Every truck driver on the road today is required to pass a series of DOT medical examinations. Not only must they pass this examination, they must have a copy of the Medical Examiner’s Certificate that verifies the successful assessment. In most cases, the certificate is valid for 24 months, so, in effect, a truck driver must undertake a DOT medical examination every two years. In some circumstances, a medical examiner can issue a DOT Medical Examiner’s Certificate for less than 24 months. This generally only occurs where a person has medical issues that require ongoing treatment; for example, high blood pressure.
So what’s involved with a DOT medical examination? It sounds quite complicated, however, they are generally fairly easy, and if your family doctor completes the examination, then most of the information will be on your health record. The assessment itself has four sections – your history, your vision and hearing, your blood pressure and a urinalysis, and finally a physical and neurological examination.
Your medical history goes back five years and includes any medical problems that you have encountered, the treatment, and whether or not the problems are ongoing. Particular attention is paid to any medical emergencies involving fainting, seizures, depression, suicide attempts and other psychiatric problems.
Vision and hearing are obvious areas that are important to all truck drivers. The assessment will check for any significant hearing loss, and that you have at least 20/40 vision and a field of vision for each eye of at least 70 degrees. You will also be tested to see if you can distinguish colors, particularly those used in traffic lights.
The blood pressure and a urinalysis, and standard tests. Your blood pressure needs to be below 140/90 to receive a 24 month certificate. If your blood pressure is between 140-149/90-99, then you will only qualify for a 12 month certificate. Any reading above 149/99 may result in either no medical certificate, or a certificate of only 3-6 months, depending on the actual blood pressure reading, and proposed treatment plans. The urinalysis tests for abnormalities in blood sugar, ketones, proteins, and white or red blood cells – it does not normally test for drugs or alcohol.
Finally, the physical and neurological examination includes a head to toe hands on examination, and should include imaging of every organ, muscle, and bone. This is to check there are no abnormalities that may disqualify you from driving a truck. A neurological test covers your reflexes, equilibrium and coordination.
A truck driver is not permitted to operate a commercial truck if they do not have a current medical examiner’s certificate. The medical examination is designed to ensure that truck drivers are medically fit enough to drive trucks.