Photo by Lucas Vasques
All major industry requires its employees to be in the best possible health. This is especially important if heavy-duty equipment and machinery are involved.
This is a crucial part of hiring new employees. It ensures their physical and mental health is in top condition in order to avoid industrial accidents.
So, if you’re due for a DOT physical exam, here’s what you can expect and a few tips to help you prepare.
WHAT IS THE DOT PHYSICAL?
DOT refers to the Department of Transportation which requires the health and safety examination of all new and long-term drivers.
In order to qualify as an eligible driver with the DOT, you’ll have to pass a DOT physical.
If you pass the DOT physical, this means that you have no physical or mental impairments that may affect your driving ability. You are then eligible to drive commercial vehicles and industrial goods across the country.
The importance of a DOT physical is not only for the drivers themselves, but other drivers on the road, too. If you have to face a DOT physical here’s what you can expect…
A RUN DOWN OF THE DOT PHYSICAL EXAM
The DOT exam takes into account your current and past medical history. So it’s important to be as prepared as possible before you walk into a testing office. Here’s what the examination includes:
1. A VISION TEST
In order to pass the vision test, all drivers must have 70” peripheral vision, as well as 20/40 acuity in each eye. Although 20/20 vision is optimal. Vision can be improved by corrective lenses if needed.
2. A HEARING TEST
Along with your vision, your hearing is also very important in order to qualify as a commercial driver.
If your hearing is poor, it can be assisted with the help of a hearing aid. However, you must still be able to hear what’s known as a ”forced whisper” from a distance of 5-feet, whether you wear a hearing aid or not.
3. BLOOD PRESSURE AND HEART HEALTH
If you suffer from hypertension, it’s wise to let the doctor know, including the medication you are taking to manage the condition. The exam will test your blood pressure, regardless, as well as your heart rate for any irregularities.
4. URINE TESTING
The urine test does not look for traces of drugs in your system — contrary to what you might assume. It actually looks for sugar and protein abnormalities which point to diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions. It also shows if there are any issues with your kidneys.
5. A THOROUGH PHYSICAL EXAM
The exam also covers the basics of a full physical. The doctor will check your ears, eyes, mouth, heart, lungs, and spine for all basic functions. They will also look at your vascular function and neurological alertness.
No matter where you take your DOT physical, the requirements for eligibility are all the same. This is because long-haul drivers cross state lines on a daily basis.
DO YOU NEED TO RENEW A DOT PHYSICAL?
As a commercial driver, you must renew your DOT physical every two years. This is to ensure you are still in good health and can safely operate a commercial vehicle for long periods of time.
In some instances, you may be required to re-take the DOT physical in a shorter period of time. If you suffer from conditions such as stage one hypertension, you’ll have to renew your DOT certification every year.
If you suffer from stage two hypertension, you’re required to undergo regular checkups every three months. This ensures your condition is under control and well-managed.
If you take medical leave at any time in your career, you may be required to undergo a new DOT physical. This depends on the reason for your medical leave, especially if it impairs your ability to work safely.
6 TIPS TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR A DOT PHYSICAL
In order for the entire physical to run smoothly, it’s important that you arrive prepared.
Remember to bring all necessary medical paperwork, a list of current medications, your driver’s license, and doctor’s names and addresses. These tips should also help you prepare:
1. LOWER YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE 24-HOURS BEFOREHAND
If you suffer from hypertension, it’s a good idea to lower your caffeine intake. This includes coffee, energy drinks, and soda. Caffeine increases blood pressure levels, which could affect the outcome of your physical.
2. LOWER YOUR SALT INTAKE A WEEK BEFOREHAND
Salt also plays a major role in affecting your blood pressure levels. It can also have a negative effect on your cholesterol. Make an effort to lower your salt consumption for a week leading up to your DOT exam.
3. ARRIVE AT THE EXAM EXTRA PREPARED
Aside from your list of medications, paperwork, and eyeglasses, arrive at your exam with a full bladder. This will help with a strong and clear urine sample. Allow yourself time to fill out paperwork clearly, don’t rush. Make sure you take all your necessary medications before the DOT physical.
4. DON’T EAT A HUGE MEAL BEFOREHAND
Like salt and caffeine, a large greasy meal will not look good in your urine, either. It will spike your sugar levels and raise alarm bells with regard to diabetes. Try to eat a smaller, lighter meal before the physical.
5. STAY CALM
Some people tend to suffer from ”white coat syndrome” as soon as they enter a doctor’s office. This is characterized by anxiety and a raised heart rate. Try to remain calm and breathe deeply — this will keep your heart rate steady.
6. GET A SECOND OPINION IF NECESSARY
If you feel like your results were not an accurate representation of your health, there’s no harm in getting a second opinion. The same goes for the competency of the doctor running the examination. A second opinion could make all the difference!
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU FAIL THE DOT EXAM?
It’s not the end of the world if you fail. It also doesn’t prohibit you from becoming a commercial driver, either. You can discuss your options with your doctor and ask them about disqualifying a certain condition if it can be improved with treatment.
Remember that there are driver exemption programs with the FMCSA for those with disabilities, diabetes, and vision and hearing impairment.
WHERE CAN YOU GET A DOT PHYSICAL?
If you’re looking for a convenient place to have your DOT physical, Nicola Chiropractic, based in Las Vegas, is your local go-to.
Along with DOT and CDL examinations, we also offer a plethora of chiropractic treatments for personal injury, workplace injury, impairment physicals, and more.
Get in touch with our team to schedule your next DOT physical…