Commercial Driver Education in Maine
If you want to become a commercial driver in Maine, you'll need to learn a whole new set of driving skills. When you apply for a new Maine commercial driver's license (CDL), the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) will test your knowledge of the safety and behind-the-wheel practices that are specific to operating a commercial vehicle.
After receiving your CDL, you might be required to complete subsequent trainings specific to the line of commercial driver work you'll be entering. Beginning on February 7, 2022, all new applicants will be required to complete mandatory federal training. Read on for more information about preparatory commercial Driver's Ed and mandatory training.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the Maine Bureau 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.
Required CDL Education in Maine
In preparation for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' commercial driver license exams, you are not currently state-required to take CDL education courses, though this will be changing on February 7, 2022.
However, Maine school bus drivers MUST complete specialized trainings before AND during your time as a school bus driver in order to be eligible to work.
Maine School Bus Drivers
In addition to getting your Maine CDL, you'll need to finish mandatory school bus driver training before you can begin to legally transport students.
As a NEW school bus driver, you'll need to complete behind-the-wheel and classroom instruction, learning about subjects like:
- First aid administration.
- Student management.
- Vehicle inspection before and after a trip.
During your employment, you'll also need to enroll in annual in-service training in order to maintain your qualification as a Maine school bus driver.
The school district that hired you will typically provide you with the necessary trainings to get you started as a school bus driver. If this isn't the case, you can always take school bus driver education courses at a community college, trade school, or through a private company.
All school bus drivers are also required to pass a background check and get fingerprinted. In order to start this process you will need to fill out an Application for Initial Educational Approval (Form EFC-3OO-C) and enclose the $15 processing fee. Next you will need to register with a fingerprinting service and pay the $55 processing fee. You will be given an ID card and a confirmation slip.
For more information about school bus driver training in Maine, contact the Department of Education's transportation and facilities specialist at (207) 624-6886.
All ME Commercial Drivers
Even though you aren't currently state-required to take CDL test prep courses until February 7, 2022, doing so will improve your chances of being able to pass the Maine BMV's commercial driver exams in a single attempt. Also consider that a good number of employers look for commercial driver education and/or training on your resumé.
The tests that all Maine commercial driver license applicants are required to pass include:
- Written general knowledge exam.
- Behind-the-wheel CDL skills exam.
You will also be required to pass additional examinations if your desired CDL's classification and endorsement(s) call for it. Take the time to double-check that you know exactly which classification and endorsement apply to your commercial driver's license so that you can avoid any unpleasant surprises on testing day.
If you'd like to know more about commercial vehicle classifications and endorsements, check out our pages:
Choose a Maine CDL Test Prep Course
As mentioned before, commercial driver license applicants do not currently have to take CDL test prep courses. Despite this, you should still strongly consider taking a class for the following major reasons:
- ME employers will often require that you've already had some formal commercial driver training before considering you for a job.
- Commercial driver test prep courses are specifically designed to help you pass the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' CDL exams with ease.
The following kinds of CDL test prep courses will prepare you for the BMV's written and behind-the-wheel CDL tests:
- Classroom instruction will familiarize you with the format and difficulty of your CDL written test(s).
- Behind-the-wheel training will ensure that you're comfortable with the skills that you'll need to execute for the CDL road test.
So, when you begin to look into your Maine CDL test prep options, keep the following crucial questions in mind:
- Will your schedule and budget be able to accommodate the duration and cost of a commercial Driver's Ed course?
- Are all of the classes taught by certified instructors who hold valid Maine commercial driver's licenses?
- What's included on the curriculum? Does it cover all of the material that you can expect on your specific CDL's written and road exams?
A good place to start when looking for a Maine CDL test prep course is the BMV's list of suggested commercial Driver's Ed schools.
Classroom CDL Course Curriculum
The curriculum of the CDL classroom course that you enroll in should at least cover the topics that you'll see on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles' written general knowledge CDL exam, including:
- Conducting a full vehicle inspection.
- Performing basic maneuvers (e.g. accelerating and stopping).
- Using automatic and manual transmissions.
- Communication and awareness of the other vehicles around you.
- Maintaining a safe vehicle speed during:
- Rainy/icy road conditions.
- Sharp turns.
- Steep downgrades.
- Seeing and managing hazards like:
- Heavy traffic.
- Bad weather.
- Objects/bicyclists/pedestrians in the road.
- The dangers of distracted and impaired driving.
- Procedure in emergency situations.
You'll have to pass additional written exams if the classification and endorsement(s) on your commercial driver's license call for it. The other CDL written test topics you could expect to see include:
- Transportation of passengers.
- Vehicles equipped with air brakes.
- Combination vehicles.
- Working with hazardous materials.
- Driving tankers filled with liquid or gas.
- Hauling double or triple trailers.
- Safe school bus operation.
CDL Road Test Prep Curriculum
After passing the BMV's required written exams, you'll receive a commercial learner's permit (CLP). Having a CLP allows you to legally practice driving your commercial vehicle of choice with a licensed supervisor.
The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles does not designate a precise amount of time that you need to have your commercial learner's permit before going in for your behind-the-wheel exam. However, according to federal law, all CLP holders must wait at least 14 days after receiving their permit before going to take the CDL road skills test. Use this as a guide, and check with your local BMV office for details on Maine's specific requirements.
Since you'll have the time and credentials to do so, consider enrolling in a behind-the-wheel training program. A legitimate program will teach you all of the skills that you'll need to perform for your particular commercial driver license's road test.
For the general CDL skills behind-the-wheel exam, you will need to execute skills including (but not limited to):
- Backing exercises (e.g. parallel parking and docking).
- Safely turning and changing lanes.
- Procedure at railroad crossings.
- Merging onto and off of expressways.
- Basic safety practices like:
- Regularly checking the traffic around you.
- Using turn signals.
- Maintaining a safe vehicle speed.
Similar to the BMV's CDL written testing, you will have to learn and execute additional skills for your road test if the classification and endorsement(s) on your license warrant it. Some of the other behind-the-wheel practices you may have to demonstrate include:
- Extensive pre-trip vehicle inspection for all buses and trailers.
- Air brakes inspection.
- Shifting gears using a manual transmission.
- Letting students onto and off of a school bus.
ME CDL Independent Study
Remember, in preparation for the ME Bureau of Motor Vehicles' written and road testing you always have the option to study on your own. This might be the best option for you if a CDL test prep course is going to put too much strain on your budget and/or schedule.
Everything that you need to know for the BMV's commercial driver's license exams is in the Maine Commercial Driver License Manual. Study every section pertaining to your CDL's particular classification and endorsement(s), because you will be tested on it.
Another great study tool at your personal disposal are practice tests. Taking these can help to gauge just how well you know the material and will also give you some idea of how the BMV's written tests look. Additionally, an online CDL practice test gives you the ability to study wherever it's convenient for you, at intervals throughout the day.
As long as you're dedicated and disciplined in your studies, you'll pass the CDL written and behind-the-wheel exams just fine.