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What kinds of medical issues could make it harder for me to become a truck driver?

DOT Physical medical symbol

A major component of getting your CDL and landing a driving job will be a physical examination. The FMCSA requires that every driver who holds, or wants to attain, a commercial drivers license must submit and pass a DOT physical examination at least every 2 years.

The DOT physical will check a drivers overall physical health and include eyes, ears, blood pressure, limb impairment, and a drug and alcohol screen.

Additionally, every individual company will administer their own physical as a part of the pre-employment process, which may also include a physical fitness test to make sure a driver can handle the job, or a hair-follicle drug screen.

Do I have to take a DOT physical? What should I expect?

Generally, the DOT physical is along the same lines as you would expect from your general practitioner. Hearing, vision, medical history, limb impairment, vascular system and blood pressure will all be included.

What if I am taking prescribed medication for an existing medical condition?

Aside from the classes of illegal drugs, the FMCSA does not keep a master list of prohibited prescription drugs for drivers, but in general any medication that affects, or could potentially affect, a drivers ability to safely operate the vehicle will be disqualifying.

The FMCSA does specify that anti-seizure medication, as well as methadone use, are disqualifying medications.

Any driver who expects to be taking prescription medication, or has taken any recently, will normally need to get some kind of documentation from the prescribing doctor attesting that

What kinds of medical issues could disqualify me as a truck driver?

By far the two biggest reasons that drivers fail their physical are for high blood pressure, and sleep apnea. Drivers with high blood pressure (hypertension) can still be medically certified, but for shorter periods of time depending on the severity. Additionally, drivers with insulin-treated diabetes are disqualified unless they are approved for an exemption as seen below.

Sleep apnea isn't specifically addressed by the FMCSA in their regulations, but many, many companies will require a driver to undergo a sleep evaluation and use a CPAP machine if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is high enough.

Can I get an exemption for a disqualifying medical condition?

Yes, the FMCSA does have exemption programs available for drivers that cannot meet the DOT requirements for vision, hearing, diabetes, and physical impairment.

Drivers will need to apply to the FMCSA for exemptions before receiving their medical certification.

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