As a commercial driver, it’s important to know the requirements for passing a DOT physical. The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires commercial drivers to take these exams to make sure they are both physically and mentally fit to drive a commercial vehicle safely.
The driver’s medical history, a physical exam, and any needed lab tests or imaging are all part of the physical. The goal of a DOT physical is to find any health problems that might make it unsafe for a driver to operate a commercial vehicle.
Before you get too nervous, we’ll share with you a valuable resource that anyone can use to tackle manageable issues before they become something that could derail your DOT physical.
Understanding DOT Physicals
A DOT physical is a thorough checkup on a driver before they start driving a commercial vehicle. It is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for drivers of vehicles that carry dangerous materials or have a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of more than 10,001 pounds.
A certified medical examiner who is on the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners is the one who does the DOT physical. The medical examiner will look at your medical history, do a physical exam, and, if needed, order any lab tests or imaging that is needed. You must meet the minimum requirements set forth by the FMCSA to pass the physical.
What is Required to Pass a DOT Physical?
There are several aspects of a DOT physical that are required to pass.
The examiner will look over your medical history for any underlying health problems that might make driving a commercial vehicle unsafe. Any current medications you are taking and any medical conditions you have been diagnosed with will be reviewed.
We understand that getting on the road as quickly as possible is important. However, being as forthcoming as possible about your medical history during the DOT physical is a good idea. It’s important for you to be in the best position to do your job as well as keep the public and other drivers from being put at risk.
The physical examination includes a check of the driver’s vision, hearing, blood pressure, pulse, and overall physical condition. The driver must meet the minimum vision requirement of 20/40 vision in each eye and be able to hear a forced whisper from five feet away. The examination will also include a check of the driver’s cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems, as well as a check for any signs of substance abuse.
Lab tests may require urinalysis, drug testing, and others. These tests are done to determine if the driver has anything in their system that might make it difficult or unsafe to drive a commercial vehicle safely. There may even be things you are unaware of that a lab test will be able to shed light on. If a driver has a history of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, they may also have to go through a sleep study.
Remember that you will need to provide current certification for any medical devices or medications you use, such as inhalers or insulin pumps. You will have to show proof that they are up-to-date and needed for ongoing care.
How to Increase Your Odds of Passing the DOT Physical
Even though the DOT physical is meant to find any health problems that might make it unsafe for a driver to operate a commercial vehicle, commercial drivers can take steps to improve their chances of passing. Here are a few tips to help you increase your odds of passing your DOT physical:
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Keeping a healthy lifestyle, like working out regularly, eating a balanced diet, and not smoking, can help improve your overall health and make it more likely that you will pass your DOT physical. Health challenges often associated with commercial drivers can be one of the major barriers to passing your DOT physical.
Keep Your Medical Records Up to Date
Make sure that your medical records are up-to-date and accurate. This includes keeping track of any medications you are currently taking and any medical conditions you have been diagnosed with. Be sure to provide this information to the medical examiner during your DOT physical.
Get a Pre-Exam Check-up
Consider getting a pre-exam check-up with your primary care physician before your DOT physical. This can help you find any problems that might come up during the physical and give you a chance to talk about any worries you might have. Plus, there’s a lot of red tape and delay if you wait until your physical to discover any issues. Having a clinic like ours catch any issues ahead of time can save you the hassle of jumping through the DOT process a second time.
Get Enough Sleep
Make sure you are getting enough sleep before your DOT physical. Getting enough sleep can improve your overall health and make you more likely to pass the physical. Conditions such as sleep apnea are common among commercial drivers. Before you go in for your physical, you should talk to a doctor or nurse about this. This way, you’ll have documentation and verification that the condition is being addressed and properly treated.
The DOT physical is a key part of ensuring that commercial drivers are physically and mentally fit to drive a commercial vehicle safely.
Commercial drivers have a better chance of passing their DOT physical and staying in their field if they are ready and know what they need to do. It’s a good idea to do everything possible in advance. Failing it could mean a longer process of getting treatment and then getting examined again.
In these cases, working with Anderson Walk-In Clinic can be a great way to make sure you’re set to go. If you’ve got some things that may hamper passing your DOT physical, we’re here to help with that, too.
We work with you, and your insurance to ensure that the necessary medical treatment is accessible and affordable. If you are facing difficulty passing a DOT physical or are just lacking clarity, schedule an appointment at one of our offices, and we can help get you moving in the right direction.