DOT PHYSICAL EXAM: WHY TO GET ONE?
The Department of Transportation wants to ensure that those who drive commercial vehicles will safely operate their vehicles. The Federal government mandated that all drivers must successfully pass a medical examination performed by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) prior to operating a commercial motor vehicle. The test is designed to ensure an employee can meet the demands of the strenuous job.
WHAT IS A DOT PHYSICAL EXAM?
Before all truck drivers get behind the wheel of a big rig, they are required by law to pass a DOT physical exam. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set a variety of mental and physical health regulations that truckers must meet in order to fulfill the demands of a truck driving career. All professional truck drivers must hold an up-to-date DOT physical certification at all times. It is important to meet the standards of the DIT physical to ensure both the truck driver’s safety on the road as well as the safety of other motorists.
WHY DOT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION IS NEEDED?
If you are operating a vehicle in interstate commerce and they meet the following requirements, you are required to undergo a DOT physical examination and carry a DOT medical certificate:
- Vehicle has a gross weight or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), or gross combination weight (GCW) or gross combination weight rating (GCWR) that is 10,001 pounds or more.
- Operates a vehicle that is designed to transport more than 15 people, or more than 8 people when there is direct compensation involved.
- Vehicle will be transporting hazardous materials that require the vehicle to be placarded.
WHAT DOES THE PHYSICAL EXAM CONSIST OF?
To obtain a Medical Examiner’s Certificate, drivers and applicants must complete the first part of the Medical Examination Report Form (MCSA-5875). The rest of the form must be completed and signed by the licensed medical examiner. You should review this form and supply the required information on the first part before coming for your physical exam.
Your medical exam will include the following:
- Health history. You must report a variety of past medical conditions that apply to you including serious illnesses or injuries, a history of seizures, high blood pressure, lung disease, sleep disorders, alcohol/drug use, chronic low back pain or diabetes.
- General physical condition. This assessment includes eyes, ears, mouth and throat, heart, abdomen vascular system and other body systems for abnormalities. Things such as obesity, hernias, limb impairment or heart murmurs will be noted on the examiner’s report.
- Vision test.
- Hearing test.
- Urine test for proteins, blood, and sugar levels.
- 5-panel DOT controlled substance screen. Your company may require this test which is in compliance with DOT standards. This screen tests for marijuana (THC), cocaine (COR), phencyclidine (PCP), opiates (OPI), and amphetamines (AMP) and is not a part of the standard DOT physical.
If you have high blood pressure, breathing dysfunction, diabetes, vision impairment, epilepsy, or mental disorders, you might need to see a specialist for further evaluation and a possible waiver.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED DOT PHYSICAL EXAM?
Most medical certificates are good for two years. However, if you have low blood pressure or high blood pressure, or any other condition that may inhibit your ability to drive, you may receive a 1-year certificate. And if you have very high blood pressure or other treatable conditions, you may receive a 3-month certificate. After 3 months, if you show improvement in that condition, you’ll be eligible to get a 1 or 2-year certificate.
WHAT DO THEY DO ON A DOT PHYSICAL?
You will be asked a Ton of questions about your medical history. Most probably your recent history. The doctor will check your general appearance for signs of alcoholism, obesity, and other medical conditions. The doctor will also ask for a urine sample and will undergo a hearing test, vision test and a hernia test, a hernia usually involves the examiner placing their hand on your pelvis while you try turning your head.
DOT PHYSICAL HEARING REQUIREMENTS
The test requires the person to be physically qualified to drive a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle). The physical qualification is determined through a forced whisper test. The test involves a whisper done from at least 5 feet away from the sides, with or without a hearing aid. In case of failing the test, the person will have to pass an audiometer test. Drivers who are using hearing aids are required to wear their hearing aids during the tests and operations while driving. They are also required to bring batteries as a spare power source for their hearing aids.
WHAT TO BRING TO THE EXAM?
During your visit, the FMCSA certified medical provider will perform a complete evaluation of your current physical condition. During the exam, your examiner will ask many questions that may require further information and documentation. To speed up the process, you should bring the following if they apply:
- A list of medications, doses, and doctors who were seen.
- Your eyeglasses, contacts, or hearing aids if you use them.
- Results of your last diabetes lab test and a log of your blood sugar levels if you are diabetic.
- CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) readings if you have sleep apnea.
- Letters fro your heart specialist and result from your most recent stress test and echocardiogram if you have a heart condition.
- A letter of clearance from your doctor if you are taking any medications that cause drowsiness or a blood thinner such as Warfarin.
HOW MUCH DOES A DOT PHYSICAL COST?
The cost for a dot physical varies significantly per location. You may need to inquire about the price on a site and to confirm if they are certified to the Federal Standard. The costs may go high as $300 and to as low as $30. Lastly, you don’t need to have health insurance for a DOT physical.
When you are constantly traveling from place to place, for many hours, it is important to have the comfort of knowing that you are physically able to safely make these trips. It is important to understand what exactly a DOT physical entails.