7 Important Things to Know for Your DOT Physical

What You Need to Know for DOT Medical Exam

If you are a Wichita, KS commercial driver, then you know that you need to have a DOT physical every 3 months (rare) to two years depending on restrictions. Some medical conditions require frequent monitoring, thus requiring more frequent recertification. 

But what do you need to know about the DOT physical? In this blog post, we will discuss 7 things that you can expect when getting your DOT physical. We will also talk about the DOT drug screen, and what you need to know about it.

What is a DOT physical and why do you need one?

DOT physicals are an important part of maintaining a commercial driver’s license. The DOT (Department of Transportation) requires that all commercial drivers be physically and mentally fit to operate a vehicle.

The physical examination is conducted by a licensed medical examiner and includes a review of the driver’s medical history, a vision test, hearing assessment, urinalysis, and a physical examination.

The DOT physical is valid for 24 months if no significant chronic health conditions, after which the driver must undergo another examination. These requirements help to ensure that commercial drivers are healthy and able to safely operate their vehicles.

7 Things to Expect at a DOT Physical Examination for Certification

(1) Medical History for DOT Certification Exams

During a DOT physical exam, your medical history will be reviewed in order to ensure that you are healthy enough to operate a commercial vehicle.

The examiner will ask about your current and past health problems, as well as any medications you are taking. You will also be asked about your family medical history, as certain conditions may be hereditary.

Be sure to disclose any and all health concerns, as DOT physical exams are designed to ensure that commercial drivers are safe and fit to operate their vehicles.

Failing to disclose important information could result in an accident, injuries, or even death, as well as having your license revoked.

(2) Vision Test

The vision test required by the Department of Transportation is designed to ensure that drivers are able to see well enough to operate a vehicle safely. The test measures both acuity and peripheral vision, and applicants must meet a certain standard in both areas in order to be licensed.

Acuity is the ability to see clearly, and it is measured by the ability to read a line of text from a distance. Peripheral vision, on the other hand, is the ability to see objects at the edge of one’s field of vision.

In order to pass the DOT vision test, applicants must have 20/40 acuity in each eye and field of vision of at least 70 degrees in the horizontal meridian (peripheral vision). Those who do not meet these standards may be eligible for a restricted license that limits their driving after being evaluated by an optometrist and using corrective lenses.

(3) Hearing “whisper” Test

The DOT hearing whisper test is a test that is used to determine if a person has normal hearing or not. The test is conducted by whispered words and the person being tested has to identify the words correctly. The use of a hearing aid is allowed.

If the person being tested cannot hear the whispered words, then it indicates that they have a hearing problem.

In order to pass the hearing portion, you must be able to hear whispered words from a distance no less than 5 feet away or demonstrate hearing thresh-hold by audiometer less than 40dB in at least one ear.

(4) Urine Screen

During your DOT physical, you will be required to provide a urine sample for assessment of renal function which reflects degree of control in some chronic health conditions.  Your urine will not be used to test for drugs or alcohol unless your employer asks for it.

(5) Drug UA

If required by your company, a urine drug screen (UDS) will also be scheduled and administered. This urine test is checking for compliance with drug and alcohol regulations.

This is a federally regulated drug screen and will be sent off to a lab for analysis. Make sure you come to your appointment well hydrated and ready to give a urine sample!

(6) Hernia Test

Depending on your examiner, the process for checking for a hernia may be different. But here is what you can generally expect:

The examiner will likely have you take off your clothes and wear shorts or a hospital gown. They will then ask you to lie down on your back on the examination table. Some will perform this test with you standing up.

The examiner will look for any lumps, scar tissue, discoloration, abdominal distention, and you may be asked to cough as it can make a hernia more prominent.

(7) Blood Pressure Check

DOT physical blood pressure checks are an important part of keeping commercial drivers healthy and safe. High blood pressure is a leading cause of stroke, heart attack, and other health complications.

Screening is key to discovering hypertension, so it can be treated before it becomes a serious problem.

The blood pressure screening will be conducted using a standard sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure cuff. The examiner will inflate the cuff to a certain level and then release it. They will then record your blood pressure based on the reading on the gauge.

However, because DOT physicals are only done every two years for healthy people without chronic health concerns, it is important for drivers to monitor their own blood pressure on a regular basis.

What to Bring for the DOT Exam?

To be as prepared as possible and for the test to go smoothly there are some key items that you will need to bring and do. First, you will need your driver’s license and current certificate (if you are renewing).

You will also need to bring a list of your current medications and any releases or documentation from various providers. Including, but not limited to, a cardiology release if you have had surgery or a heart attack in the last year. There is additional necessary documentation if you have insulin dependent diabetes.

When it comes to medical releases and documentation the best thing to do is have it with you. If you aren’t sure if you need something or not then bring it just to be on the safe side!

Prior to your physical exam appointment you will need to continue taking all of your normal medications as prescribed and refrain from consuming any caffeine before you come to your appointment. Wear/bring any glasses or hearing aids you need as well, wear comfortable clothes including shorts and/or a sports bra.

Schedule your DOT Certification Physical at WorkSafe Physical Therapy

There’s no need to be anxious about a DOT physical. These exams are designed to ensure that commercial drivers are physically fit to operate a vehicle.

The process is fairly simple and straightforward: you’ll fill out some paperwork, have your vitals checked, and then undergo a basic physical examination. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment at WorkSafe Physical Therapy in Wichita, KS when it’s time for your next DOT physical.