You may have heard about a DOT physical test while studying more about becoming a commercial truck driver and receiving your CDL license. What’s in a DOT physical, how much is a DOT physical, and How To Get DOT Certification?
A DOT or CDL physical exam is a health and safety examination needed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) before you can safely operate a commercial vehicle.
Anyone who passes the DOT physical requirements is in good physical condition, with no health conditions that could impair or affect their driving skills. It’s a means to ensure the driver’s safety as well as the safety of others on the road.
What’s In a DOT Physical?
Because your DOT exam evaluates your eligibility to drive a commercial vehicle based on your current and previous medical history, it’s critical to be prepared when you arrive for your appointment. Here’s what to expect during your DOT physical, so you can relax and enjoy the experience as much as possible.
1. Vision Test
To maintain driver safety on the road, all drivers must complete a vision test and have at least 70″ peripheral vision and 20/40 acuity in each eye. If necessary, corrective lenses can help with vision.
2. Hearing Test
To safely operate a commercial vehicle, not only must your vision be in good functioning order, but your hearing must also be in good operating order. If necessary, a hearing aid can be used to help with hearing, but whether you use one or not, you must be able to hear a “forced whisper” from a distance of 5 feet or less.
3. Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Your physician will check your blood pressure for signs of high blood pressure and other problems, as well as your heart rate for irregularities.
When you hear the term “urine testing,” you may immediately think of drug tests. The DOT physical test, on the other hand, is not like that. Your DOT exam’s urinalysis checks your sugar and protein levels to see whether you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, or if you have any kidney problems, such as an infection.
5. Physical Exam
Your doctor will examine your ears, eyes, mouth, heart, lungs, and chest, spine, vascular function, neurological abilities, and other fundamental assessment categories during your DOT physical exam. The DOT physical requirements are the same regardless of where you have your DOT physical exam. This is due to the fact that drivers frequently cross state lines while traveling, and the safety criteria for drivers are the same worldwide.
A new DOT physical may be required if you need to take medical leave at any point throughout your career, depending on whether the reason for your medical leave might have an impact on your ability to operate a commercial vehicle safely. The choice about whether a new physical is required, as well as whether or not to include your CDL physical form in your driver qualification or DQ file, is normally left to the motor carrier. Although your DOT physical is not necessary in your DQ file, if it is included, your employer must consider your DQ file as confidential information in order to comply with ADA guidelines.
How Much is a DOT Physical?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how much a DOT physical costs because prices vary and certain carriers will cover the expense of your CDL physical while others will not. The cost of a DOT physical with a physician ranges from $85 to $226 on average, with some sites charging as little as $50. CVS also performs DOT physicals and displays their charges upfront if you’re searching for convenience. A DOT physical costs $109 at CVS, and a follow-up DOT physical costs only $35.
When Should I Get a DOT Physical?
Every two years, commercial drivers are required to have a DOT physical exam to ensure that they are still in excellent health and can safely operate a commercial vehicle on the open road. However, there are several circumstances in which a DOT physical is required sooner than every two years. Individuals with certain conditions, such as Stage 1 hypertension, can obtain one-year DOT certification. More serious conditions, such as Stage 2 Hypertension, necessitate more frequent checks, such as every three months until the condition is under control.
Who Can Perform a DOT Physical?
You won’t have to seek far to find a doctor who can provide you with a DOT physical. However, you must ensure that anybody you choose to perform your CDL physical is licensed by the FMCSA and is recognized by the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Fortunately, there are a lot of doctors that are trained to give DOT physicals, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one in your area. It’s possible that your primary care physician is qualified, but you should always double-check.
Who Needs a DOT Physical?
For your CDL to be valid, you must obtain a DOT physical if you operate a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more, a vehicle that transports hazardous goods, or a vehicle that transports more than 15 people (such as buses). If you move jobs before your CDL physical expires, your new employer may require you to retake the physical. However, if your physician has not yet expired, most companies will cover the cost.
Under some circumstances, a driver may be able to get a waiver on some of the DOT physical requirements that they would otherwise fail. Exemptions for diabetes, vision, hearing, and physical disabilities are available (such as missing a finger or having a prosthesis). These waivers are provided on a case-by-case basis, with exemptions generally granted when it can be demonstrated that the possible issue is well-managed and that granting the request poses no risk.
Is a DOT Physical Covered by Insurance?
CDL physicals are rarely covered by insurance companies. This means you’ll almost certainly have to pay for your DOT physical yourself. Thankfully, DOT physicals aren’t expensive—despite the fact that they are required by law and that employers would refuse to hire you if you don’t have one. When it’s time to renew your CDL, make it a priority to put money away for your physical.
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