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What is the DOT Physical Exam?

The Importance of this Exam for Truck Drivers

The DOT Physical Exam is an examination that all truck drivers must take and pass to get their Commercial Driver’s License. The DOT Physical Exam determines if the driver is in satisfactory physical condition to drive without a risk. This exam is required as truck drivers are deemed “safety-sensitive” to other citizens out operating motor vehicles on the road each day.

What’s the Purpose of the DOT Physical Exam?

The DOT Physical Exam is used to determine if a driver is in appropriate physical condition to drive the vehicles that they will be operating once receiving their CDL. This exam is required and must be passed by every driver before they can earn their license. All candidates are asked to fill out all health questionnaires before they arrive at the office. If drivers have any of the following conditions they need to bring the following with them to the exam:

  • Drivers who have vision or hearing problems must bring either their glasses/contacts or hearing aids with them to the exam.
  • Potential drivers with diabetes must bring their most recent and comprehensive Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) results and blood sugar logs with them.
  • Drivers with heart-related issues must bring a letter from their cardiologist outlining the issues and limitations that the driver has as well as along with a note that they are safe to perform this kind of work.

If a driver comes without these specific papers, yet has one of these conditions, the exam will not be able to be passed until the appropriate items are brought in.

What Does the DOT Physical Exam Detect?

In addition to the necessary checks mentioned above, the DOT Physical Exam will also look for a variety of other conditions that a driving candidate may have. These will include the following:

  • General Appearance
  • Eyes (i.e., cataracts, glaucoma, muscular degeneration, etc.)
  • Ears (i.e., scarring of the tympanic membrane, perforated eardrums, etc.)
  • Mouth/Throat Exam (issues swallowing)
  • Heart (to detect problems)
  • Lungs & Chest
  • Abdominal Issues
  • Vascular Issues
  • Genito-Urinary Issues
  • Extremities
  • Possible Spinal Injuries
  • Neurological Issues

These are just some of the issues that get looked at within the exam. The idea behind the DOT Physical Exam is to give prospective drivers a comprehensive physical to ensure that the driver is fit and healthy before beginning their driving career.

What Happens If A Candidate Doesn’t Pass?

A candidate will fail the exam if they have the following:

  • Cardiovascular/Respiratory Disease
  • High Blood Pressure (without medication)
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • Nervous/Psychiatric Disorder
  • Poor Eyesight (without corrective lenses)
  • Loss of one/multiple limbs

Candidates will also fail if they do not pass the alcohol or drug test that accompanies the rest of their physical.

If a candidate does not pass the physical due to a medical condition, they can look into receiving a waiver. Otherwise, if the candidate fails due to alcohol abuse issues, they will not be allowed to return to work until they see a see an Alcohol Abuse Specialist and meet all job requirements.

Use of drugs such as amphetamines, narcotics, or other drug-forming habits can also be grounds for someone to fail the exam, even if they are using these substances under the guidance of a doctor.

For further information about passing the DOT Physical Exam, feel free to contact us at CDS Tractor Trailer Training for assistance. CDS provides Class A CDL training at four Virginia locations. Let’s get you on the road to a new career!