Commercial drivers drive the American economy forward. More than two million Americans drive heavy trucks for work. That’s nearly one percent of the country.
To keep people safe, the Department of Transportation (DOT) asks commercial drivers to receive physicals. DOT physical requirements are extensive, and some drivers do not pass. This makes a lot of people anxious.
What does a DOT physical entail? What are the requirements and disqualifying medical conditions? What can you do to pass?
Answer these questions and you can get certification for years to come. Here is your quick guide.
What Is a DOT Physical?
A DOT physical is similar to an annual check-up. All commercial vehicle drivers must receive one at least once every two years.
Drivers who transport hazardous materials must also receive a physical. The same goes for anyone who operates a vehicle that can carry more than 15 people or weighs more than 10,000 pounds.
DOT physicals involve a few different things. A doctor will give you a health history form to fill out. You should provide details about your medical history, including your alcohol use and medications.
At the doctor’s office, you will receive tests for your hearing and vision. You will then have your cardiovascular health assessed. Doctors get very specific, examining your blood pressure and blood sugar.
You can expect to submit a urine sample. If you show signs of heart disease, your doctor may ask for a blood sample.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration prepares a list of medical examiners. You must go to one of them in order to receive approval. Your examiner can be a medical doctor or chiropractor.
DOT Physical Requirements
The DOT is very flexible when it comes to physical requirements. They will deny certification only to drivers with severe health problems. You should still try to meet the requirements whenever possible.
Blood pressure is extremely important to overall health. High blood pressure can lead to a heart attack, which can incapacitate drivers and cause accidents.
As such, the DOT has specific levels of certification for blood pressure. Any reading under 140/90 can lead to two years of certification. If a driver has a top number between 140 and 159 and a bottom number of 90-99, they must get another test in a year.
A top number of 160-179 and a bottom one of 100-109 leads to temporary certification. The driver must get another test in three months. Anything higher than 180/110 will result in denial of certification.
Drivers must have 20/40 vision in each eye. They must be able to hear a whisper from more than five feet away. You can wear vision or hearing corrective aids during these tests.
There are conditions that will disqualify you from receiving certification. Nearly all forms of heart disease can be disqualifying. This includes thrombosis.
You can be a diabetic and operate a motor vehicle. But you must show that you are taking steps to control your blood sugar. If you don’t have proof of managing your diabetes, the DOT will not certify you.
Any condition that induces unconsciousness will lead to denial. This includes epilepsy and seizure disorders. You must show proof that you are controlling your seizures.
Inner ear diseases like Meniere’s disease throw off balance. This makes it hard to turn and press down on petals. Most drivers with these diseases do not receive approval, even if they are receiving treatment.
Taking medications is not enough of a treatment plan. Some medications may cause sleepiness that can prove dangerous while driving. You must check to make sure the DOT approves of your pills.
Significant vision and/or hearing loss can be disqualifying. You can receive exemptions if you can recognize traffic signals and hear vehicles.
Drug use is almost always disqualifying, especially for marijuana. It does not matter if your doctor prescribes it to you. The ban on drugs applies to LSD, MDMA, and Quaaludes.
Passing a DOT Physical
The best way you can pass a DOT physical is to live as healthy a life as possible. When you’re driving for long hours, take a break every two hours or so. Get up, stretch, and drink plenty of water.
If you are overweight, lose weight through diet and exercise. Monitor your blood sugar and blood pressure. If you have problems with mobility, pursue exercise and rehabilitation programs.
The day before your exam, avoid drinking caffeinated beverages. Caffeine can elevate blood pressure. If you are on CBD or hemp, you should avoid taking them as well.
Bring in any medical documents you have on hand, including prescription labels. Provide honest and clear details to all questions.
Do not lie. You can cause an accident that can lead to substantial penalties.
Do not panic if you are asked to perform tests or provide samples. Many physicals involve blood, urine, or other specialized tests. Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay calm.
Even if you pass the physical, your doctor may give you some recommendations. Follow them. If you ever have troubling symptoms, get treatment right away.
Get Your Las Vegas DOT Physical
The DOT mandates physicals so drivers stay safe. A driver must provide their medical history in detail. They receive testing for their vision, hearing, and cardiovascular health.
DOT physical requirements include low blood pressure. Drivers must be able to see and hear properly. They cannot have a heart or seizure condition that can lead to unconsciousness.
Maintain your health through common-sense measures. Answer your doctor’s questions fully and agree to necessary testing.
You don’t have to travel far to get your physical. The Spine Center provides DOT exams for Las Vegas. Book an appointment today.