A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical is a federally mandated physical exam conducted by a certified health care provider, to verify that a driver of a commercial motor vehicle is healthy and physically qualified to perform his or her duties. It essentially verifies that, as an operator of a commercial vehicle, you are “fit for duty.” The physical must be performed by a medical examiner listed in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) National Registry, and you will be provided with a medical examiner’s certificate or DOT Medical Card after you have successfully passed the exam. This card is then typically valid for 24 months.
What Does a DOT Physical Include?
A DOT physical includes a comprehensive review of your medical history, as well as a thorough exam. You will be asked questions regarding your hearing and vision, as well as any physical limitations you may have. The examiner will ask if you have ever experienced dizziness or fainting spells, paralysis, a stroke, seizures, any brain or spinal cord injuries, or chronic pain. You will also be asked if you have a history of digestive problems, psychiatric disorders, kidney disease, heart disease or past heart attacks and respiratory (breathing) problems such as asthma or emphysema. You should also anticipate answering questions regarding drug or alcohol use.
Following the history, a thorough physical exam will be conducted. This will include a vision test, a hearing test, and a check of your vital signs, such as heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. Your urine will also be tested for blood, sugar and protein content. The general exam will then include inspection of your general appearance, your eyes, ears, nose and throat, your heart, lungs and chest, your abdomen, and your pulse. Your spine, skeletal strength, and neurological function will also be evaluated.
What are the Physical Requirements for Driving a Commercial Vehicle?
During the physical, the medical examiner will be evaluating for the following physical requirements necessary to drive a commercial motor vehicle:
· Visual test of at least 20/40 with or without corrective lenses, a field of vision of at least 70 degrees, and the ability to recognize colors
· The ability to hear a forced whisper in the best ear no less than 5 feet away, with or without a hearing aid. Specific hearing testing may be conducted with an audiogram.
· Blood pressure must be controlled to less than 160/100. Prescription medications to control blood pressure are acceptable.
· If diabetic, blood sugars must be under 200 and must be controlled without insulin.
· No mental or psychiatric disorder that may interfere with the operation of a motor vehicle
· No history of orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular or vascular disease that may interfere with the operation of a motor vehicle
· No loss of any limb unless a skill performance evaluation has been evaluated and certified.
· No loss of the use of a hand, arm, foot, or leg that would interfere with driving a motor vehicle.
· No current diagnosis of heart attack, angina (cardiac chest pain) or blood clots
· No diagnosis of shortness of breath, fainting, collapse or heart failure
· No diagnosis of epilepsy
· No use of schedule 1 amphetamines, narcotics, or any other habit-forming drugs
Why Do You Need a DOT Physical?
The purpose behind requiring DOT physicals is to make sure that all commercial drivers are healthy enough to drive their vehicles. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, epilepsy, or sleep apnea could make driving a hazardous activity. Once you have been certified as “fit” you should not require another physical for 24 months, unless you experience a serious illness. At this point, you may be required to undergo an additional exam to make sure that this recent illness has not created new risks for driving safely. There are national guidelines as to which drivers are required to maintain a medical examiner’s certificate, and individual states may have additional regulations. However, vehicles involved in interstate commerce, that meet specific weight requirements, that carry hazardous materials, or that transport groups of individuals must generally be driven by a commercial driver in possession of a medical certificate.
Before getting behind the wheel, it is important to make sure that you are healthy and physically capable of the demands of driving a commercial motor vehicle. While the government mandates DOT physicals, individual drivers can view them as an opportunity to protect themselves and the public. If you have any further questions about DOT physicals or would like to schedule an appointment for your DOT physical with one of our highly trained, board certified medical staff, please contact us at Patient Care Now Urgent Care at (267) 202-6433. We’re open from 8 am – 8 pm during the week, and 8 am – 6 pm on weekends. We look forward to hearing from you.