All Department of Transportation (DOT) employees that have “safe-sensitive work” (i.e. have work that could potentially endanger the public) are required to undergo a physical exam to ensure that they are able to carry out their duties safely. Drivers may panic when they realize what all will be tested at the medical clinic, but the process is fairly straightforward. As you prepare for your own DOT physical, here are a few ways that you can start to prepare.
Plan to Bring any Aids and Medications
These include glasses or contact lenses, hearing aids, or any medications that you may be taking. Your DOT physical will include a hearing and vision test, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right supplies.
Bring Lab Results if you have Diabetes
It’s a common misconception that individuals can fail their DOT physical if they are overweight. However, doctors will be monitoring blood pressure, so it’s important to remain stress-free, to get in some exercise, and to eat healthy meals prior to the exam. It is also a myth that individuals with diabetes cannot pass a DOT physical, but individuals with diabetes will need to apply for a federal exemption. In order to qualify, you’ll need to have documentation from local doctors showing that you have not required urgent medical care as a result of your diabetes in the last five years. DOT employees who pass their exam will need to be reevaluated every year.
Make Sure you Catch Up on Sleep
Your DOT physical will ask questions about your general sleep habits. This isn’t surprising, as drivers should be alert and focused on the job. With that said, sleep is also linked to general health, and not getting a good night’s rest can lead to health issues that require urgent medical care. One of the best ways to ensure you pass your exam is by getting plenty of rest beforehand. If you have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, excessive daytime somnolence, or narcolepsy, you’ll often have to prove the condition is being successfully treated before you can start or return to work.
While the DOT guidelines are strict, they also make sense. Ensuring that commercial drivers are physically able to be on the road is a simple and effective way to protect the driver, passengers, and other motorists. If you have no ailments that impact your ability to drive, there is usually nothing to worry about.