Congrats! You have joined drivers across the country who have found their calling in the trucking industry. You passed your training and the driving test, so you’re all set, right? Not exactly. There are still a few things you need to see to before you get in the driver’s seat of a commercial vehicle. One of those things is a DOT physical to guarantee that your health is good and you’re safe to be on the road.
What is a DOT physical?
A DOT physical is a test required by the Department of Transportation. It’s not quite the same as a DOT alcohol or drug test since it takes a look at your health as a whole. CDL drivers are required to pass a separate alcohol and drug screen before they drive in addition to the Medical Examiner’s Certificate that is required and renewed at every two years.
What is the examiner looking for?
When you a get a DOT physical, the inspector will test that you have:
- All your limbs, or a certification attesting to your physical capabilities
- No epilepsy
- No history of diabetes mellitus that requires insulin, or a diabetic/vision exception
- 20/40 vision or better, with or without glasses or contacts
- No history of alcoholism or drug abuse
- Can tell between the standard shades of traffic signals i.e. green, golden, and red
- No arthritis
Do I really need a DOT physical?
At your physical, the examiner takes a broad look at all of these factors, including others, since they need to ensure you’re well enough to drive a CMV. While you may be qualified to operate a tractor-trailer because of your CDL training, knowledge and ability are sometimes different. It’s critical for you to be protected while you’re driving and it’s also essential that other drivers feel equally protected. As a commercial driver, you are required to carry your physical results with you in case you are asked for proof if something happens.
This physical must be performed by an FMCSA-approved inspector. Double check that you’re picking a qualifying office before you go in for your physical.