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DOT Eye & Vision Exam Requirements

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2015

What New Drivers Need To Know About The DOT Eye Exam:

As part of the DOT physical, drivers will be required to prove that they can see well enough to drive safely.

In some cases, drivers who cannot meet the vision requirements can apply for a Driver Exemption.

How Does The DOT Vision Test Work?

A person must have distant visual acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in each eye without corrective lenses or visual acuity separately corrected to 20/40 (Snellen) or better with corrective lenses, distant binocular acuity of at least 20/40 (Snellen) in both eyes with or without corrective lenses, field of vision of at least 70 in the horizontal Meridian (the horizontal meridian runs from the observer's left, through the fixation point, and to the observer's right) in each eye, and the ability to recognize the colors of traffic signals and devices showing standard red, green, and amber;

In other words, you must have clear vision, at least 20/40 with or without glasses/contacts (what you can see at 20 feet, someone with perfect vision can see at 40), your eyes can see side-to-side normally, and you can recognize the colors on traffic signs and signals.

Note: Color vision: The color vision requirement is met by the ability to recognize and distinguish among red, amber, and green, the standard colors of traffic control signals and devices. True color perception is not required.

The visual acuity test is used to determine the smallest letters you can read on a standardized chart (Snellen chart) or a card held 20 feet away.

In the event that a driver requires corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses) in order to read the eye chart, the Medical Examiner will indicate this on the medical report, checking the box labeled "Qualified only when wearing corrective lenses", which will also appear on your physical CDL license, in one form or another.

DOT Physical Vision Exemption:

In certain cases, drivers that cannot pass the normal vision test can be granted an exemption by the FMCSA

See Also: DOT Physical Exemptions

See Also: FMCSA Driver Exemption Programs


Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.


Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA)

The CSA is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that are related to commercial motor vehicle


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation on January 1, 2000. Their primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

What Does The FMCSA Do?

  • Commercial Drivers' Licenses
  • Data and Analysis
  • Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement
  • Research and Technology
  • Safety Assistance
  • Support and Information Sharing


Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.


Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.


Operating While Intoxicated

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