DOT Physical Exam Requirements & What to Expect
DOT Physical Exam
In order to drive a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), you must first meet the DOT physical exam requirements and obtain a medical card. DOT physical exam requirements include:
- Color distinction
- Blood pressure
- Cardiovascular health
- Physical endurance
- Medical history
While this might be similar to other physicals you’ve had in the past, truck drivers must take a specific test that meets federal DOT guidelines before they are allowed to get on the road.
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What are the DOT Physical Exam Requirements?
It’s important to see clearly on the road. Drivers must meet the vision requirement of at least 20/40 on the Snellen eye test in both eyes with or without corrective lenses. Glasses or contact lenses are allowed.
If you are color blind or have problems distinguishing between the red, yellow, and green colors used in traffic signals, contact your eye doctor. There are special contact lenses available that may be able to correct this issue so that you can pass the DOT physical exam.
Truck drivers with blood pressure less than 140/90 may be medically certified to drive for a two-year period. If you’re worried about high blood pressure, remember that smoking cigarettes and drinking caffeine can cause a rise in blood pressure.
Truck drivers must be aware of everything around them. To pass the DOT physical exam, you must be able to hear a forced whisper from five feet away. Hearing aids are allowed as long as you can perceive the sound from five feet away in at least one ear.
If you’ve had any cardiovascular health issues, your doctor or cardiologist will need to sign off on your health before receiving your medical card. As long as you’ve recovered from any previous cardiovascular issues, you should be good to pass your DOT physical exam.
Any medications you are on must not affect your ability to drive a CMV on the road. Any medication or medical condition that presents a safety risk could disqualify you from obtaining a medical card. You may still be able to receive a medical card if your primary care physician provides a release stating that the medication or condition will not affect your ability to drive. Check with your doctor if you have questions or concerns regarding medications or medical conditions.
In addition to a DOT-approved drug test, you will be asked to provide a urine specimen which will be tested for specific gravity/dehydration, proteins, glucose levels, and the presence of blood. The results will be used to rule out any underlying medical conditions and make sure you’re fit to drive.
As a truck driver, you will be required to sit and steer for long periods of time, and you must be able to climb in and out of the cab, couple and uncouple trailers, climb ladders, and inspect the vehicle and cargo. The medical examiner will consider any surgeries or limits to range of motion that may affect your ability to perform these duties.
At your DOT physical exam, you’ll be required to disclose your complete medical history, including past and recent surgeries, medications you’re currently taking, ongoing medical conditions, and any history of substance abuse. You’ll also need to note if you have a history of diabetes, sleep apnea, epilepsy, or any other conditions that might put you in danger while driving.
Passing the DOT Physical Exam
All DOT physical exams are conducted by a medical examiner who is approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The examiner makes sure the driver can safely meet the physical and mental demands of the job. Check the FMSCA registry to find a certified medical examiner in your area.
To prepare for your truck driving physical exam, DOT medical examiners recommend that you eat well and cut down on caffeine, salt, and sugar in the week leading up to your test. Make sure your medications and prescriptions for glasses or contacts are up to date. And bring a complete medical history from your doctor so that the medical examiner has as much information as possible.
Following the physical, the medical examiner will send your results directly to the licensing agency in your state. A DOT physical exam for truck drivers is valid for up to 24 months unless the examiner determines that a specific condition, like high blood pressure, needs to be monitored more frequently. You’ll receive a certificate or medical card that allows you to drive CMVs for that period of time.
If you have any questions or concerns about your health, check with your doctor before taking your DOT truck driving physical exam.
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