Commercial Driver Education in Utah
Home to a melting pot of natural wonders, you'll never come across a dull view while driving through Utah. Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to be able to make a living by traveling and experience all that Utah (and possibly other states) has to offer?
If so, consider applying for a UT commercial driver's license (CDL) through the state's Driver License Division (DLD). The DLD will expect you to pass a series of tests proving you've learned all of the driving and safety skills needed to operate a commercial vehicle.
In preparation for the DLD's commercial driver license tests, you are not state-required to enroll in commercial Driver's Ed. HOWEVER, certain commercial drivers must complete trainings specific to their occupation before legally being able to work.
Read on for more information about mandatory commercial driver training and optional CDL test prep courses in Utah.
IMPORTANT FEDERAL TRAINING REQUIREMENTS UPDATE
Per new federal entry-level driver training requirements effective February 7, 2022, the UT Driver License Division 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 Utah
If you're planning to be a school bus driver in Utah, you will need the following pieces of documentation before you're legally able to transport students:
- Valid UT commercial driver's license with school bus (S) and passenger (P) endorsements.
- School bus driver certification.
After passing the Driver License Division's required CDL testing, you'll be eligible to get your Utah school bus driver certification. For initial certification, you'll need to complete at least 20 hours of pre-service training with the school district/institution that's hired you. This training includes, but is not limited to:
- Standard operating procedures and basic student transporting topics.
- Safety training, such as CPR, defensive driving, and first aid.
- This component can be included in your pre-service instruction, or completed within the first 90 days of working for your school.
After completing all of the initial training, you'll be certified as a Utah school bus driver. In order to maintain your status as a legal school bus driver, you'll need to complete the following:
- 8 hours of annual in-service training.
- Recertification training every 4 years to coincide with your CDL renewal.
For more information about school bus driver training in Utah, contact the State Board of Education's transportation instruction and certification specialist at (801) 538-7500.
Optional Utah CDL Education
As you read above, UT commercial driver license applicants are not state-required to enroll in CDL test prep classes. Despite this, you should still really consider taking a class since doing so will improve your chances of being able to pass the Driver License Division's required CDL exams in a single go.
All Utah CDL applicants must pass the following exams:
- Written general knowledge exam.
- Behind-the-wheel CDL skills exam.
Depending on your desired CDL's classification and endorsement(s), the DLD could also require you to pass additional tests specific to your type of license. Because of this, it's important to know exactly which classification and endorsement(s) apply to your UT commercial driver's license as to avoid any unpleasant surprises on testing day.
Check out our other pages for more info on CDL-related regulations and documents:
Selecting a CDL Test Prep Course
Consider these important reasons for why you should think about enrolling in a commercial Driver's Ed program:
- Before considering you for a job, a majority of Utah employers will require that you've already completed some formal commercial driver training.
- Preparatory commercial Driver's Ed classes are designed specifically to ensure you'll be able to pass the Driver License Division's CDL tests with ease.
There are different types of CDL test prep courses that will prepare you for the different kinds of CDL exams:
- An in-class course will acquaint you with the topics and layout of the DLD's written tests.
- Completing some behind-the-wheel instruction will ensure that you're familiar with the vehicle and skills that you'll need to be comfortable with for the DLD's road skills test.
As you begin to narrow down your options, make sure you ask the following crucial questions about each Utah CDL test prep program that you're considering:
- Is the course tuition and duration a reasonable fit for your personal finances and schedule?
- Do certified CDL instructors who hold valid UT commercial driver licenses teach all of the classes?
- What's included on the course curriculum? Does it cover all of the topics and skills you need to master for your specific CDL's written and road exams?
Utah CDL Classroom Course
If you decide to prepare for the Driver License Division's written CDL testing by taking a classroom course, you'll want to look for a program with a curriculum that at least covers the topics you'll need to be familiar with for the general knowledge exam, including (but not limited to):
- Steps to performing full vehicle inspections before, during, and after trips.
- Manual and automatic transmissions.
- Establishing an effective field of vision.
- Communicating with the traffic around you.
- Controlling vehicle speed while:
- Driving on icy/slippery roads.
- Making sharp turns.
- In heavy traffic.
- Managing the space around your vehicle.
- Dealing with hazards like:
- Objects in the road.
- Erratic drivers.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Driving in harsh weather conditions.
- Correct handling of emergency situations.
Keep in mind that the Utah DLD will give you additional written tests if the classification and endorsement(s) on your commercial driver's license require it. The other written CDL test topics include:
- Passenger transport.
- Vehicles with air brakes.
- Driving combination vehicles.
- Working with hazardous materials.
- Tankers filled with gas or liquid.
- Double and triple trailers.
- School bus operation.
When you're ready to take the DLD's written commercial driver test(s), contact your local Driver License Division office and schedule an appointment. Note that some offices may not conduct CDL testing—your agent will direct you to the nearest location that does.
UT Behind-the-Wheel CDL Training
After you've passed all of the DLD's required written testing, you'll receive a CDL learner permit. Having a Utah CDL learner permit allows you to legally practice driving a commercial vehicle in preparation for the Driver License Division's road skills exam.
By law, you're required to hold your CDL learner permit for at least 14 days before taking the DLD's behind-the-wheel test. If you've never held a commercial driver's license, chances are you'll need the time to practice operating your commercial vehicle anyways.
One of the most effective ways to prepare for the Utah DLD road skills test is to take a behind-the-wheel CDL training program. The program you choose to enroll in should minimally teach you the skills that all Utah CDL applicants need to perform for the CDL road skills test, including (but not limited to):
- Reversing and parking exercises (e.g. docking in an alley or parallel parking).
- Turning left and right.
- Merging out of and back into the flow of moving traffic.
- Proceeding through railroad crossings.
- Basic safety practices like:
- Correct brake usage.
- Staying in your lane.
- Keeping both hands on the steering wheel.
Similar to the CDL written examination process, the DLD will require you to execute additional behind-the-wheel skills if the classification and endorsement(s) on your desired UT commercial driver license warrant it. The other skills you could be expected to demonstrate include:
- Extended pre-trip inspection for:
- Vehicles equipped with air brakes.
- School, transit, and coach buses.
- Properly shifting gears with a manual transmission.
- Boarding and discharging students from a school bus.
When you're ready to schedule a CDL road skills test, contact a third-party testing location approved by the Driver License Division to set up your appointment.
UT CDL Self-Study Guide
You always have the option of studying for the Utah Driver License Division's commercial driver exams on your own.* Perhaps this is your most viable option if the time and financial commitment of a commercial Driver's Ed course are going to put too much of a strain on your personal life.
All of the material you need to know for the DLD's written and road exams is in the Utah Commercial Driver License Handbook. As you study, make sure to read over every section with information about your particular CDL's classification and endorsement(s).
When you think you have a general understanding of the material, consider taking some practice tests. These will help to gauge how ready you are to take the DLD's tests, as well as give you some idea of what difficulty and format to expect on the written CDL exams. Plus, you can study from the comfort of your own home and learn at a pace that's right for you.
As long as you're dedicated to your studies and have the right resources at your disposal, you'll be able to get your Utah commercial driver's license without a problem.
* NOTE: If you're a Utah school bus driver, you cannot complete initial certification or recertification training on your own. Instead, you must receive training from the school district/institution that's employing you.