has professional training.
- You'll potentially establish connections and a network among your fellow classmates and instructors.
Study for a Louisiana CDL on Your Own
Maybe you don't have enough leeway in your budget and schedule to take CDL classes. Or maybe you're a better learner on your own time. Either way, studying on your own is a completely viable option.
Everything that you need to know in preparing for the written and behind-the-wheel tests can be found in the Louisiana Commercial Driver's License Manual. There's even a helpful chart that outlines each section you will need to study.
If you decide to prepare on your own for the OMV's CDL exams, make sure that you cover all of the sections that apply to the classification and endorsement(s) of the CDL you're testing for.
Another great tool at your disposal are practice tests, which can help familiarize you with the format of the written exam and identify areas that might require more studying.