What is a DOT Physical?
A Department of Transportation (DOT) physical is a health examination mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers. A DOT physical helps determine if a driver is physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to operate a commercial vehicle.
Commercial drivers are safety-sensitive employees; they perform a job that can impact their own safety and the public’s safety. Employers of commercial drivers must comply with federal regulations for DOT physicals.
What Happens During a DOT Physical
The DOT physical will include a health history review of the driver by a certified medical examiner (CME). The CME will also check the driver’s vital signs and perform a thorough examination, evaluating a number of health-related categories, such as:
- General appearance
- Lungs and chest
- Eyes and ears
- Mouth and throat
- Nervous System
- Back and Spine
Upon exam completion, the CME will report the results to the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME). Certified drivers will receive a copy of the medical examiner’s certificate (MEC), or DOT medical card.
What Employers Should Know
- Only a CME can administer a DOT physical.
- A DOT physical is required when a driver operates a CMV across state lines (i.e., interstate driving).
- Employers of intrastate drivers (i.e., drivers who stay within one state) are subject to the physical qualification regulations of that specific state.
- The National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners (NRCME) has a current list of CMEs.