CDL Physical Requirements

If you’re looking to drive trucks with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you must first meet the CDL physical requirements and obtain a medical card before driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). CDL physical requirements include testing your vision, color distinction, blood pressure, hearing, cardiovascular health, medications, urinalysis, physical endurance, and medical history. 

The physical exam is likely similar to others you’ve taken in the past, but to work as a truck driver, you must take a test with specific guidelines determined by the federal Department of Transportation. Only after you complete a pre-employment screening for CDL physical requirements are you allowed to get on the road.

You can find more information about the CDL physical requirements and the exam you will have to pass below.

What are the CDL Physical Requirements?

Before you can even begin working as a truck driver, you are mandated to meet CDL physical requirements that will be checked by a DOT-approved medical examiner. Once you start work, you’ll have to retake the test every two years to show that you’re in top shape to work. Here are some of the CDL physical requirements that will come up on your test.

Vision

Because it’s so crucial to see clearly when driving, you must meet the CDL 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 when taking the test.

Color Distinction

Color blindness can cause difficulties if you have trouble differentiating between the red, yellow, and green colors used in traffic lights. If you’re unable to distinguish between these hues, contact your eye doctor. You may be able to wear special contact lenses to correct this issue so that you can meet CDL physical requirements.

Blood Pressure

To be certified to work as a truck driver, your blood pressure should be less than 140/90. If you have a history of high blood pressure, doctors recommend that you avoid smoking cigarettes and consuming caffeine.

Hearing

It’s important that truck drivers are aware of their surroundings. To meet CDL physical requirements, you have to be able to hear a forced whisper from five feet away. Hearing aids are allowed during the test, as long as you can still perceive the sound from five feet away in at least one ear.

Cardiovascular Health

You will have to get your doctor or cardiologist to sign off on your exam if you’ve had any cardiovascular health issues in the past. You should meet CDL physical requirements as long as you’ve recovered from any previous cardiovascular issues.

Medications

If you’re taking any medications, they must not affect your ability to drive a truck on the road. If you are taking any medications or have a medical condition that presents a safety risk, you may be disqualified from obtaining a medical card. You will most likely need to get your primary care physician to provide a release stating that the medication or condition will not affect your ability to drive. If you have questions or concerns regarding personal medications or medical conditions, call your doctor.

Urinalysis

In addition to taking a drug test, you will need to provide a urine specimen. The sample will be tested for specific gravity/dehydration, proteins, glucose levels, and the presence of blood, and the results will rule out any underlying medical conditions you might not know about so you know you’re fit to drive.

Physical Endurance

When driving a truck, you have to sit and steer for extended periods of time, and you need to 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 you’ve had in the past and make sure there are no limits to your range of motion.

Medical History

As part of your CDL physical requirements, you’ll be required to submit your complete medical history, including a list of past and recent surgeries, medications you’re currently taking, ongoing medical conditions, and any history of substance abuse. You’re also required to list if you have a history of diabetes, sleep apnea, epilepsy, or any other conditions that might make driving unsafe.

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Meeting CDL Physical Requirements

All DOT physical exams are conducted by a medical examiner who is approved by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The examiner will check to ensure that you meet CDL physical requirements and can safely handle the physical and mental demands of the job. The FMSCA registry lists certified medical examiners in your area.

To prepare to be tested for the CDL physical requirements, DOT medical examiners recommend that you eat well and cut down on caffeine, salt, and sugar in the days before your test. Make sure your medications and prescriptions for glasses or contacts are recent. And bring a complete medical history from your primary care physician so that the medical examiner has everything needed to make an informed decision.

After the test, the medical examiner sends your results directly to your state’s licensing agency. The results of your CDL physical requirements test are valid for up to two years unless the examiner decides that a specific medical condition, like high blood pressure, needs to be monitored more frequently.  After you pass, you’ll receive a certificate or medical card that allows you to drive large trucks until it expires.

If you have any questions or concerns about your health, check with your doctor before taking your exam to meet CDL physical requirements. Make sure to have your medical history on hand so that you can provide notes from your primary care physician if the medical examiner has any questions about your ability to fulfill CDL physical requirements.

CDL Physical Requirements at TDI

At TDI, you’ll take a drug test and an exam to meet CDL physical requirements during your orientation, as part of our three-week program to get you on the road faster. Because you’ll have to pass a test for CDL physical requirements at the beginning of the program, you’ll already be vetted and meet the standards of all of our partner employers. Our goal is for you to be driving as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about the CDL physical requirements or about TDI’s industry-leading training intensive, give us a call and we’ll be happy to talk you through the process.

Jon and Tammy Walker

Truck Driver Institute was the best choice for us. TDI allowed us to explore all carriers opportunities. The instructors were top notch, caring supportive and patient. We would recommend TDI to anyone interested in a career in the trucking industry.

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