Gearing Up for Your DOT Physical

February 17, 2016 2:33 pm Published by Comment

If you’re keen to earn a good living on the road, one of the first steps is to get your paperwork in order. That means you can plan on undergoing the DOT physical exam. As we discussed on last week’s Smith Transport blog, this medical check-up is absolutely key to your career in trucking. Without it – you’re without a driving job. So how can you make sure you’re ready to go when it’s time for your next exam? Let’s craft a wellness plan that fits the test itself, which largely focuses on health factors such as vision, heart rate, blood pressure, and other existing medical conditions.


It’s not just enough to keep your eyes on the road; a safe driver must know that his eyes are performing the best they can. Before you head to your DOT physical, be sure that your eyes are in the best shape to pass the DOT vision exam. Do you wear glasses or contacts? That’s just fine, but when is the last time you had your prescription checked out? Vision changes generally take place over substantial amounts of time, so if you’re used to wearing the same old prescription, you likely won’t have noticed any reduction in your eyesight over time. Relying on an old prescription may mean falling short on DOT physical vision requirements. If you wear contacts, pop in a fresh pair before your exam. Also, take a look at the side effects of any regular medications you may be taking. Antihistamines, for example, have been linked to blurred vision.

Pulse and Blood Pressure
One of the most important factors tested by DOT physical examiners are a driver’s heart health indicators. A high pulse and high or low blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and other very serious conditions that could cause major problems for you and other motorists. Even a short spell of dizziness is dangerous behind the wheel of a multi-ton rig. To fall within DOT physical requirements here, you may have to start early if you are playing catch-up. Start walking or jogging to exercise your heart and cardiovascular system. Lay off the cheeseburgers and fries and turn up your veggie intake. If you are having trouble in this area, your DOT physical may not go so well. Heart health is something to take care of ahead of time, and important enough to maintain even after your exam. P.S. Plan plenty of time to make it to your physical – stress and anxiety can have a substantial effect on your readings.

Pre-Existing Conditions
We all know that conditions such as diabetes can run in the family, and we also know that these can manifest themselves in serious, and life threatening ways. These sorts of conditions will have to be disclosed to your examiner, but there’s plenty you can do to mitigate these issues ahead of time. Healthy diet, exercise, and cutting back on alcohol and tobacco use will go a long way. Consider visiting your family doctor to see what other suggestions they may have.

General Fitness
A substantial portion of the DOT physical exam is not based on what we laymen may consider to be “scientific.” Can the examiner feel irregularities or other signs of medical problems when feeling your backbone? What about that flashlight they love to put in your ear and the ubiquitous “say ah” test? Well, all of these are age-old – and proven – methods for identifying problematic health issues. So what can you do? Incorporate a physical routine into your day. Even just a few minutes spent stretching tight muscles at each pit stop can help. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and maintaining good posture while driving and relaxing. These little steps will help to ward off serious back problems, tight nerves, and muscle problems that can keep a driver off the road.

Make a Good First Impression
Finally, present yourself well. That wonderfully comfortable t-shirt you’ve had since high school can take a day off. Have a quick shave and shower before your exam and make sure you look and feel the part of a healthy driver. As with all facets of life, walking into your exam feeling great and confident you will pass may go a long way towards making sure you do!

If you follow these tips, you should feel self-assured that you’ll pass your DOT physical with flying colors and be one step closer to earning a solid living on the road.

Want to learn more about the trucking life and prepare to put your skills to drive for one of the best carriers on the road? Get in touch with a Smith Transport recruiter at (866) 265-3718 or visit smithdrivers.com. You can even apply online. Just give us a shout. We look forward to hearing from you!

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