In the United States and many other parts of the world, vehicular crashes are a public health concern. Injuries and deaths from crashes are preventable if we all take the necessary steps to ensure road safety for everyone. One crucial part of this is undergoing a DOT physical if you drive a commercial vehicle.
If you drive interstate for a living, getting from point A to point B requires you to meet health standards. Out on the highway, you’re responsible not just for your own safety but also for everyone else you share the road with.
Do I Need a DOT Physical?
In an effort to reduce crashes and the resulting injuries or deaths that involve buses and large trucks, drivers of commercial motor vehicles are required to go through a medical exam called a DOT physical every 2 years.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations defines a commercial motor vehicle as any self-propelled or a towed vehicle is driven on the highways and involved in interstate commerce, transporting passengers or property. It also applies to vehicles that meet any of the following requirements:
- A gross vehicle weight or gross vehicle weight rating of at least 10,001 pounds
- Used to transport over 8 passengers, counting the driver, for a fee
- Used to transport over 15 passengers including the driver
- Used to haul hazardous materials in amounts that require placarding
Only medical examiners certified by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and listed in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners can conduct a DOT physical and issue a certificate. If you have a condition that requires closer monitoring, the certificate may be valid for less than 24 months.
What Should I Expect From a DOT Physical?
After reviewing your medical history, you can expect to go through a standard physical exam covering your eyes, ears, mouth, throat, skin, heart, lungs/chest, abdomen, back/spine, extremities and joints, genitourinary system, neurological system, gait, and vascular system.
The FMCSA qualification standards span 13 areas assessing a host of factors that may directly affect your driving. Your medical examiner will confirm that you have no limb loss and impairment. They will also check for any current clinical diagnoses or an established medical history of the following:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Respiratory dysfunction
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular, or vascular diseases
- Mental or psychiatric disorder
- Past surgeries and hospital stays
- Drug or substance use and alcoholism problems
- Sleep disorders
Can I Be Exempted From DOT Physicals?
The standards for vision, hearing, and epilepsy are absolute. You should have at least 20/40 vision in each eye with or without the need for corrective lenses, at least 70-degree horizontal peripheral vision in each eye, and recognize colors of different traffic signals. Your medical examiner will note if you need the use of corrective lenses.
Your medical examiner will check your hearing through a whisper test. You should be able to hear their whispered voice at a distance of not less than 5 feet. Hearing aids are allowed. If your examiner is using an audiometric device, your average hearing loss in your better ear must not be greater than 40 decibels at 500, 1000, and 2000 Hertz.
You should also have no established medical history or current clinical diagnosis of epilepsy or any condition which can cause you to lose consciousness or control over the vehicle.
If you have an underlying medical condition that causes you to fall short of minimum health standards, you may apply for an exemption. This is for individuals seeking exemption from the hearing, vision, and seizure requirements.
When you apply for exemption, you submit and allow the FMCSA to access your medical records, employment history, driving history, motor vehicle records, and other relevant information to evaluate your case. The agency has 180 days to decide on your application.
Note that driver exemption programs are granted only to drivers on interstate routes. The FMCSA does not have authority over drivers with trips under intrastate commerce.
Occupational Health Providers In Grand Junction, CO
Here at WorkPartners Occupational Health, we work with both employers and employees to make sure you’re fit to report to work and can hit the road safely. Our office at Grand Junction, Colorado, offers a one-stop-shop for all your occupational health and workers’ compensation needs – from drug/alcohol screening and DOT physicals to injury care management and rehabilitation services.
Our healthcare professionals have specialized knowledge of occupational health concerns. To conduct your DOT physical, we have our physician assistant Erica Herrera, an FMCSA-certified examiner with over 12 years of occupational health experience.
To schedule an appointment, call us today at (970) 241-5585 or use our online request form. We look forward to being your go-to workplace health partner!