Many people who are thinking of getting into the trucking sector these days may not know all that it takes to enter the industry, let alone succeed in it. While the idea of making a good living and getting plenty of adventure out on the open road is attractive for obvious reasons, some would-be truckers may not even realize they need to pass a medical exam before they can get behind the wheel.
With that in mind, you need to know what kind of exam - administered by the Department of Transportation - this will be, and everything it will likely entail:
Questions about your medical history
One of the biggest parts of a DOT medical exam is a series of questions you will be asked about nearly every aspect of your medical history, according to CDL Life. This will include asking for information about any surgeries or other procedures you've gone through, pre-existing conditions you deal with and so on.
In addition to asking questions about your past, these medical exams will also entail things you would expect in a standard physical exam, testing your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and so on, CDL Life added. Essentially, if you have ever had a physical administered by your personal general care doctor, you're likely to go through all the same stuff with a DOT exam.
You will also be asked to submit to a urinalysis test which will test for various things, including the presence of any drugs in your system, according to All Trucking. However, you likely won't be dinged for positive results on prescription medications, but there are exceptions.
Speaking of prescription drugs, while most medications won't disqualify you from being a trucker, there are certainly some that will, according to Trucking Truth. These include anti-seizure medication (as there cannot be the risk of a driver becoming incapacitated while behind the wheel of a big rig) and methadone, which is used treat people with opioid addictions.
Hearing and vision
It will come as no surprise to any aspiring pro hauler that their hearing and vision need to be in great shape to ensure they're safe and successful behind the wheel, so the DOT tests for that as well, Trucking Truth noted. Your vision won't need to be 20/20 - as long as you have corrective glasses or contacts - but your hearing in particular will need to be top-notch. To find out, you will often be asked to pass a "whisper test" in which the examiner whispers something five feet away from you; you will have to repeat what was said back to them.
In all cases, it's absolutely critical to be open and honest about your past and present health, as any inconsistencies that arise could end up costing you a license or job opportunities. It's also worth noting that even if you pass, this isn't a set-it-and-forget-it situation. You will only be cleared to drive for two years, and you may be required by your doctor to have occasional check-ins if there are any concerning issues that do not present themselves as problems just yet.
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