All major industry requires their employees to be in the best possible health. This is especially important if heavy-duty equipment and machinery are involved.
This is a crucial part of hiring new employees. It ensures their physical and mental health is in top condition to avoid industrial accidents.
So, if you’re due for a standard DOT physical exam, here’s what you can expect and a few tips to help you prepare.
What is the DOT Physical?
DOT refers to the Department of Transportation, which requires the health and safety examination of all new and long-term drivers.
For you to qualify as an eligible driver with the DOT, you’ll have to pass a DOT physical.
If you pass the DOT physical, this means that you have no physical or mental impairments that may affect your driving ability. You are then eligible to drive commercial vehicles and industrial goods across the country.
The importance of a DOT physical is not only for the drivers themselves but also for other drivers on the road. If you have to face a DOT physical and don’t want to fail, here’s what you can expect…
A Run Down of the DOT Physical Exam
The DOT exam takes into account your current and past medical history. So it’s essential to be as prepared as possible before you walk into a testing office. Here’s what the examination consists of:
1. A Vision Test
To pass the vision test, all drivers must have 70″ peripheral vision and 20/40 acuity in each eye, although 20/20 vision is optimal. Vision can be improved by corrective lenses if needed.
2. A Hearing Test
Along with your vision, your hearing is also vital to qualify as a commercial driver.
If your hearing is poor, it can be assisted with the help of a hearing aid. However, you must still be able to hear what’s known as a “forced whisper” from a distance of 5-feet, whether you wear a hearing aid or not.
3. Blood Pressure and Heart Health
If you suffer from hypertension, it’s wise to let the doctor know, including your medication, to manage the condition. The exam will test your blood pressure, regardless, as well as your heart rate for any irregularities.
4. Urine Testing
The urine test does not look for traces of drugs in your system — contrary to popular belief. It looks for sugar and protein abnormalities that point to diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. It also shows if there are any issues with your kidneys.
5. A Thorough Physical Exam
The exam also covers the basics of a complete physical. The doctor will check your ears, eyes, mouth, heart, lungs, and spine for all basic functions. They will also look at your vascular function and neurological alertness.
No matter where you take your DOT physical, the requirements for eligibility are all the same. This is because long-haul drivers cross state lines daily.
Do You Need to Renew a DOT Physical?
You must renew your DOT physical every two years as a commercial driver. This ensures you are still in good health and can safely operate a commercial vehicle for more extended periods.
In some instances, you may fail and be required to re-take the DOT physical. If you suffer from conditions such as stage one hypertension, you’ll have to renew your DOT certification every year.
If you suffer from stage two hypertension, you’re required to undergo regular checkups every three months. This ensures your condition is under control and well-managed.
If you take medical leave at any time in your career, you may be required to undergo a new DOT physical. This depends on the reason for your medical leave, especially if it impairs your ability to work safely.
6 Tips to Help Prepare You For a DOT Physical
For the entire physical to run smoothly, it’s crucial that you arrive prepared.
Remember to bring all necessary medical paperwork, a list of current medications, your driver’s license, and your doctor’s names and addresses. These tips should also help you prepare:
1. Lower Your Caffeine Intake 24-Hours Beforehand
If you suffer from hypertension, it’s a good idea to lower your caffeine intake. This includes coffee, energy drinks, and soda. Caffeine increases blood pressure levels, which could affect the outcome of your physical.
2. Lower Your Salt Intake a Week Beforehand
Salt also plays a significant role in affecting your blood pressure levels. It can also have a negative effect on your cholesterol. Make an effort to lower your salt consumption for a week leading up to your DOT exam.
3. Arrive Extra Prepared for the Exam
Aside from your list of medications, paperwork, and eyeglasses, arrive at your exam with a full bladder. This will help with a strong and clear urine sample. Allow yourself time to fill out paperwork clearly, don’t rush. Make sure you take all your necessary medications before the DOT physical.
4. Don’t Eat a Huge Meal Beforehand
Like salt and caffeine, a large greasy meal will not look good in your urine, either. It will spike your sugar levels and raise alarm bells concerning diabetes. Try to eat a smaller, lighter meal before the physical exam.
5. Stay Calm
Some people tend to suffer from “white coat syndrome” when they enter a doctor’s office. This is characterized by anxiety and a raised heart rate. Try to remain calm and breathe deeply. This will keep your heart rate steady.
6. Get a Second Opinion if Necessary
If you feel like your results were not an accurate representation of your health, there’s no harm in getting a second opinion. The same goes for the competency of the doctor running the examination. A second opinion could make all the difference!
What Happens If You Fail the DOT Exam?
It’s not the end of the world if you fail. It also doesn’t prohibit you from becoming a commercial driver, either. You can discuss your options with your doctor and ask them about disqualifying a certain condition if it can be improved with treatment.
Remember that driver exemption programs are with the FMCSA for those with disabilities, diabetes, and vision and hearing impairment.
Where Can You Get a DOT Physical?
If you’re looking for a convenient place near you to have your DOT physical, Nicola Chiropractic is your local go-to based in Las Vegas.
Along with DOT and CDL examinations, we also offer many chiropractic treatments for personal injury, workplace injury, impairment physicals, and more.
Get in touch with our team to schedule your next DOT physical.