Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) Online Course FAQs

What is ELDT?

ELDT stands for Entry-Level Driving Training. ELDT is required as of February 7, 2022, for all U.S. drivers seeking to:

  • Obtain a CDL Class A or CDL Class B for the first time
  • Upgrade an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
  • Obtain certain CDL endorsements for the first time, including school bus (S), passenger (P) or hazardous materials (H)

Training requirements for ELDT are located in 49 CFR Part 380. ELDT establishes a uniform federal standard for commercial driver training. CDL training must be approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It contains important information designed to help students become safe, responsible and effective commercial drivers.

ELDT standards were first adopted in 2012 under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21, in an effort to improve driver training, unify teaching standards and make America’s roadways safer.

You must complete an FMCSA-approved ELDT course before taking the CDL skills test.

What is a commercial driver’s license (CDL)?

A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, permits the holder to operate many kinds of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). If you want to drive a bus, 18-wheeler, delivery truck or other commercial vehicle, you need a CDL. Certain types of vehicles require a specific CDL class or CDL endorsement.

Driving a CMV requires different skills than operating a typical passenger car. To obtain a CDL, drivers must complete an approved ELDT program and pass both a written test and a skills test. A CDL must be issued by the driver’s home state. For more information about commercial driver’s license requirements, visit the FMCSA website or contact your state licensing bureau (Department of Motor Vehicles or local equivalent).

What is a Class A CDL?

A Class A commercial driver’s license authorizes individuals to drive combination vehicles with a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, including towed units weighing more than 10,000 pounds. With a Class A CDL, you can operate vehicles such as tractor-trailers, tanker trucks, livestock carriers and flatbed trucks paired with trailers.

What is a Class B CDL?

A Class B commercial driver’s license enables individuals to drive single-unit vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more. This category includes vehicles such as buses, straight trucks and delivery trucks. Drivers with a Class B CDL cannot drive combination vehicles with trailers. They can transport passengers and hazardous materials with the proper CDL endorsements.

What is a Class C CDL?

A Class C CDL is a commercial driver license that allows individuals to operate vehicles with a GVWR less than 26,001 pounds that are designed to carry 16 or more passengers (including the driver) or transport hazardous materials.

What is a CDL endorsement?

CDL endorsements are additional designations added to a CDL that allow drivers to operate specialized equipment, transport hazardous substances, transport passengers and more. Endorsements are issued to drivers who complete required training and pass assessments related to the specific endorsement.

Each endorsement comes with its own set of regulations and requirements. Some common CDL endorsements include the hazardous materials endorsement (H) for transporting HAZMAT, the passenger (P) endorsement for carrying passengers and the school bus (S) endorsement for transporting students to and from school.

Having endorsements on your CDL not only expands your skill set and versatility as a commercial driver but also allows you to pursue a wider range of job opportunities within the commercial driving industry.

How old do I have to be to earn a CDL?

In all 50 states, 18 is the minimum age to receive any class of CDL. Drivers younger than 21 may only drive commercially within their home state. Crossing a state line while driving a commercial vehicle is considered interstate commerce. You must be at least 21 years of age to drive a CMV during interstate commerce under 49 CFR 391.11.

Once you turn 21, you are allowed to use your CDL to drive state-to-state as part of your job. If you are younger than 21, you can apply for the FMCSA’s commercial driver apprenticeship program, called the Safe Driver Apprenticeship Pilot Program (SDAP), to explore a career in interstate commercial trucking. The program allows drivers under 21 to operate in interstate commerce when accompanied by a qualified and experienced driver in the passenger seat.

What is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?

The FMCSA is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) that focuses on creating a safe driving environment for all Americans by regulating commercial motor vehicles. The FMCSA serves as the regulatory authority overseeing the safety and operations of interstate commercial transportation.

FMCSA responsibilities include developing and enforcing safety regulations for the trucking industry, conducting research to improve safety practices, providing educational resources to industry stakeholders and implementing programs to prevent commercial driving accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Are SafeMotorist ELDT courses approved by the FMCSA?

Yes. SafeMotorist’s Entry-Level Driver Training courses and CDL endorsement courses are approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and satisfy all federal standards for ELDT.

On the Training Provider Registry website, you can confirm our approval by searching for SafeMotorist in the Provider Name field. You can click the Online tab to see our FMCSA-approved ELDT courses.

ELDT satisfies federal training standards for new commercial drivers, but state-specific requirements may also apply. Check with your local DMV to confirm all requirements for earning your CDL or endorsement.

Which CDL class training should I take?

You should take an ELDT course that matches the class of CDL you want to obtain. If you do not currently hold a CDL of any class, you can start with Class A CDL training or Class B CDL training.

If you currently hold a Class B CDL, we offer Entry-Level Driver Training to upgrade your license to a Class A CDL.

How long is ELDT training?

While the content of each ELDT course differs, all our training programs contain approximately four hours of instructional content. You must finish all lesson modules to complete the course.

Our ELDT courses automatically save your progress. You can stop and start the training as many times as you want. Train at your pace from any internet-connected device.

After completing ELDT, you must earn a score of at least 80% on the required theory assessment to qualify for your CDL. To earn your license, you must pass a physical exam, acquire a commercial learner’s permit and take the CDL skills test at a local licensing agency.

What will I learn in CDL training?

Under FMCSA standards, ELDT consists of two parts: a theory (knowledge) portion and a behind-the-wheel (BTW) portion. SafeMotorist’s ELDT courses satisfy the theory portion of your required training.

Our CDL Class A and CDL Class B to A Upgrade courses provide the regulatory knowledge and skill training needed to succeed as a CMV driver. They will prepare you to operate the types of vehicles belonging to that class of commercial motor vehicles.

Topics include safe operating procedures, night operation, backing and docking, hours of service requirements, roadside inspections and more.

Are your ELDT training courses appropriate for beginners?

Yes! The “EL” in ELDT stand for entry-level. These courses are specifically designed for drivers who have no previous experience with commercial motor vehicles. These courses are beginner-friendly introductions to the world of commercial trucking. They break down the sometimes complex and technical information you need to drive a CMV into easily understood lessons that will prepare you for your CDL knowledge test and skills exam.

What do I get at the end of ELDT training?

Once you complete one of our Entry-Level Driver Training courses, you can immediately download and print your certificate of completion. This certificate shows that you have completed the required theory portion of ELDT.

We report your training to the Training Provider Registry within two business days after you successfully complete the course. You can check on the status of your course completion by visiting the FMCSA website.

What do I have to do after completing ELDT to receive my CDL?

After completing the theory portion of your Entry-Level Driver Training with our course, you must complete the behind-the-wheel training portion of ELDT. To find an approved BTW training provider, visit the FMCSA’s Training Provider Registry.

You must also pass a physical exam and earn a commercial learner’s permit. Finally, you will need to sit for your CDL test. Contact your local DMV (or equivalent agency) for details about CDL testing in your area.

Is ELDT required before I take my CDL exam?

You must complete an FMCSA-approved ELDT course before you can take the CDL test.

However, you can obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) before completing Entry-Level Driver Training. The CLP allows you to practice driving with some additional restrictions. For example, you must drive under the supervision of another driver who currently holds a CDL. Check with your local licensing bureau for more information about obtaining a CLP.