If you want to pursue a career as a truck driver then you need to pass your DOT physical exam. The exam focuses on various aspects of a driver’s health and failing one of the tests can result in their driving privileges being revoked.
This exam is mandatory by law since operating a commercial vehicle entails numerous risks. The results of your exam are valid for 24 months unless you have a health concern that needs to be monitored more closely.
We understand these strict guidelines can make the process a tad overwhelming. Therefore, to make it easier we’ve provided a brief overview of what’s included in the DOT physical exam. Let’s begin.
Who Needs a DOT Physical Exam?
The DOT physical exam is required by law for those who:
- Haul hazardous materials
- Participate in interstate travel
- Operate a vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000+ pounds
- Can carry more than 15 passengers
What Are the Doctors Checking For?
The main purpose of the DOT physical exam is to verify whether a driver is physically fit to perform their duties. The medical examiner is aware of the many stressors that come with the job, such as navigating difficult routes and long hours. Therefore, the doctor will be assessing whether or not the driver can do the following safely:
- Perform vehicle checks
- Load, unload, and secure cargo
- Attach and detach trailers
- Enter and exit the cab
- Operate the dash controls and switches
- Use and adjust the side mirrors
- Maintain control over the steering wheel
- Stay alert
- Shift gears
The main thing medical examiners are looking for is whether or not you have an illness or health issue that interferes with the above tasks. As a truck driver, you’re responsible for both your safety and those around you.
What’s Included in the Exam?
DOT physical exams can be quite extensive. Therefore, we’ve provided a complete breakdown of what the exam consists of.
A Physical Exam
The physical exam exists to make sure drivers don’t have any serious ailments that could leave them feeling fatigued behind the wheel. Such things can include medications that cause drowsiness, such as high blood pressure medications and antidepressants.
During this test, they will also check your upper and lower body strength, flexibility, balance, and grip strength.
A Urinalysis Test
The medical examiner will perform this test to check your glucose, blood, and protein levels.
A Pulse Rate and Blood Pressure Test
BP tests are especially important, as they can affect your certification. If blood pressure levels are higher than usual, the examiner may issue a medical certificate that’s only good for a few months. If this is the case then you’ll have to get physicals done more frequently to keep your medical card valid.
A Hearing Test
A driver should be able to hear a whispered voice from no less than five feet away. Also, they shouldn’t have hearing loss greater than 40 decibels in one ear.
A Vision Test
A driver should have:
- At least 20/40 visual acuity in each eye
- The ability to distinguish between different colors
- A FOV of 70° in each eye
A Health History Form
You’ll also need to fill out a health history form. If you answer yes to any of the questions then your examiner will follow up with you from time to time to make sure you’re still physically fit enough for the job.
The DOT physical exam is critical and plays a big role in the overall safety of your fleet and the general public.
Also, it’s important to note that having a medical condition doesn’t automatically disqualify you as a driver. You may just need more frequent physical exams and monitoring than others.