Medical Disqualification For Unfit Drivers

by Rhonda

This is a topic that all of us need to be concerned about - not just drivers. America is overweight from eating way too much of the wrong foods. Concern for getting unfit drivers off the road is coming at us, and has already started.

I have collected articles about many drivers being taken off the road after many miles (millions) of accident free driving because they failed their DOT physical after having had one of the disqualifying factors for years. Your medical card is taken away and you have now lost your job. On the other hand, I have an article about a driver who had his CDL taken away by the DOT though it was just fine letting him get/keep his pilot's license saying that this person is fit for flying. You can be missing an arm and be qualified to drive with a prosthetic limb. You can even be a paraplegic and drive a big rig.

I do not understand why you are allowed to take away a person's job/CDL who has had a disqualifying factor for years because it was caught at the DOT physical, with no discussion of grey area. It is so cut and dry to put everyone in the same category. Your perfect record does not matter to those who made the rules. You can get an attorney and sue, and maybe you'll win like others have done - but that is a long process.

Now, being out of shape is a reason to take drivers off the road. I know many of you have read about it in the trucking magazines. Recently in our forum, I said "I could not fathom being dismissed from your job, having your CDL taken away from you when you failed certain guidelines, but your job performance and driving record are perfect. So don't worry about it". I was wrong. Like it or not, this is fast approaching and trucking/truckers are going to be made into a scapegoat. Who is next? People who sit at desks all day? Is fast food going to be outlawed? Food police at the grocery stores telling you what you cannot buy?? This is all silly, but look around at some of the laws we have now.

The powers that be have spoken, and it can't be changed quickly, but we can do things now to change the results for many drivers who are borderline UNFIT. Now is the time to take control, drop the weight, and get healthy to keep your job.

This includes me, and I have lost 20 pounds in the last year. I ate when my father died to get through the grieving process, and I also did not care about myself and how I looked. I hid the weight well and could not believe I could weigh so much. April 2008, I had to take another DOT physical per new employer rules even though I had plenty of time left on my current medical card. The weight shown on my medical papers for my employer to see shocked me. It was a nasty number. I had been working on losing and toning up before this, but it was not enough to lower the number as much as I preferred. I was SKINNY while being an OTR driver, so this was not right.

I cut out white processed bread and taters daily, and did leg lifts and walking. Yes, I have a job where I am home nightly, but that does not matter. Eating right is something we need to do, and I even did it on the road. I did lots of leg exercises in the sleeper and I walked every chance I got at shippers and during break. I had fresh fruits and veggies with me. Even bought them at the truck stops which costs more, but it was the better choice. I also did some cooking at home and brought about two days' worth and kept it in my cooler with ice, re-heating the food in the lunch box cooker. I even bought soups, and with all their salt (which is not good for you) it made a cheap and filling meal. You need to eat breakfast, and I do not mean donuts. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. On the road or now, I eat something every 3-4 hours, maybe a meal, or just parts of it, or a (good or bad) snack. I drink very little pop. I am a "lots of water and black coffee (no sugar/cream)" person. When you get enough points on your fuel card, you can then use them to get some of the more expensive items at the truck stops, so that way they are free or will cost you much less. For new readers, professional drivers can get Driver Payback cards at participating truck stops. For every gallon of fuel pumped, you get one point/cent on the card. When enough points are on the card you can then get your free food/drink/clothing item.

Here are a few choices for good things to eat and have in the truck/car/at work:

Oranges, peaches, plums, grapes, strawberries, cucumbers, celery, apples, air popped popcorn, peanut butter, fruit smoothies, sunflower seeds, olives, herbal tea, water, non-fat yogurt, frozen yogurt. I go through a lot of canned mandarin oranges, both in the truck and at home. For your meals, eat in moderation and make the better choice of grilled versus fried for your meats.

Many companies are starting the Employee Wellness program, and if you drive for a major carrier, some of the terminals do have a workout room. This is also a great place to get your walking in.

It is not going to be easy to accomplish weight loss as quickly as the weight went on. Together, WE can get fit and healthy, be ready for our next physical, and maybe even be ready for our employers' new rules that are being implemented. I want to get back to the weight I had in 2004. No, I am not going to tell what that was. I will tell you that I will achieve that goal, and will be here to motivate you and cheer you on in your results. So come on over to the trucking forum where this will take place.

CDL:

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.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

DOT:

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.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
by Brett Aquila

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