Life on the road can be hard. It can be lonely, boring, and taxing on a truck driver’s mind. It can also be a challenge for drivers to stay physically healthy. In order to monitor driver health, the Department of Transportation (DOT) issues periodic physicals. DOT cards were once valid for about two years, but as driver health has decreased they are being tested more often. In an interview with The Journal Times, Dr. Lynn Biese-Carroll mentioned that about 90 percent of her clients are CDL drivers and that most are “over 40, overweight, and [have] two or more health conditions.” The trucking industry can’t afford to lose more drivers, especially because of avoidable health issues. Here are some easy tips to help you stay healthy and pass your next DOT physical!
What Does the DOT Physical Cover?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) makes medical examiners follow very specific rules for all truck driver physicals. These doctors also need to fill out a federal form and send it in after each test. Studying this form will help you understand how you should prepare for an upcoming exam.
A DOT physical requires you to list your full medical history. You must include previous surgeries, current medications, substance abuse issues, and any other diagnoses.
After reviewing your medical history, the examiner will test the different areas of your health. This includes your vision, hearing, pulse, and blood pressure. Your overall health will also be checked for abnormalities. The exam includes a urinalysis test, which will detect any drugs in your system, as well as the amount of blood, sugar, and protein in your urine. Your exam results will be sent to the licensing agency in your state immediately.
Tips For Passing The DOT Physical
Sitting in your cab for more than 8 hours a day is a major health risk. Many experts believe that this inactivity is linked to health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. So make sure you’re getting some exercise when you’re not on the road. This can include walking, running, or doing some exercises specifically for truckers. Anything that can get your blood circulating will improve your overall health. Physical activity also lowers your blood pressure and can help to burn off that delicious (but greasy) burger you had for lunch.
Change Your Diet
We understand. Diners and other quick bites are incredibly hard to resist, but you have to keep your visits to a minimum. When choosing what to eat, replace red meat with baked or grilled chicken. Sorry, not fried. It’s leaner and it still tastes great! When picking a drink, try to cut soda out of your diet and get your caffeine from coffee or tea instead. These simple changes will help to lower your blood sugar and lose weight.
Say No to Drugs and Alcohol
Sounds obvious, right? Drinking while driving is like adding fire and gasoline. It’s not only illegal, but it will harm your chances of passing your DOT physical. If your physical shows any signs of alcohol in your system, it could lead to license suspension and even mandatory counseling. This goes for any drugs in your system as well. Instead of risking your life and your career, it’s best to just stay away.
Mind your Meds
If you have any prescription medications, make sure you’re taking them as directed. Taking your medication at irregular times could cause your exam results to be inaccurate. It’s very important to make sure that you don’t run out of your prescriptions before the DOT physical. Sudden withdrawal from medication can also impact your test results.
Do you have any other tips for how to stay healthy for the DOT physical? Share them with us in the comments below!