Vision Requirements for CDL Drivers

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As just about anyone in the industry will tell you, commercial driving is a job that demands the utmost precision, safety, and continued awareness of your surroundings in order to be successful. Most are aware of the fact that trucking across the country is a profession12 depending on people with a high capacity for physical and mental endurance. With all sorts of regulations and health standards, commercial drivers need to meet strict criteria in terms of their health and physical requirements. One of the single most important aspects of staying safe and efficient on the road is meeting vision requirements for CDL drivers.

Vision Requirements for CDL Drivers

With millions of people on the road each second of the day, one of the most important aspects of someone’s ability to operate a commercial vehicle is their vision. Whether you are considering becoming a commercial driver or have been in the business for years, it’s important to maintain the health of your eyes however possible! These vision requirements for CDL drivers are very strict, though it’s all for good reason.

vision requirements for CDL drivers

Tests to Determine Good Eyesight

The most common test for ensuring someone has met the vision requirements for CDL drivers is known as the Snellen Test. This is the standard doctor’s eye chart or vision chart test measuring a driver’s ability to see as clearly as a person with average vision can see at the same distance. People with 20/20 vision are able to distinguish the same size text from 20 feet away as the standard for average vision.

However, the vision requirements for CDL drivers go one step further. To obtain your CDL, individuals must have 20/40 vision, meaning they can read text from 40 feet away with the same accuracy of the average person being only 20 feet away. If a driver doesn’t meet this requirement, it’s likely they’ll receive glasses or contact lenses to achieve this Snellen score.

Range of Vision

Seeing the vision requirements for CDL drivers isn’t all about being able to read small text from 40 feet away — you must also have a healthy range of vision. In order to be safe on the road, it’s required that a driver’s vision extends at least 70 degrees to each side. Having a full range of peripheral vision is extremely important in terms of becoming aware of other vehicles, making turns, or just avoiding objects on the road. Unfortunately, for drivers who suffer from a visual impairment such as tunnel vision, it can become unlikely that they will ever earn a CDL.

Seeing the Right Colors

Another factor that can disqualify individuals from meeting the vision requirements for CDL drivers is color blindness. Although most people are aware of whether or not they are colorblind to start with, there are several different types, each presenting different difficulties for people with these traits. Essentially, any type of color blindness which makes it difficult for someone to identify the colors of traffic lights and signs will likely cause them to become ineligible for a commercial driving career.

vision requirements for CDL drivers

An example of a vision test used for certain types of color blindness.

How to Keep Your Eyes Healthy

Whether you have perfect vision or there’s room for improvement, there are several things you can do to ensure your eyes stay healthy for a long career of commercial driving.

1. Eat for Your Eyes — Foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and E such as strawberries, oranges, eggs, salmon, almonds, carrots, crab, and turkey can all support healthy eyes.

2. Exercise your Eyes — Rolling your eyes in circular motions, massaging your temples, and even warming your eyes with the palms of your hands for minutes at a time can help you avoid fatigue and keep these muscles strong.

3. Wear Sunglasses — This is huge! Driving on the road during all times of the day can really take a toll on your eye’s health. Always opt for UV protecting lenses and make sure the tint of the lenses still allow you to accurately identify colors when necessary.

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As always, be sure to get regular eye exams to ensure your vision is what it should be. Vision can often go overlooked (pun intended) in terms of keeping up with your health overall. Hopefully, you’re at a good place to maintain your current vision for a long and happy career in commercial driving!

Author: Hit The Road Jack

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7 Comments

  1. DELAWARE MOTOR VEHICLE SAY I CAN’T read line Idid But I Reead 8 letters they said 12 ,There were no more 20/20

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  2. If a driver fails a physical due to colorblindness, can that driver get a prescription pair of glasses to correct that and still be able to operate a commercial vehicle?

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  3. 20/40 vision is not a further step, it is a more relaxed step. The statement in the article is reversed. “Normal” vision is 20/20. … 20/40 vision means that the test subject sees at 20 feet what a person with normal vision sees at 40 feet.

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  4. I have a employee who has 20/20 vision in one eye but he has 20/400 in the other eye. Will the state take away his CDL for this? This all came about from an unexplained health issue.

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  5. Can someone with night blindness hold a CDL? I have checked out the DMV website as well as the FMCSA and cannot find the answer. thanks!

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    • Have you tried calling them or talking to a local CDL school?

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