Setting Expectations For Your Upcoming DOT Physical

CDL Driver

Applying to become a DOT driver can be an exciting career opportunity. To be able to become one, you would need a DOT physical. A Department of Transportation physical helps ensure that professional drivers are in excellent shape to be able to protect the driver and others on the road from accidents. For driving commercial vehicles, this means that the driver needs to be able to operate across interstate lines without presenting high risks to themselves and other drivers. So, what is a DOT physical all about? We’re here to help guide you on your DOT physical and give you the best insight on what to expect when getting your examination.

Why Are DOT Physical Needed For Commercial Drivers?

DOT physicals may sound like an unnecessary exam, but in fact are some of the best ways healthcare providers, safety administrations, and commercial businesses can protect the public while on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has medical examination reports that govern these physicals, as they are required for those intended on operating commercial vehicles. These kinds of commercial vehicles include those with a gross vehicle weight of over 10,000 lbs, which are able to accommodate transporting large quantities of passengers or transporting hazardous materials.

The only people that can administer these physical tests are FMCSA certified medical providers, people who have specific FMCSA training and are registered with the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Once the physical is complete, the physical certification can be valid for up to two years. However, issues such as high blood pressure, sleeping disorders, heart disease, and other chronic conditions can cause the certification to be given for less than two years. It’s important for these physical examinations to be administered every two years because of the risks health conditions can have on drivers, increasing the risks of accidents while on the road.

What Makes Up A DOT Physical?

Usually, a DOT physical exam will consist of many different components, but those components are similar to worker’s compensation exams and physical exams for other job applications. These facets of the DOT medical exam include:

  • Medical History: During the physical, the person’s medical history and background histories, such as plastic surgeries, medications, and history of health conditions, would be looked at by the provider.
  • Vitals Tests: A significant section of the physical involves testing pulse, weight, height, and blood pressure, and these tests also require a urinalysis, which looks at the blood sugars, proteins, and blood in the urine to rule out any underlying medical issues.
  • Vision Tests: For commercial drivers, they need a standard of 20/40 vision acuity with or without glasses and at least a 70-degree field of vision horizontally.
  • Hearing Tests: Audiometry tests help measure the ability to hear sounds at different frequencies, and drivers need a good hearing to be able to be evaluated for hearing loss.
  • Drug Screens: The DOT also requires a drug screening, even though it is not part of the DOT physical exam. This test can also be performed during the physical examination.

Upon finishing the exam, the examiner will complete the assessment and help certify the driver for their full two-year period for their employment.


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