What is a DOT Physical?

A DOT (Department of Transportation) physical confirms whether you are healthy enough to perform the demanding profession of a CMV (commercial motor vehicle) driver. It helps to keep the nation's roads safe and includes:

  • Blood pressure and pulse rate: Blood pressure and pulse measurements assess your systolic and diastolic pressure levels, as well as testing for irregular heart rate.
  • Hearing: Drivers must be able to hear a 'forced whisper' at a maximum distance of 5 ft. with or without a hearing aid. The standard equates to a hearing loss of less than 40 dB in the better ear.
  • Urinalysis: A urine test screens for underlying medical conditions such as diabetes
  • Vision: Drivers must have a minimum acuity of 20/40 in each eye, with or without corrective lenses. They must also have at least 70º of peripheral vision in each eye along the horizontal meridian.

What categories does the physical exam cover?

  • Abdomen and viscera (enlarged liver, muscle weakness, viscera)
  • Ears such as scarring or perforated eardrums
  • Eyes such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration
  • Extremities such as limb impairment
  • Heart such as irregular sounds, murmurs or pacemakerHerniaLungs and chest, not including breast examination (such as abnormal breathing, cyanosis or impaired respiratory functions)Mouth and throat, to check for breathing or swallowing difficulties
  • Neurological conditions including ataxia, asymmetrical deep tendon reflexes, coordination or impaired equilibrium or speech pattern
  • Vascular system (irregular pulse, carotid artery or varicose veins)
  • Spine and other musculoskeletal issues, including limited motion, previous surgery, tenderness and so on

Why do I need a DOT physical?

The Department of Transportation (DOT) requires commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators to have the DOT physical exam to maintain their driver certification. The DOT deems professional drivers who operate commercial vehicles of 5 tons or more as “safety-sensitive” because they can affect both their safety and the public's safety. Drivers must provide periodic physical exam reports to maintain compliance and continue working.

Certified Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) medical examiners can perform the DOT physical. A DOT physical examination is not intended to replace a comprehensive annual wellness exam.

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