In order to obtain and keep a commercial driver's license (CDL) to drive a commercial motor vehicle, the Department of Transportation requires truck drivers to have a current medical card. A medical card is issued after passing a specific physical exam every two years, performed by a licensed medical examiner who files a medical examination report and a medical examiner certificate. Certain conditions disqualify drivers from receiving a valid medical card.
The required medical exam includes a physical exam of the entire body system by a licensed medical examiner, a medical and mental health history, vision and hearing tests, blood pressure exam, and urinalysis. Truck drivers must be free from diseases and disorders that impair their ability to drive safely. Drivers cannot suffer from diabetes, epilepsy, vision and hearing problems, breathing, heart and mental conditions, alcohol and substance abuse, and conditions that cause restrictions in movement. The physical medical exam must certify that drivers do not have any of those afflictions, which make driving unsafe.
Medical Examination Report
The medical examination report for commercial driver fitness determination documents the physical examination in seven sections. At the top of the report, the driver’s personal identification information is recorded: name, address, date of birth, age, driver’s license number and social security number. In the next section, the driver fills out a medical history, which the doctor documents. The vision exam is documented, certifying the driver's acuity and horizontal field of vision in each eye. The driver's hearing exam, during which each ear is tested separately, is documented. The driver’s blood pressure/pulse rate is documented from two separate readings.Laboratory tests and other test findings such as the required urinalysis are documented. The last section records height, weight and all body systems from the physical exam.
Medical Examiner Certificate and Medical Card
If the driver meets all of the physical examination requirements outlined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (49 CFR 391.41-391.49) and the exam is properly documented, the medical examiner signs the medical examiner certificate and issues the driver a corresponding wallet-size medical card. That certifies the examiner’s statement that the medical exam was performed and by whom (stating the examiner’s medical license and state of issue), that the driver met all requirements, and the expiration date of the certificate. Medical cards are currently valid for two years unless there is a medical condition that requires monitoring but doesn’t disqualify driving.
The DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations disqualify CDL drivers who have diseases and disorders that impair their ability to drive. The following are disqualifying conditions: diabetes; hypertension; heart disease; loss of limb and limb impairment; rheumatic, arthritic, orthopedic, muscular, neuromuscular or vascular diseases; respiratory dysfunction; epilepsy; mental disorders; vision loss; hearing loss; drug use; and alcoholism.