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Entry-Level Driver Training for Your Class A CDL

Become a skilled commercial driver with Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) for your Class A commercial driver’s license. This course is approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and satisfies the ELDT requirement for your CDL skills test.

As of February 2022, commercial drivers seeking a Class A CDL must complete ELDT with an FMCSA-approved provider. Our training program, crafted by experienced CDL instructors, equips you with the knowledge and expertise needed to confidently tackle the CDL Class A permit exam.

A Class A CDL allows you to operate combination vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, including a towed unit weighing more than 10,000 pounds. This includes vehicles such as truck and trailer combinations, tanker vehicles, livestock carriers and flatbeds.

Train online at your own pace and satisfy federal requirements for ELDT. As an added convenience, your course completion will be automatically reported to the FMCSA. As a trusted national provider of online driver safety training, we are here to guide you through Entry-Level Driver Training and prepare you to earn your CDL.

Is this Class A CDL course FMCSA Approved?

Yes, this program is approved by the FMCSA to satisfy Entry-Level Driver Training requirements for your Class A CDL.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is a regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). It is responsible for regulating and overseeing the safety of commercial motor vehicles and drivers operating on the nation's highways.

The FMCSA's primary role is to ensure the safety of commercial motor vehicles and drivers by enforcing regulations related to driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, carrier safety management and more.

When a program, course, training or entity is FMCSA approved, it means that it has met the standards and criteria set by the FMCSA for quality, safety and regulatory compliance in the context of the commercial motor vehicle industry.

To confirm that we are an FMCSA-approved provider, visit the FMCSA website and search for SafeMotorist in the Provider Name field. You can click the Online tab to view a list of our approved ELDT courses.

Note that certain states have additional requirements for CDL applicants. To learn more about state-specific requirements, contact your local DMV.

Who Needs the CDL Class A Course?

Individuals seeking a CDL Class A license or looking to upgrade their current license to operate combination vehicles, such as tractor-trailers and larger combinations, need the CDL Class A course. This includes newcomers entering the commercial driving field, those upgrading from a Class B CDL and individuals aiming to secure specific endorsements like hazardous materials (H) or school bus operations (S).

Additionally, those preparing for the CDL Class A permit and skills tests can benefit from our training. Whether you're a beginner or refining your skills, the CDL Class A course ensures you have the necessary knowledge and expertise to conquer commercial driving.

Course Outline

Module 1: Basic Operation

Module topics:

  • Orientation
  • Control Systems/Dashboard
  • Pre- and Post-Trip Inspections

Learning objectives:

  • Discuss the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
  • Understand the basic operating characteristics of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
  • Identify common CMV instruments and controls
  • Inspect CMVs

Module 2: Basic Operation Part 2

Module topics:

  • Basic Control
  • Shifting/Operating Transmissions
  • Backing and Docking
  • Coupling and Uncoupling

Learning objectives:

  • Describe how to control the motion of CMVs under various road and traffic conditions
  • Employ shifting and backing techniques
  • Properly couple and uncouple combination vehicles

Module 3: Safe Operating Procedures

Module topics:

  • Visual Search
  • Communication
  • Distracted Driving

Learning objectives:

  • Summarize what a visual search is
  • Describe proper communication
  • Identify distracted driving

Module 4: Safe Operating Procedures Part 2

Module topics:

  • Speed Management
  • Space Management
  • Night Operation
  • Extreme Driving Conditions

Learning objectives:

  • Outline speed and space management
  • Describe night operation of CMVs
  • Identify extreme driving conditions

Module 5: Advanced Operating Procedures

Module topics:

  • Hazard Perception
  • Skid Control/Recovery, Jackknifing and Other Emergencies
  • Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings

Learning objectives:

  • Identify advanced skills of CMV operation
  • Recognize potential driving hazards
  • Outline the procedures needed to handle a CMV when faced with a hazard

Module 6: Vehicle Systems and Reporting Malfunctions

Module topics:

  • Identification and Diagnosis of Malfunctions
  • Roadside Inspections
  • Maintenance

Learning objectives:

  • Identify major combination vehicle components, its systems and subsystems
  • Explain a driver’s responsibilities regarding vehicle inspection, operation and maintenance
  • Explain a driver’s role in highway safety and operating efficiently

Module 7: Non-Driving Activities

Module topics:

  • Handling and Documenting Cargo
  • Environmental Compliance Issues
  • Hours of Service Requirements
  • Fatigue and Wellness Awareness
  • Post-Crash Procedures

Learning objectives:

  • Explain handling and documenting cargo
  • Describe environmental compliance
  • Understand hours of service requirements
  • Identify fatigue and wellness awareness

Module 8: Non-Driving Activities Part 2

Module topics:

  • External Communications
  • Whistleblower/Coercion
  • Trip Planning
  • Drugs/Alcohol
  • Medical Requirements

Learning objectives:

  • Name post-crash procedure
  • Summarize trip planning
  • Discuss drug and alcohol awareness
  • Identify whistleblower/coercion
  • Summarize medical requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Class A CDL?

A Class A CDL is a type of commercial driver's license that allows you to operate combination vehicles, including tractor-trailers, tank vehicles and other truck and trailer combinations. Specifically, Class A applies to vehicles of 26,001 pounds or more where the towed unit is heavier than 10,000 pounds. Having your Class A CDL opens doors to a career in interstate trucking and opportunities for a higher earning potential.

Who needs a Class A CDL?

Earning a Class A commercial driver’s license presents a wide range of career opportunities in the transportation and logistics industry. To drive Class A vehicles such as tractor-trailers, flatbeds, livestock carriers, truck and trailer combinations and tank vehicles, you need a Class A CDL.

Drivers with a Class A CDL can pursue jobs such as long-haul trucking, regional delivery, local delivery, hazmat transport, tanker truck driving and more. With experience and expertise, some drivers may even become owner-operators or start their own trucking businesses.

Is there an age requirement to earn a Class A CDL?

Most states allow you to earn a commercial driver’s license at age 18. However, FMCSA requirements state that you must be 21 years old to engage in interstate commerce. This means you must be at least 21 to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines.

Some exceptions may apply, such as the FMCSA Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program. This program permits certain qualified drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 to operate commercial vehicles in other states.

What are the prerequisites for obtaining a Class A CDL?

To earn a Class A CDL, applicants must be at least 18 years old (for intrastate operation) or 21 years old (for interstate operation). They must also possess a valid driver's license and have a clean driving record. CDL applicants must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam, complete ELDT and acquire a commercial learner's permit (CLP) before taking the CDL skills test.

What will I learn in this course?

The Class A CDL course is designed to prepare individuals to obtain a Class A commercial driver's license. The course covers a wide range of topics, such as CDL regulations and requirements, vehicle inspection, vehicle controls and operations, safe operating practices, defensive driving techniques and more.

What does the Class A CDL skills test entail?

The Class A CDL skills test evaluates an applicant's proficiency in three main areas: vehicle inspection, basic controls and on-road driving. It requires candidates to demonstrate their ability to inspect the vehicle for safety, perform essential maneuvers and drive safely in various traffic situations.

What does the FMCSA-approved status of this course mean?

This Class A CDL training is FMCSA approved, which signifies that it meets all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration standards for ELDT outlined in 49 CFR Part 380. This approval ensures that our training program adheres to industry best practices, offering you a reliable and effective path toward obtaining your Class A commercial driver’s license.

Some states have specific requirements for CDL applicants that exceed federal standards. To ensure you satisfy all requirements for your license, contact your local DMV for more information.

Is formal training mandatory to obtain a Class A CDL?

Yes. As of February 2022, all commercial drivers are required to complete FMCSA-approved ELDT to earn a Class A CDL for the first time or to upgrade from a Class B CDL to Class A.

Are there specific regulations that Class A CDL holders must follow?

Yes. Class A CDL holders are subject to commercial driving regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation. These regulations govern areas such as hours-of-service (HOS) limits, mandatory rest breaks, weight limits and proper cargo securement. Follow these rules to ensure road safety and legal compliance.

How can Class A CDL holders maintain their driving skills and knowledge?

Continuous learning and improvement are essential for Class A CDL holders. Engaging in ongoing professional development, completing refresher courses and staying updated with industry trends and safety practices are all effective ways to maintain and enhance driving skills and knowledge.

Can I upgrade my Class B CDL to a Class A?

Yes, you can upgrade your Class B CDL to a Class A CDL. To do so, follow these steps:

  • Meet eligibility: Ensure you meet age, medical and record requirements.
  • Complete ELDT: Enroll in our CDL Class B to A Upgrade course.
  • Practice: Gain guided experience driving Class A vehicles.
  • Pass tests: Pass the Class A skills and knowledge tests.
  • Apply: Apply for a Class A CDL at your local DMV or agency.
  • Receive CDL: Receive your Class A CDL upon approval.

Procedures vary by state, so check your local requirements for accuracy.

» Explore more frequently asked questions about ELDT

CDL Class A Course

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