What Are D.O.T. Trucker Physicals?
The Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2000. They are a separate managing organization within the United States Department of Transportation. The mission of the FMCSA is to reduce the incidence of traffic-related accidents, injuries and fatalities involving buses and large trucks.
To support their mission, the FMCSA requires drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) to undergo a physical examination by a qualified medical examiner to ensure they are medically qualified to safely operate these vehicles. With the interest of public safety in mind, CMV drivers are held to higher physical, emotional and mental standards than drivers of passenger cars. These exams are frequently referred to as D.O.T. physicals and recertification is necessary every 24 months, if not sooner for limited certifications.
New graduates have to meet this requirement as well, and typically complete employment drug testing D.O.T. physicals while in training. Drug screens are performed to detect the following substances:
- Phencyclidine (PCP)
In addition, the DOT requires all training centers and trucking companies to administer random alcohol and drug screenings for all CDL-permitted and CDL-licensed drivers throughout their employment.
Who Can Qualify as a Medical Examiner?
The FMCSA recognizes any person who is certified, licensed and/or registered in accordance with their state laws and regulations to perform physical exams as a qualified medical examiner. This may include:
- Doctors of Medicine
- Doctors of Osteopathy
- Doctors of Chiropractic
- Physician Assistants
- Advanced Practice Nurses
What Is Included in The Physical Exam?
CMV drivers are expected to provide up-to-date information regarding their past and current medical and surgical history and list of current medications. In addition, a driver may need to describe certain conditions in more detail.
Aspects of the physical exam may include height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate and a complete physical exam. Hearing and vision tests are performed and drivers are asked to provide a urine sample for urinalysis as well.
Drivers cannot receive certification if they have a disqualifying blood pressure, are prescribed injected insulin, have a diagnosis of cardiac insufficiency, congestive failure, or any other cardiac disease. If a driver has sleep apnea it must be demonstrated as under control. The vision requirements are 20/40 correctable in each eye and contacts or eyeglasses are permitted to correct vision. Drivers must also be able to hear a forced whisper from more than five feet away from them in at least one ear, and hearing aids are permitted to meet requirements.
As of last year, certified “non-exempted interstate” CMV drivers with a Class A, B, or C license are no longer required to carry their D.O.T. physical card with them. As earlier stated, these certifications are valid up to 24 months and qualify for any CMV driving opportunity. However, upon change of employment, drivers will be required to show proof and pass the employment drug testing D.O.T. physicals.