How to Pass DOT Physical for Truck Drivers
Passing the DOT Physical
Truck driving is a career path that requires excellent health. Spending a lot of time seated, a condition that includes driving time, is a significant health risk. Your employer must ensure that you are healthy enough to take that health risk before they put you on the road.
In order to keep the roads safe and minimize health problems for drivers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires all drivers to pass a DOT medical exam before earning a commercial driver’s license.
If you are getting ready to earn your commercial driver’s license, learn more about the DOT physical exam and how you can pass it.
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What is Tested During a DOT Physical
The FMCSA requires medical examiners to follow a very specific protocol and fill out a federal form for all trucking physicals. Getting familiar with this form can help you figure out where you need to make improvements prior to your physical exams.
To start, you must fill out your health history. This includes information on any surgeries you've had, medications you are currently using, specific diagnoses, substance issues, and symptoms.
From there, the medical examiner tests various parts of your health. They test your pulse, blood pressure, vision in both eyes, and hearing. You must also pass a urinalysis test. This is used for drug testing and detection of blood, sugar, or protein in the urine.
During the physical examination, your doctor checks your overall health and each body system, marking it as normal or abnormal. The doctor then sends the DOT physical form directly to the licensing agency in your state.
At the conclusion of your physical, three things can happen:
• You may be cleared to drive for two years, which means you do not have any health conditions that the examiner feels will impact your driving.
• You may be approved to drive but required to follow up with periodic monitoring.
• The doctor may indicate that you do not meet standards, in which case you can seek a second opinion by following FMCSA protocol.
Improving Your Health for the Physical
It is important to be as healthy as possible when you walk into your physical appointment. This appointment plays a big role in your trucking career, and not passing this test may cause a delay in your career. Blood pressure, poor vision, uncontrolled diabetes, and epilepsy may all cause disqualification.
In addition to looking over the DOT physical form, DOT medical examiners recommend following these tips to pass your physical:
• In the week before your physical, eat and drink as healthfully as possible. This means cutting back or cutting out caffeine, salt, sugar, and junk food. This can help your blood pressure.
• Take all medications as scheduled at all times, since taking your medication irregularly may cause inaccurate readings during the physical exam.
• Do not run out of your prescribed medications as you lead up to your physical exam. Suddenly withdrawing from a medication can significantly impact your test.
• If you use contact lenses or glasses to see, make sure your prescription is up to date and bring your corrective lenses with you to the physical.
What You Need for the DOT Physical
Bringing specific paperwork to your exam can help your doctor more quickly assess whether or not you meet DOT physical requirements. Follow these guidelines:
• Bring comprehensive medical records from your primary care doctor if your primary care doctor is not the one performing your exam.
• If you have any health conditions, bring the name and contact information for the doctor who treats you for each condition. Conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea typically require additional paperwork, such as sleep test results or stress test results.
• Bring a complete medication list. The list should include every medication you take, its strength, its dosage, and the prescribing doctor.
The DOT physical ensures that you are healthy enough to drive, which protects your health and the safety of others on the road. Stay active, eat well, take all your medications, and you should be well on your way to passing a physical.