The Department of Transportation requires those who drive commercial vehicles to have a physical exam on a regular basis. Knowing what to expect from them can help you prepare for your appointment.
Importance of DOT Physicals
Having commercial drivers undergo these physicals helps ensure that they’re in good condition and can operate their vehicle safely. Driving commercial vehicles is physically demanding, especially for those who drive large tractor-trailers and those who put in a lot of hours on the road. Making sure that these drivers are physically healthy makes them less of a risk to themselves and other drivers on the road. These physical exams can help doctors detect any health issues that might cause difficulty driving or increase the risk of being in an accident.
What to Expect from DOT Physicals
When you go for your DOT physical, you’ll need to provide personal and medical information, such as your date of birth, contact information, and driver’s license number. You’ll also need to state if you have any medical conditions, such as neurological disorders, hearing loss, vision problems, heart disease, or diabetes, and provide a list of medications that you take.
When you go for your exam, keep in mind that only certified medical examiners are able to conduct it. Dr. MacEwen is a Nationally Certified medical examiner. During your exam, the doctor goes over your medical history and checks your vitals, such as your blood pressure and heart rate. You can also expect to have a vision test to determine whether or not you have impaired vision and need corrective lenses. The DOT requires commercial vehicle drivers to have a minimum of 20/40 vision in both eyes, which can include corrective eyewear, such as eyeglasses or contact lenses.
During your DOT exam, your examiner will also check your ears and hearing, along with your throat and mouth. Your examiner will also do an orthopedic and neurological exam, look over your skin and general appearance, and check your heart and lungs. You can also expect to have your spine checked for deformities or abnormalities that could make it difficult for you to sit comfortably in a vehicle for extended periods of time. Your examiner will also check your abdomen for abnormalities and do a hernia check. You will have your urine tested for sugar, blood, protein and specific gravity.
Bring your Health Records to your exam
If you bring your health records to your exam you will have a better chance of passing your exam and leaving with your medical card that day. If you are diabetic, you will need to bring your most recent office visit notes from the doctor that manages your condition AND you’re most recent blood work results showing your A1C level. If you have a history of cardiac conditions and or surgeries (including stents, angioplasty, bypass, stroke, etc.), you will need to bring your most recent office visits notes from your cardiologist AND the results of any recent tests such as an EKG. If you were diagnosed with sleep apnea and use a CPAP machine, you will need to bring the compliance report from your machine for the last three to six months. If you were diagnosed with seizures, epilepsy, or have suffered prolonged periods of loss of consciousness, you will need to bring a letter from your neurologist stating you are seizure-free, do not take anti-seizure medication and are safe to operate a vehicle. If you regularly take prescribed medications that are considered controlled substances such as Vicodin, Percocet, etc., you will need to bring a letter from your prescribing doctor stating why you need to take this medication and that you are safe to operate a vehicle. If you have an impairment or loss of an arm, leg, hand or foot, you will need to bring a letter from your managing doctor stating your condition is stable and you are safe to operate a vehicle. If you wear glasses/contacts to drive and/or wear hearing aids, please be sure to have them with you for your exam.
After Your DOT Physical
When your physical is done, the doctor lets you know if you meet the required standards for a medical certificate. If you have a condition that requires close monitoring, your certificate might only be valid for a few months or up to one year. Otherwise, your certificate will be valid for two years.