The Department of Transportation (DOT) creates regulations and policies to keep commercial drivers safe on the road. One of those regulations ensures that drivers are physically fit enough to operate large motor vehicles. The DOT requires physical examinations for several types of drivers and vehicle operators. Keep reading to learn more about who needs to get a DOT physical!
What is a DOT Exam?
A DOT physical is a medical examination you must undergo before driving commercial vehicles for a living. The exam ensures that drivers are physically fit enough to meet the demands of the job and can safely operate large vehicles or vehicles with passengers without putting themselves or anyone else at risk.
Who Needs a DOT Physical?
The DOT requires physicals for many types of drivers. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the following types of drivers are required to get physical examinations regularly:
- Drivers that operate a motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) or gross combination weight (GCW) of 4,536 kilograms (10,001 pounds) or more in interstate commerce.
- Drivers that operate a motor vehicle used to transport more than 15 passengers, including the driver, in interstate commerce.
- Drivers that operate a motor vehicle designed or used to transport between nine and 15 passengers, for direct compensation, beyond 75 air miles from your regular work-reporting location, in interstate commerce.
- Drivers that transport hazardous materials in quantities requiring placards, in interstate commerce.
Additionally, any drivers with the following licenses that do not fall into the above categories are also required to get regular physical examinations:
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Hoisting license
- Hydraulic license
- School and commercial bus drivers
- Limousine drivers
- Box truck drivers
- Tow truck drivers
- Landscapers license
What does a DOT Physical Involve?
A DOT physical examination must be conducted by a certified medical examiner, listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration registry. The examiner will perform a variety of medical examinations. The typical DOT physical includes a physical exam, blood pressure and pulse test, visual acuity test, hearing test, and urinalysis. The medical examiner may perform other tests due to any other health issues or concerns you have. The examiner will also need to review a list of past or recent illnesses along with recent and current medications.
There are several ways you can prepare for your DOT physical. Bring your completed DOT Medical Examination Form and your driver’s license and pocket certificate to your visit. Additionally, be sure to bring a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you take and a list of your regular doctors and their phone numbers. If you have diabetes, bring a list of medications and the name of your prescribing doctor. Additionally, have copies of your blood sugar results or hemoglobin A1C results from the past three months on hand. If you have a heart condition, like a recent heart attack or cardiovascular disease, bring a copy of your last stress test or release from your cardiologist.
Passing or Failing Your DOT Exams
The most common reasons for failing a DOT physical are high blood sugar and uncontrolled sugar in your urine. Luckily, both conditions can be controlled and managed. Another common reason for failing a DOT exam is having any condition that would cause a loss of ability to operate a commercial motor vehicle safely, such as loss or impairment of limbs, a poor vision that cannot be corrected, and epilepsy. If you fail your DOT physical exam, do not panic!
Your medical examiner will create a plan with you to manage and control the issue. Additionally, he or she may issue you a three-month medical certificate that allows you to continue working, but also requires you to return for a follow-up physical exam. If you pass the exam, the medical examiner issues a DOT medical certificate with a validity of two years. However, if you have a medical condition that needs to be monitored, like arthritis, the medical examiner may issue a certificate with a shorter validity period in order to monitor the condition.
Navigating the requirements for DOT physicals can be confusing and difficult. Luckily, Work Health Solutions is here to help you understand the DOT regulations and conduct DOT physicals!
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