Commercial Driver Education in Oklahoma
Just as that famous Oklahoma “wind comes sweeping down the plain," you can be speeding down the roadway while making money and experiencing all that the “grand" state of Oklahoma has to offer on a daily basis.
To make this dream a reality, you'll first need to apply for an Oklahoma commercial driver's license (CDL) through the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and pass a series of tests that measure your knowledge of the new driving and safety skills required when driving a commercial vehicle.
After receiving your CDL, you could be subject to additional required training, depending on the type of vehicle you'll be operating. Continue reading for details on how commercial driver education applies to you.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the OK Department of Public Safety 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 Oklahoma CDL Training
While preparing for the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety's commercial driver tests, you are not state-required to enroll in CDL education courses.
HOWEVER, after obtaining a commercial driver license with a school bus endorsement, potential school bus drivers are REQUIRED by law to complete specialized trainings before you can legally drive students to and from school.
OK School Bus Drivers
If you're planning on becoming a school bus driver in Oklahoma, you must complete additional trainings approved by the State Department of Education (SDE) before being allowed to work. By the end of your training, you'll earn a school bus driver certificate which allows you to legally transport students.
The initial training that all new Oklahoma school bus drivers must complete consists of BOTH:
- Classroom instruction.
- Behind-the-wheel practical education.
The amount of hours that you have to spend in school bus driver training is not definitive. However, the SDE recommends that you train 4 hours daily over the course of 5 days.
If you have other time commitments that seem like they won't allow for the necessary training, don't worry. You have several options when it comes to selecting an initial school bus certification course, including:
- Training directly with the school district that hired you during regular working hours.
- Taking evening classes at an Oklahoma CareerTech Center that offers school bus instruction.
- Completing an online course, approved by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
When you've finished the required training you'll receive your school bus driver certificate. In order to maintain certification as an Oklahoma school bus driver, you must complete at least 4 hours of annual in-service training, to be provided by your school district.
For more information about Oklahoma school bus driver training, call the SDE at (405) 521-4513.
Requirements for All OK CDL Applicants
If you have not obtained an Oklahoma CDL with a school bus endorsement, the state does not require you to complete any pre- or post-application training for your OK commercial driver's license.
Despite this, the state highly recommends you take a commercial driver education course prior to testing for your commercial learner's permit; doing so can really improve your chances of being able to pass on your first attempt.
All Oklahoma CDL applicants are required to pass the following tests:
- Written general knowledge exam.
- Behind-the-wheel road skills exam.
The classification (and endorsement, if applicable) of your desired CDL can result in you having to pass additional commercial driver tests. This is why it's important to know exactly which apply to your particular commercial driver license as you begin to study for the Department of Public Safety's CDL examinations.
For more information about CDL classifications and endorsements, read through the following guides:
OK Commercial Driver's Ed Options
As stated above, commercial driver license prep classes are not mandatory, although many Oklahoma employers will require that you've had some form of commercial driver training prior to hiring you.
Legitimate commercial Driver's Ed programs are designed to help you pass the Department of Public Safety's required CDL exams with ease:
- Enrolling in an in-class program will prepare you for the layout and difficulty of the DPS' written CDL exam.
- Participating in a behind-the-wheel training program will acquaint you with the vehicle and skills that you'll need to be comfortable with for the DPS' road skill exam.
While you research your different commercial Driver's Ed options in Oklahoma, be sure to ask the following questions about each program:
- Does your budget and schedule have room for the tuition and duration of a CDL course?
- Are the classes taught by certified instructors who hold valid commercial driver's licenses?
- Will the curriculum cover all of the topics and skills you'll need to master for your specific CDL's required tests?
In-Class Oklahoma CDL Test Prep
The curriculum of the in-class CDL test prep course that you choose should at least cover the topics that you'll need to know about for the written general knowledge exam, including:
- Doing a full vehicle inspection before, during, and after a trip.
- Basic vehicle functions (e.g. acceleration and braking).
- Using automatic and manual transmissions.
- Sharing the road with non-commercial vehicles.
- Maintaining a safe speed during:
- Sharp turns.
- Steep downgrades.
- Slipper road surfaces.
- Keeping a safe amount of space around your vehicle at all times.
- Seeing and dealing with hazards like:
- Extreme weather conditions.
- Objects/pedestrians in the road.
- Bad drivers.
- The dangers of driving while distracter or impaired.
- Managing emergency situations.
In addition to the general knowledge exam, you could also have to take additional written commercial driver tests, depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of your CDL.
The other test topics you could have to prepare for include:
- Transporting passengers.
- Working with hazardous materials.
- Pulling a liquid or gas-filled tanker.
- Operating a school bus.
- Hauling double or triple trailers.
- Driving a vehicle with air brakes.
When you feel that you've prepared enough, make an appointment at the nearest OK Department of Public Safety CDL testing office.
OK Behind-the-Wheel CDL Test Prep
When you pass all of the DPS-required written tests, you'll be given a commercial learner permit (CLP), which you can use to practice driving your commercial vehicle of choice. You must hold a CLP for at least 14 days before going in to take your Oklahoma CDL road test.
So, since you'll have the time, consider taking a behind-the-wheel CDL training program. Doing so will ensure that you've learned all of the necessary skills for acing your CDL road skills test.
The skills that you'll be expected to perform for the commercial driver license behind-the-wheel exam include:
- Parallel parking and docking.
- Safely driving through railroad crossings and intersections.
- Entering and exiting from moving traffic and expressways.
- Using basic safety skills like:
- Checking your mirrors.
- Using your turn signals.
- Staying in your own lane.
Like the Oklahoma DPS CDL written testing, you might have to learn additional skills for your road test, depending on the classification and endorsement(s) of your commercial driver's license.
The other behind-the-wheel material you could be expected to master includes:
- Extensive pre-trip vehicle inspection for all trailers and buses.
- Pre-trip air brakes check.
- Shifting gears with a manual transmission.
- Letting students off of a school bus.
When you feel comfortable driving your commercial vehicle, call (405) 425-2196 to make a CDL road skills test appointment.
OK CDL Self-Study Guide
If enrolling in a commercial driver's license test prep course is seeming like too much of a money and time commitment, remember that you always have the option of studying on your own.
The Oklahoma Commercial Driver License Manual has all of the information that you need to know in order to pass the Department of Public Safety's CDL exams. As an additional study tool, you can take some online CDL practice tests. Doing so will familiarize you with the format of the DPS' written tests as well as let you know which parts of the manual you need to revisit.
As long as you're a determined and disciplined studier, you'll certainly be able to pass the necessary commercial driver's license exams.