Commercial Driver Education in Nebraska
If you're interested in getting your Nebraska commercial driver's license (CDL), you'll need to apply for one through the NE Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Nebraska DMV will require you to pass examinations meant to gauge your knowledge of the driving and safety skills needed to operate a commercial vehicle.
After passing the required CDL tests and receiving your Nebraska CDL, you could legally have to take additional trainings depending on the commercial vehicle that you intend to drive. Keep reading for more information about commercial driver license education and required trainings.
Required Nebraska CDL Training
You are NOT state-required to enroll in commercial Driver's Ed in preparation for the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles' CDL exams.
However, AFTER obtaining the appropriate commercial driver license, potential school bus drivers MUST complete specialized trainings before you can begin to work.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the NE DMV 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.
Nebraska School Bus Drivers
If you want to work as a Nebraska school bus driver, then you'll have to finish additional trainings AFTER receiving your CDL with passenger (P) and school bus (S) endorsements.
Upon completion of your school bus driver training, you'll be given a school bus permit, which legally allows you to transport students. Without the necessary training and permit, it is illegal for you to drive a bus with students on it.
The trainings that all new Nebraska school bus drivers must complete for their initial school bus permit are:
- Level 1 classroom instructional course—11 hours.
- Classes are offered throughout the year. Check the NE Department of Education's schedule of classes.
- Behind-the-wheel training and pre-service evaluation.
- Must be with an instructor who holds a valid school bus permit and Nebraska commercial driver's license.
- Training should be administered and completed within the school district that you'll be driving for.
To maintain your permit, you must take a Level 2 school bus education refresher course every 5 years. Refresher courses are offered at a variety of locations, year-round, so finding a class shouldn't be too difficult.
Note that in some cases, a waiver may be granted for the Level 1 or Level 2 courses for CDL holders that have not had adequate time to complete either course. To qualify, applicants must pass an online exam. The waiver will give you an extension of 60 days to complete the required course.
For more information about NE school bus driver training, you can call the Nebraska Safety Center at (308) 865-8256.
All Nebraska CDL Applicants
Even though you aren't legally required to take commercial Driver's Ed classes, doing so can improve your chances of passing the Department of Motor Vehicles' CDL exams on your first attempt.
The tests that all NE commercial driver license applicants are required to pass are:
- General knowledge written exam.
- CDL skills road exam.
Your Nebraska CDL's classification and endorsement(s) will dictate if you need to pass additional commercial driver tests, specific to the type of vehicle you'll be driving. So, to avoid any unpleasant surprises on testing day, it's important that you know which classification and endorsement(s) apply to your particular commercial driver's license.
To learn more about CDL classifications and endorsements, refer to the following guides:
Choose a NE CDL Test Prep Course
As you read earlier, you are not state-required to take a preparatory commercial Driver's Ed course for the Nebraska DMV's CDL exams. Despite this, you should still consider enrolling in a class for these primary reasons:
- Most NE commercial driver employers will require that you've had some formal CDL training BEFORE considering you for a position.
- CDL test prep courses are specifically designed to help you ace the DMV's required commercial driver's license tests.
Formal commercial Driver's Ed programs will prepare you for the Department of Motor Vehicles' CDL exams in the following ways:
- Classroom courses will acquaint you with the difficulty, material, and format of the Nebraska DMV's written CDL exams.
- Taking a behind-the-wheel course will ensure that you're comfortable executing all of the necessary skills for the DMV's road skills exam.
If you're seriously considering taking a Nebraska CDL test prep course, first ask the following questions about each of your options before making a final decision:
- Do your budget and schedule have room for the pricing and duration of a commercial Driver's Ed course?
- Are the instructors certified? Do they all hold valid NE commercial driver's licenses?
- Will the curriculum cover all of the material you'll need to know for your particular CDL's written and road exams?
The Nebraska DMV provides a list of suggested commercial driver training schools, which is a good place to start when you begin to look for a CDL test prep course.
Nebraska CDL Classroom Course
To prepare for the DMV's written CDL test, look for a classroom course with a curriculum that at least covers the topics that you'll see on your written general knowledge exam, including (but not limited to):
- Steps to completing a full vehicle inspection.
- Basic practical skills (e.g. accelerating and reversing).
- Shifting gears with automatic or manual transmissions.
- Seeing and communicating with the traffic around you.
- Maintaining a safe speed during:
- Sharp turns.
- Steep hills.
- Heavy traffic.
- Icy/slippery roads.
- Spotting and dealing with hazards like:
- Uneven road surfaces.
- Objects in the road.
- Erratic drivers.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists.
- The dangers of driving while impaired or distracted.
- Steps to take in emergency or accident situations.
Don't forget that you could also have to take additional written tests if the classification and endorsement(s) on your Nebraska commercial driver's license call for it. The other written test topics you could have to prepare for include:
- Transporting passengers.
- Vehicles equipped with air brakes.
- Driving a combination vehicle.
- Working with hazardous materials.
- Hauling a tanker filled with liquid or gas.
- Pulling double or triple trailers.
- Safe operation of a school bus.
When you've studied and feel comfortable with all of the material that applies to your particular Nebraska CDL, schedule a written testing appointment at your local Department of Motor Vehicles office.
Behind-the-Wheel CDL Test Prep
When you've passed all of the DMV's required written testing, you'll be given a commercial learner's permit (CLP). Having a CLP allows you to legally practice driving in your commercial vehicle of choice.
By law, you must hold a CLP for at least 14 days before taking your CDL road skills exam. So, since you'll have the time, why not enroll in a behind-the-wheel training program to prepare for the NE Department of Motor Vehicles' road test?
A legitimate behind-the-wheel course will teach you all of the material that you'll need to execute for your general CDL road skills exam, including (but not limited to):
- Basic backing exercises (e.g. parallel parking and alley docking).
- Precautionary steps to take while driving through intersections and railroad crossings.
- Entering and exiting highways.
- Using general safety practices like:
- Checking your mirrors and the traffic around you.
- Using turn signals.
- Keeping both hands on the steering wheel.
The DMV will require you to learn additional behind-the-wheel skills if your commercial driver license's classification and endorsement(s) require it. The other skills you could also have to master include:
- Extensive pre-trip vehicle inspection for:
- All types of buses.
- Vehicles with air brakes.
- Shifting gears with a manual transmission.
- Discharging students from a school bus.
When you feel confident in your abilities to safely operate a commercial vehicle, you can take your CDL road skills test. You have the following options when it comes to taking your behind-the-wheel CDL exam:
- Make an appointment at a Nebraska DMV office by calling (402) 471-7983.
- Go to an approved third party testing site.
Self-Study Guide for NE CDL
In preparing for the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles' commercial driver license exams, you always have the option to study on your own. This might be your best plan of action if taking commercial Driver's Ed classes will put too much strain on your budget or schedule.
All of the material that you need to know for the DMV's CDL tests is in the Nebraska Commercial Driver License Manual. You'll need to study every section that applies to the classification and endorsement(s) on your desired CDL.
Also, consider taking some CDL practice tests, which are a great way to gauge your mastery of the material. They're formatted similarly to the DMV's written CDL exams and will familiarize you with what to expect on your testing day.
As long as you're disciplined in your study habits and have the necessary resources, you'll be able to pass all of your required commercial driver tests with ease.