In order to be a professional truck driver at a trucking company, you are required to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) Physical. A DOT Physical is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-mandated test that requires a medical examiner to assess various aspects of a truck driver’s health.
After completing a DOT Physical, you will either be given a medical card and cleared to drive for two years or told you did not meet the FMCSA standards.
If you want to give yourself the greatest opportunity to do well in the exam, check out these tips on how to pass a DOT Physical from Atlas physical therapist Darin Flannery, who works out of Schneider’s Indianapolis facility.
Tips to pass a DOT Physical
1. Bring all necessary documents and paperwork.
- Medical records, including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) compliance data if you have sleep apnea.
- A list of any health conditions you have and who treats you for them.
- A complete list of any medications you take and who prescribes them to you.
- If applicable, make sure you’ve completed any action items noted by the previous DOT medical examiner if you’ve had a DOT Physical in the past.
2. Be honest when answering questions about your health history.
You will be required to fill out forms and answer questions that cover things like:
- Surgeries you’ve had.
- Medications you take.
- Specific illnesses you’ve been diagnosed with.
- Substance abuse issues you have.
- Symptoms you’re experiencing.
Be consistent with the information in your medical history that you’ve shared in the past and include any updates that have occurred since your previous DOT exam.
It is vital you are honest when answering these questions to ensure your medical card does not get revoked.
3. Start making healthy choices now.
At least three weeks before your DOT Physical, get into a healthy routine. Do this by:
- Stocking your fridge with healthy foods and cutting back on eating things that are high in sodium, calories and sugar.
- Eating three to four smaller meals each day versus one or two larger ones.
- Being physically active by taking walks outside and stretching. The DOT examiner will likely notice if your mind/body are/aren’t active in the exam.
- Getting enough sleep every night.
- Monitoring your blood pressure (and blood sugar if applicable) on several occasions before the exam.
All these things can impact the results of the tests during the physical, which include:
- Getting your pulse taken.
- Having your blood pressure taken.
- Testing your vision and hearing.
- Receiving a physical examination.
- Taking a urine sample to check for glucose, protein, blood and illegal drugs.
4. Stay away from illegal substances.
You can expect to have a urinalysis done during your DOT Physical to check for illegal substances. If illegal drugs are detected, you will not pass the exam.
Consider reviewing this guide on if truck drivers can use marijuana prior to taking your DOT Physical.
5. Be diligent about taking your medications.
If you take medications, do your best to take them around the same time each day. Additionally, if you run out of your medications right before your physical, do your best to get them refilled as soon as possible.
Taking medication at varying times or stopping your medication altogether may impact your test results during the physical.
6. Avoid unhealthy habits the day of.
To give yourself the best shot at passing a DOT Physical, there are some things you want to avoid doing the morning of to prevent raising your blood pressure and blood sugar, including:
- Not getting enough sleep the night before.
- Consuming sugary foods and drinks.
- Drinking a large amount of caffeine.