What to expect when you're expecting... a DOT physical


At PDQ America, health and safety are our top priorities. If you want to become a professional truck driver, your health and ability to safely operate a commercial motor vehicle are of upmost importance. 

Federal law dictates that you must undergo a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical to be cleared to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). While this checkup could be intimidating if you don’t know what to expect, having an idea of what happens during the exam can help.

What is a DOT physical?

A DOT physical assesses your general, mental, and emotional health to ensure that your body is up to the job of driving long hours, as well as dealing with the exhaustion and stress that comes along with operating a CMV.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the safe operation of CMVs throughout the U.S., each state also carries its own regulations. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of your state’s health-related requirements, as well as federal regulations.

Will I need a DOT physical?

According to this article, you will require a DOT medical exam if you fall into one or more of the following categories:

·     If you operate a vehicle that carries upwards of 8 people

·     If you operate a vehicle “with a gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight, gross vehicle weight rating, or gross combination weight of over 10,000 pounds”

·     If you haul HAZMAT materials that require your vehicle to be placarded


How can I prepare for this medical exam?

When you are ready for your DOT medical examination, it is important to locate a medical professional who is listed on FMCSA’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. Only an approved doctor can issue your certificate of good health, as required by FMCSA. Doctors on this registry have been trained in FMCSA regulations to evaluate if you’re healthy enough to operate a CMV.

After finding an approved doctor, fill out this medical examination report prior to your appointment. On this form, it is important to be honest in your indication of any prior or current health issues, ranging from kidney disease, to epilepsy, to stroke, among others. Be aware that if you are dishonest in filling out this form, your certificate could be revoked.

Along with this report, be sure to bring your driver’s license and any previous certificates you may have. You can expect to pay $85 at your appointment. Although insurance typically doesn’t cover this cost, some companies do reimburse their employees.

What can I expect from the exam?

You can anticipate this office visit to last about 45 minutes. During this time, the doctor will review your form, asking any further questions. Besides answering a multitude of medical questions, according to this article, you can also expect the following 5 things during your DOT physical:

1. While you will probably be able to keep your clothes on during this exam, your general appearance will be assessed for any indicators of obesity, alcoholism, and other medical issues. 

2. You’ll have to provide a urine sample, but it isn’t necessarily meant to detect drug or alcohol use. Instead, this sample helps doctors detect issues like diabetes. However, you should be aware that your company could ask for this sample to be tested for drugs and alcohol.


3. Your hearing will also be assessed using the whisper test. If you happen to fail the whisper test, you will take an audiometric test. Find out more about the whisper test here.

4. Do you wear glasses or contacts? If so, this isn’t the day to leave them at home since they will also be testing your vision.

5. You will also undergo a hernia test, during which your doctor will place his or her hand on your pelvis as you rotate your head and cough.

Curious about exactly what your doctor will be assessing during your DOT physical? Check out the medical examination report.