How to Prepare for Your DOT Physical
CDL drivers may feel stressed about the DOT medical exam, but there are some simple ways to make sure you're ready for it.
Even if you’ve been through a DOT physical a dozen times, or don’t have any immediate concerns, there’s something about this test, and the career impact if you fail, that may cause you to feel nervous about going through it.
And while we understand how stressful it can be, the number one piece of advice when getting ready for your exam is this: just try to relax. The physical effects of stress are real – and can impact the results of your DOT medical exam. If you already expect your blood pressure reading to be a bit high, for example, you don’t need your nerves to push it even higher.
If you feel anxious as your appointment gets closer, try some deep breathing exercises to calm your body. This can lower your heart rate in preparation for the exam.
Knowing you’re prepared for your appointment will also help keep your nerves in check. Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for your DOT physical exam.
Be Mindful of Your Blood Pressure
Stay away from coffee, tobacco, and energy drinks as much as you can in the 24 hours leading up to your exam. These products can raise your blood pressure by as much as 20 points. If your blood pressure is already high, this may be enough to disqualify you from renewing your medical card.
Prepare to Discuss Your Health Openly
Know your health history and be prepared to discuss recent diagnoses of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, or sleep apnea. You’ll want to bring any information you have available from your prescribing physician – including current medications and your CPAP machine.
Get plenty of sleep the night before your DOT physical exam and give yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment. Rushing to gather paperwork at the last minute – or dealing with traffic delays – can increase your stress levels prior to your test.
Remember Your Hearing & Vision Supports
Wear or bring prescription glasses, contacts, or hearing aids if you’re required to wear them for driving. There will be a vision and hearing test that you’ll need to pass during the exam.
Hydrate, Hydrate & Hydrate Some More
Drink plenty of water so that you can provide the required urine sample. This sample is not used for a dot drug test (hair or urine), but rather to check for the presence of sugars, protein, or blood – all of which can indicate certain health conditions.
Know Your Rights
Always remember you have the right to a second opinion if your DOT medical examiner won’t issue you a medical card.
Keep in mind, however, that even though the FMCSA does allow second opinions, you can’t “shop around” until you find someone who’s willing to pass you. This means that you must be clear with the new medical examiner that you are looking for a second opinion after being disqualified during your initial exam.
Don’t Try to Cheat Your DOT Medical Exam
No matter what myths you may have heard, like drinking an overabundance of water to lower the risk of detecting medical issues from your "clean" urine sample, there’s simply no way to fake passing a DOT physical.
You must be 100% truthful in your answers to the health history report as well. As a professional driver, it’s your duty to refrain from driving if you cannot safely do so. If you’re involved in an accident, your medical history will be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb, and you could face legal action if you’re caught being knowingly untruthful in your responses.
Get DOT Physical Exam Support from Foley
This related Foley article, Everything You Need to Know About the DOT Physical Exam, answers common questions, like what do you need to bring to a DOT physical? And, what happens if you fail a DOT physical exam?
If you still need help with anything related to DOT physicals, you can rely on Foley’s compliance experts.
Is it time to schedule a DOT physical for one of your drivers? We have you covered. Our DOT physical program includes an impressive nationwide network of FMCSA-certified medical examiners to see your employees when and where it’s convenient for them.
The Foley platform automatically sends alerts whenever your drivers are due for DOT physicals based on their medical certificate expiration dates. You’ll never have to scramble to schedule a DOT medical exam at the last minute or deal with the hassle of expired medical cards again.
Get your FREE demo of our DOT compliance software and experience how easy it is to manage your DOT physical exams with Foley. Fill out the brief form below!