A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam is done by a licensed medical examiner. They must be listed on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration National Registry. Starting May 2014 the DOT and FMCSA require DOT exams be performed by certified medical examiners. They must be on the national registry. Not all physicians choose to take the necessary training and exams to be listed as eligible to perform these exams. In the past most medical health care professionals were able to perform these. This policy changed as of May 2014.
DOT physicals are performed every 24 months. Sometimes the certificate is issued for less time if there is a condition that needs to be monitored like high blood pressure. DOT physicals are designed to detect physical, mental, and emotional issues that may impact a drivers ability to safely spend long hours driving.
Federal law requires commercial drivers to receive regular physical exams.
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The DOT exam evaluates vision, hearing, blood pressure, and pulse rate. It also test for illegal drugs. Examinees must bring a list of their medications and their prescription glasses to the appointment. The distant vision needs to be at least 20/40, field of vision of 70 degrees or better and able to identify traffic signal colors. Drivers should bring hearing aids with them because a hearing/whisper test is administered. They must also be able to hear a whisper.
Some of the things that are evaluated at the health screening are as follows; Has not impairment of hand or fingers that prevent grasping, has no loss of foot, left hand or arm, has not limb defect with limitation that interferes with ability to operate vehicle, no current cardiovascular disease, no current diabetes requiring insulin, no current respiratory issues, no current high blood pressure, no current diagnosis of vascular disease, no current diagnosis of epilepsy or seizure disorder, no dizziness or fainting spells, and no psychiatric disorder.
Drivers must be free of illicit drugs and have no current diagnosis of alcoholism. A urine test is performed. A full list of medications should be brought with you to the appointment.
Prior to the exam drivers should not drink coffee or smoke cigarettes 30 minutes prior to the exam. This can affect your blood pressure. Arriving early to your exam may let you have a chance to relax so that your blood pressure will be better. You should complete the driver information form with health history sections filled out for the examiner.
During the exam your pulse and blood pressure will be checked, a vision test will be performed, your general appearance is observed, your eyes, throat, mouth and ears are examined. The examiner will listen to your heart and lungs, check for spine deformities, perform a neurological exam, press on your abdomen, and perform a hernia check.
Once the exam is complete the examiner will talk with you about any concerns from the exam. If no issues are found a 24 month certificate will be issued. Sometimes if there are any concerns a three month, six month, or one year certificate may be issued.