Commercial Drivers Education in Connecticut
A resource for CT CDL drivers, with trucking schools, application info, and more.
For commercial vehicles, like a truck, tractor-trailer, or school bus, a commercial drivers license is necessary. It is not obligatory to take a commercial driver's education course in order to get your commercial driver's license (CDL) in Connecticut. However not technically mandatory, commercial driver's education is really necessary to understand the intricacies that are crucial in obtaining a CDL and operating successfully on the job.
FEDERAL REGULATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL DRIVING
Federal regulations for commercial driving are the same for all states in the US. The regulations are administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and are designed for the safety of the drivers and that of the general public.
COMMERCIAL DRIVERS' STATE REGULATIONS
The state of Connecticut requires you to successfully complete certain tests to obtain your CDL before you can legally drive a commercial vehicle. These tests depend on the type of CDL and the number and type of endorsements on it. You will need to perform written knowledge, air brake inspection, and road, exams. Apart from these driver exams, the test vehicle also has to undergo an examiner inspection. For all the requirements go to our application page.
Connecticut has also adopted the U.S. Division of Motor Vehicles Hazardous Materials Regulations which includes the mandatory training and testing of commercial drivers who transport hazardous materials.
Drivers who apply for a CDL in order to drive school buses need to have an additional school bus endorsement on their CDL which should mention that it is legal for them to drive 15 or more people beside themselves. The school bus endorsement requires drivers to clear a special knowledge test based on driving safety, passengers and school buses. If there are air brakes on the school bus, a section on the test will cover them. The driver must also clear the skills test required to drive the school bus.
CERTIFIED TRUCK DRIVING PROGRAMS IN THE US
In The US, truck driving courses are certified by a single organization, The Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI) in Alexandria, Virginia. Though PTDI certification is not mandatory, it indicates that the school maintains good training standards for truck drivers, since PTDI certification is based on the driving skills that the school teaches the driver, the theoretical knowledge about truck driving that they offer, and their curriculum.
There are three types of training schools for truck driving:
- There are the private schools which are run by privately owned establishments like corporate houses. Their main aim is to train people to join the truck driving industry which has a high level of demand. Their programs are typically of a good standard.
- Public schools - government run programs through colleges or institutes, usually at a subsidized cost.
- The third type is on the job training offered by carriers themselves with an aim to get the trainees to work for them. These training programs are usually not the best and only impart enough knowledge and skills to get a CDL.
If a school is PTDI certified, it has to meet the PTDI standards. This includes providing 44 hours of driving experience and a standard curriculum that not only gives the basic training for getting a CDL, but also includes a variety of other topics that the trainee should know about in order to safely and successfully get a CDL as well as to operate a truck.
HOW TO PICK A GOOD TRAINING SCHOOL FOR TRUCK DRIVING
A good first step in finding info is look at program brochures or catalogues. Most decent school will present everything that is offered from the course, in the booklet. The catalogue should inform you about:
- how the program is involved with truck driving (how it helps with licensing and recruitment).
- the facilities it offers and the codes of conduct that it follows.
- what type of courses are available and the how to apply.
- expenses for receiving a CDL and for taking the courses.
- the refund policy in the event that you drop out of the course or are asked to leave.
- the school's expectations from the student in terms of successful completion of the course, how the students will be evaluated, how they will be graded and what they need to do to graduate from the course.
DURATION OF TRAINING
The length of commercial education courses given by various school is different as there are no set standards for the same. An established school will note the duration in details on their brochure, clearly outlining how many hours would be spent in actual driving and how many in the classroom. Physical driving experience time is the most important. PTDI standards stipulate 44 hours of driving experience and 104 hours classroom and lab time. This standard is good to compare when selecting courses.
It is recommended by experts to complete training that takes 4-6 weeks, with daily classes. Good schools have longer courses to enable students to get more personal attention and more driving experience behind the wheels, rather than observing other students driving.
GRADUATION AND PLACEMENT AFTER TRAINING PROGRAM
In most cases, programs will award a certificate or diploma upon completion of the course. These certificates and diplomas provide a good value for comparison of workers when employers are deciding on positions. This proof is also required by their insurance providers as part of the new hire processes. Programs that are done by companies themselves, in house, typically do not offer a diploma, and give the employee less options for mobility.
A mark of a good school is their process for helping graduates find jobs upon or before they enter the workforce. Many schools will offer presentations and interview fares with industry professionals.
Placement rates are given by some programs detailing what the rate of employment is for graduates upon completion of the course. They target to increase these rates through interview and resume prep and networking. Some programs offer lifetime placement assistance.
- Since training schools are evaluated on the basis of their placement rates, it is important to complete a commercial driver's education program from a good school before you apply for a CDL. This ensures that you become a safe driver and are also able to get a good job.
- See CDL Basics and How to Renew a CDL.