Over the years, there have been growing concerns over increasing fatality rates in commercial vehicle accidents. Each year, thousands of accidents involving trucks and other commercial vehicles have led to fatalities, injuries, property damage and millions of dollars in insurance claims. It is against this backdrop that the Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced physical examinations to ensure everyone behind the wheel of these vehicles is physically fit.
Why Commercial Vehicle Safety Matters
To appreciate the emphasis of commercial vehicle safety on the roads, consider a 2010 report from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that says close to 300,000 million miles are covered by commercial trucks in one year. In the same years, over 3,413 people died in accidents in large truck accidents with 14% of deaths being of occupants in the trucks while 86% of fatalities being occupants in other vehicles, pedestrians and other road users.
Among the main causes of these accidents include driver fatigue, lane drifting, improper truck maneuvering, and speeding among others. From data compiled by road authorities including National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA), and The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) among other organizations, it is obvious that most commercial vehicle drivers are not fully fit to be behind the wheel. These accidents could have been avoided if these drivers had undergone regular medical tests and training.
Crucial Role of DOT Physical Examinations
DOT physicals are a set of examinations whose results will determine whether you are fit to continue driving a commercial truck. With the high fatality rates involved in truck accidents, there is no overemphasizing the important role these physical examinations play.
The examination must be carried out by a medical examiner certified by the Department of Transportation to be valid. These professionals must be on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) national registry and they can be physicians, nurse practitioners or physicians’ assistants.
This physical examination has been developed by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as one of the strategies to enhance public safety on the roads. Unlike other drivers, CMV drivers are held to higher standards because of the vehicles they operate.
A physical examination ensures a CMV driver is physically, mentally and emotionally fit to be on the road. Among the physical tests that will be done include:
- Examination of medical history – You have to provide your medical history to give a more comprehensive assessment of your current medical situation.
- Vision test – This ensures you don’t have impaired vision and if you do, contact lenses or glasses are recommended. The recommended minimum vision is 20/40 in both eyes.
- Blood pressure/ heart rate – A thorough examination of your vitals is done to determine your physical and mental condition at the time of the test.
Others are diagnostic tests on your ears, throat, skin, spinal cord, lungs, and other body parts to ascertain that you are not suffering from any condition. By getting a physical, you are able to protect your driving license because the medial certificate you receive is valid for 24 months.
DOT physical examinations not only give a thorough assessment of your current health but also boost your chances of finding a job in the trucking industry. It is therefore important to find a medical examiner certified by the Department of Transportation and get this all-important physical examination.