Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals are unlike any other routine physical examination. A Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) certified medical examiner must conduct the exam. The entire exam and documentation must follow strict procedures. To learn more about who sets the guidelines and what they are, see what our readers have to say about it.
Dana Gallik CRNP FNP-C CFMP NRCME
FMCSA Guidelines For Medical History, Physical, and Blood Pressure
In addition to meeting the qualification for a routine physical, those seeking their medical card for CDL driving must pass some additional testing that must be administered by a healthcare provider who is registered with FMCSA and has passed the test to do the examinations.
Some of those additional tests are hearing tests; a forced whisper must be able to be heard at a distance of five feet or greater. If there is any concern with this, audiometry should be used, in which an average hearing loss may not exceed 40 decibels. Those with hearing aids unable to pass with a forced whisper should be referred to audiology for clearance.
Vision- Corrective lenses should be worn for examination if they are needed, and this must be indicated on the certificate. Distance visual acuity must be at least 20/40 Snellen. Drivers must be able to distinguish the colors red, amber, and green. A peripheral vision field of at least 70 degrees is necessary.
Blood pressure must be below 139/89 for a two-year medical card; if the driver takes medication to control blood pressure, they are only eligible for a one-year medical card, and their blood pressure must fall under the same 139/89.
Smokers over the age of 35 need to have spirometry testing, [and] FEV must be at least 65% of the predicted value.
A comprehensive history is key, as there are many mandatory waiting periods and monitoring necessary for conditions and medical events such as stroke, heart attack, aneurysm, and [recent] surgery.
A drug test is not often part of a DOT medical exam unless the practitioner is concerned about drug use. However, most employers require a drug test.
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