The US Department of Transportation (DOT) employs nearly 60,000 people across the nation. Are you one of them? If so, you may be wondering about your DOT physical.
The DOT physical exam is a requirement for some professionals who work for the US Department of Transportation. Only employees who drive commercial vehicles must get a physical exam.
What else do you need to know about physical examinations for DOT drivers? We are telling you everything you need to know in this guide, so keep reading to find out.
What Is a DOT Physical?
The US DOT requires a physical before prospective commercial vehicle drivers can obtain their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs).
But why do commercial drivers need physicals? A physical examination evaluates physical health indicators that impact one’s ability to drive a commercial vehicle.
Driving commercial vehicles requires long hours and exposure to all kinds of road conditions. As such, this job can be very taxing both physically and emotionally. The physical exam ensures you are prepared for these factors.
Prospective drivers can get their physicals from any qualifying provider. You can find a list of qualifying providers on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If you live in Las Vegas, head over to The Spine Center. We are FMCSA-approved to administer DOT physical exams, as well as drug testing for commercial vehicle drivers.
Who Needs a DOT Physical?
Commercial drivers need DOT physicals to earn their CDLs. That means you must get a physical if you are a driver who does any of the following:
- Transports hazardous materials
- Operate commercial vehicles with more than eight paid passengers or more than 15 unpaid passengers
- Operate commercial vehicles with gross weights of 10,000 pounds or more
You will only have to undergo one physical exam every two years. However, there are exceptions where some drivers need annual physicals to uphold their licenses. We will talk about these exceptions next.
Medical Conditions Requiring Annual DOT Physicals
You must get an annual physical exam done if you hold a CDL license and have any of the following conditions:
- Type I or Type II diabetes mellitus
- Cardiovascular disease
Are you unsure whether you have one of the above conditions? Your physical exam will also include a blood pressure test, pulse rate test, and a urinalysis. These tests can show whether you have any of the above conditions.
You may also have to undergo a sleep apnea exam if you have any symptoms. Sleep apnea’s hallmark symptom occurs when people stop breathing periodically throughout the night. Ask your doctor if you need annual physical exams for sleep apnea.
What Does a DOT Physical Entail?
There are three parts to the physical examination required to obtain a CDL license. These include a health history analysis, testing for pre-existing conditions, and the physical exam itself.
Here is what you need to know about each part of the exam.
The Health History Analysis
Good health is essential for safe driving, and safe driving is even more important for commercial vehicle operators.
Why? Because according to the latest data, big truck wrecks cause nearly 150,000 injuries per year. And sadly, nearly 5,000 people die annually after getting into an accident with a commercial vehicle.
Doctors ask for health history during a DOT physical to help prevent these wrecks from happening. You will need to report any previous surgeries, medications you may use, or pre-existing health conditions you may have.
You will also answer questions about your substance use. It is important to report your use of legal (e.g., alcohol or tobacco) and illegal substances. After all, substance use is among the leading causes of commercial truck accidents.
At The Spine Center in Las Vegas, we allow patients to fill out their health histories before the appointment. Access the DOT physical exam paperwork here and bring the filled-out form to your appointment.
Testing for Pre-Existing Conditions
As mentioned, CDL applicants must undergo testing for pre-existing conditions. Doctors are typically looking for the three we mentioned (heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes).
However, prospective commercial drivers must also undergo hearing and vision exams. Commercial drivers must meet certain hearing and vision standards to drive commercial vehicles.
Drivers’ vision must be 20/40 in each eye without the help of glasses or contacts. Drivers must also have a 70-inch peripheral field of vision in each eye to qualify for a CDL. Also, you must have full-color vision.
CDL holders must also pass a forced whisper test. This hearing test requires drivers to be able to hear a loud whisper from a distance of five feet. Learn more about the hearing portion of the DOT physical in this article.
The Physical Examination
Finally, a commercial vehicle driver has to pass a physical exam. This exam will cover a wide variety of tests, including but not limited to the following:
- Eye disease
- Ear injuries
- Mouth and throat obstruction
- Heart and/or vascular problems
- Breathing problems
- Abdominal check
- Hernia exam
- Spinal problems
- Neurological issues
Once you pass your exam, your DOT physical provider should supply you with a Medical Examiner’s Certificate. This certification proves that you passed your physical and are eligible for your CDL license.
Searching for “DOT Physical Providers Near Me”?
The DOT physical is a requirement for commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicants and holders. You must get a new physical bi-annually to uphold your license. And you must go to an FMCSA-approved provider to receive your exam.
Are you looking for approved DOT physical providers in Las Vegas? The Spine Center offers same-day appointments for CDL physicals and drug testing. Schedule your appointment online today!