Whether you are seeking employment as a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver or are undergoing routine testing, Department of Transportation (DOT) testing ensures that you are physically fit for your job. What is DOT testing, and why is it essential for workers in safety-sensitive positions? Total Occupational Medicine has put together a helpful guide on what is involved in DOT testing at our clinic in Baton Rouge so that you can feel confident about meeting regulatory guidelines.
What Is DOT Testing, & Why Is It Important?
DOT testing was established to help ensure the safety of the public by detecting and preventing the use of controlled substances and alcohol by employees in safety-sensitive positions. This includes trucking, aviation, and mass transit in transportation industries such as:
- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
- The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
This testing helps to prevent accidents caused by employees under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job. And, results of this evaluation can also shine a light on each driver’s current physical and mental health to ensure they are fit to operate a CMV. The goal is to create a safer working and traveling environment for all.
What Does DOT Testing Cover?
At Total Occupational Medicine, we offer DOT testing in Baton Rouge for CMV drivers. Testing is performed by an FMCSA-certified medical examiner. Testing follows a five-step process.
1. Physical Exam
CMV drivers are required to sit for long periods, and this can put strain on their joints or inflame preexisting medical conditions. The physical exam portion of DOT testing includes a review of the driver’s medical history and a physical examination. This evaluation highlights any medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, that could affect a driver’s ability to drive their vehicle. And, it tests a driver’s physical response time, which can help prevent accidents on the road.
2. Vision Test
A driver must be able to see clearly in order to react to other vehicles, pedestrians, and potential hazards on the road. The vision test includes a visual acuity test, a peripheral vision test, and a color vision test. The visual acuity test measures the driver’s ability to see clearly at a distance while the peripheral vision test measures the driver’s ability to see objects to the sides of their field of vision. The color vision test is performed to check the driver’s ability to distinguish between colors, which is important for identifying traffic signals and signs.
DOT regulations require that CMV drivers have at least 20/40 vision in each eye, with or without corrective lenses. They must also have a field of vision that is at least 70 degrees in each eye.
3. Blood Pressure & Pulse Rate
A blood pressure and pulse rate check can indicate an individual’s overall cardiovascular health and how it affects their duty as a CMV driver. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. And, it may impair cognitive function, reaction time, and decision-making skills. During the physical examination, the certified medical examiner will take the driver’s blood pressure and pulse rate using a blood pressure cuff and a stethoscope.
A two-year DOT medical certification requires that CMV drivers have a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or less and a pulse rate of fewer than 100 beats per minute.
4. Hearing Test
Drivers must be able to hear sirens, horns, and other warning sounds on the road as well as communicate with drivers, dispatchers, and other personnel. The hearing portion of DOT testing begins with a “forced whisper” test. The examiner whispers a two-syllable word five feet away from the driver. If the driver fails to hear and repeat the word, they will undergo an audiometry test, which measures their hearing threshold at different frequencies. The examiner will use headphones to present the sounds to the driver and will ask them to indicate when they can hear the sound.
A urinalysis can screen for potential health concerns that could affect a driver’s ability to drive. For example, high levels of glucose in the urine can be a sign of diabetes or other metabolic disorders. The presence of blood in the urine can indicate a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, or other medical conditions. Or, elevated levels of protein in the urine can be a warning of kidney disease or other kidney problems.
Be aware that your urinalysis will also detect prohibited substances like marijuana, amphetamines, and opioids. Detection of these substances can lead to the loss of your certification or license.
How to Prepare for Your DOT Test
On the day of your DOT test, make sure to come ready with these items:
- Two forms of ID including your current driver’s license
- Any items that help your function, like glasses or hearing aids
- A medical release letter from your primary care doctor if you have preexisting medical conditions
- A list of your current medications from your prescribing doctors
Before your test, make sure to familiarize yourself with the testing process. Do what you can to alleviate stress before your test, and abstain from cigarettes and caffeine. This can be beneficial to the blood pressure and pulse rate monitoring portion of the test. And once your test is complete, make sure to ask for a copy of your test results for your personal records.
Take Care of Your DOT Testing in Baton Rouge
DOT testing helps to ensure that a driver meets the health standards that allow them to safely and efficiently operate a commercial vehicle. This, in turn, helps to protect the safety of the driver, their passengers, and others on the road. Get DOT testing at our facility on Drusilla Lane or at one of our nineteen partnered Lake Urgent Care clinics located in Baton Rouge and the surrounding south Louisiana areas. Feel free to give us a call with any questions. We look forward to helping you meet the requirements to obtain or maintain your commercial driver’s license!