If you’re a professional bus or truck driver, you know how rigorous your job demands can be. To ensure your and the public’s safety, you’ll most likely need to take a DOT (Department of Transportation) physical.
WHAT IS A DOT PHYSICAL?
A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical refers to a mandatory health examination requested by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. This health examination assesses an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional suitability to become a CMV.
Once you become a commercial vehicle driver, you automatically become a ‘safety-sensitive- employee. As mandated by the FMCSA, for the safety of you and others, you are required to complete a DOT physical and pass it to procure an authorized commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Should I Get a DOT Physical?
You will require a DOT physical certification if you are operating any of the following:
- Handling motor vehicles in-between states for commercial purposes with a gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight rating, or gross combination weight exceeding 10,000 pounds
Handling motor vehicles capable of transporting 15 or more number of people
- Is a paid employee handling motor vehicles carrying more than 8 people
Involved in the transportation of hazardous substances, which demands the placarding of the vehicle.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING A DOT PHYSICAL
When the physical is being done, you would be examined by a certified medical examiner (CME) who will assess your vital parameters, conduct an evaluation of your past medical history and lastly, conduct a physical examination on you. This will generally include the below mentioned but may include additional aspects depending on your physical status.
- General appearance
- Mouth and throat
- Respiratory system
- Nervous system
- Back and spine
Once the assessment is completed, the CME would provide you with a medical examiner’s certificate (MEC), which is also referred to as a DOT medical card. In the absence of a DOT medical card, your CDL is invalid.
What Do You Need When You Arrive at a DOT Physical Examination?
- Ensure you have complete details of all the medications you are using with the prescriptions and the names of the doctors who prescribed them along with their addresses.
- You have the option of minimizing time at the center by filling out the first page details before your arrival. This includes information related to eyewear, contact lenses, or hearing aids.
- If you wear glasses or use hearing aids, remember to bring them with you. You will be subjected to a vision and hearing test, which you would have to pass.
Drivers with high blood pressure:
On the day of the examination, your blood pressure should be lesser than 140/90 mmHg.
Drivers with diabetes
- Your diabetes should be under control
- You are requested to present the recent most Hemoglobin A1C (HgAIC) levels and your blood sugar records.
- Any other documentation related to your Diabetes condition should also be presented.
Drivers have disturbances of sleep at night (sleep apnea) and need a CPAP machine’s assistance.
- Ensure you have documentation of the records from your CPAP machine.
- A letter by your treating sleep specialist will also be required.
- Ensure provision of information for the past 90 days, but preferably information from the last year is advised.
Drivers suffering from heart issues (inclusive of pacemakers, bypass surgery, heart attacks, stents, open-heart surgery, and valve replacements)
- The minimum is a letter from your treating cardiologist, providing a brief description of your cardiac history, present medication, and your suitability to drive a DOT vehicle.
- You are also required to provide a recent stress test, an ECHO cardiogram, and any other relevant tests that were done within the last 1-2-year period.
Drivers with a history of stroke, brain malignancy, seizure history, and bleeding into the brain.
- You are required to provide a letter from your treating neurologist, providing a brief overview of your condition, medication, and current neurological and psychiatric status.
Drivers with loss of limbs
- You are required to provide a letter from your treating physician describing the nature of the injury and if said injury brings about any physical limitations.
Any driver who is prescribed with medication causing sedation or using controlled substances in the form of narcotics, sleeping pills, anxiety medication, ADHD medication.
- You are requested to provide a note from your treating physician who would consist of information pertinent to your relevant medical history, assuring your well-being to operate a DOT vehicle.
- Drivers who are currently on blood-thinning agents such as Coumadin (warfarin).
- You are requested to provide an INR report done recently.
- You can provide a letter from your treating physician if you are unsure of your eligibility for a DOT card.
- It is advised to visit your primary care doctor or your specialist doctor before your recertification appointment.
- Each physical examination done is a unique examination which is similar to your DOT application.
The above information merely serves as a guideline and is not a definitive indication of you passing or failing the test. The examiner may warrant further testing upon his/her discretion.