What is a DOT physical?
A DOT (Department of Transportation) physical is a complete medical examination that has to be taken in order to be allowed to drive a commercial vehicle. It makes sure you fully meet the requirements for the job and are allowed to drive passenger vehicles and large vehicles.
You can learn more about the DOT physical here: https://www.hmdtrucking.com/blog/what-is-a-dot-physical/. And in this article we’ll take a closer look at its requirements.
What does the physical include?
The DOT physical will check:
- Medical history
- Blood pressure
As well as a number of other health indicators that may indicate problems that could put you at risk when driving a commercial vehicle.
Do I have to prepare for a DOT physical?
If you’re fit and in good health, there’s almost nothing you need to do to prepare. The DOT physical is simply an examination by a doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to drive such a large vehicle.
If you have health concerns, check that your prescriptions and medications are up to date, that you’ve recently had a vision test and have the proper corrective glasses, and the same goes for hearing if you suffer from hearing loss.
What are DOT’s physical requirements?
Blood Pressure Requirements
High blood pressure is a highly common health condition, and the DOT physical uses it as the main indicator of health. If your blood pressure is 140/90 or lower, you will pass the DOT blood pressure test. For readings between 140/90 and 179/109, you may have to have more frequent physical exams or be given a temporary medical card and asked to lower your blood pressure for a 3-month period.
To pass the hearing test, you should be able to hear a loud whisper in your best ear at least 5 feet away, with or without a hearing aid. If you do not pass a basic hearing test, you will be referred for audiometry, which will decide if you are safe enough to drive. Most of the time, you will be able to purchase a hearing aid and then get a DOT physical. If you require a hearing aid, you should wear it throughout the driving process. You will not be successful in a hearing test unless you are totally deaf and cannot hear a whisper even with a hearing aid.
To go through a vision test, you must have a field of vision of 70 degrees or more in each eye, 20/40 vision in each eye with or without glasses and be able to distinguish green, red, and amber colors. If you do not meet these standards, but meet all other DOT physical standards, you can apply for an exception.
What medical conditions affect your ability to pass your DOT physical?
There are several medical conditions that are disqualifying conditions for a DOT physical, meaning if they are uncontrollable or too serious to safely operate a large commercial vehicle, you will not be able to pass a DOT physical.
Such conditions include:
- High body mass index (obesity)
- Sleep apnea
How does the DOT physical go?
First, the medical examiner will discuss your medical history and any current treatments. He or she will then measure your height and weight to calculate your BMI, check your blood pressure, vision and hearing.
They will do a general assessment of your physical health, examine your skin, reflexes, and check for hernias.
You will also give a urine sample, which will be analyzed to determine your blood sugar levels and some other health indicators.
In most cases, the DOT physical ends there and you receive your medical certificate. However, if your medical examiner finds something they think requires additional testing, or if the physical exam requires it, you may be referred for another test before you receive your certificate.
In general, the DOT physical is nothing complicated, and there is no need to worry about it. The medical examiner just has to make sure that you are healthy enough to drive a large commercial vehicle.