Finishing your CDL training is just one step toward becoming a professional truck driver. Before you can get started on your new career, you’ll have to pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam. In fact, you will have to pass DOT exams several times throughout your trucking career. Drivers are required to undergo physical exams at least once every 24 months in order to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

But what happens if you end up failing the DOT physical exam? Good news⏤this is not the end of your trucking career. We share what you can expect at your first DOT exam, reasons someone may fail, and what to do if it happens to you!

What are they testing?

The DOT physical exam was designed to ensure that drivers are physically stable and healthy enough to be behind the wheel. Truck driving comes with a lot of responsibility, you need to be able to operate the vehicle efficiently and safely. The purpose of DOT physicals is to collect the applicant’s medical history in a short amount of time. You will be required to supply any significant medical history along with current medications or physical limitations.

It’s important that you be honest and answer all questions to the best of your ability. In addition to getting your medical history, the doctor is also going to examine the following:

  • Hearing
  • Sight
  • Blood pressure
  • Urinalysis
  • Spine, limbs, and extremities
  • Lungs
  • Abdomen
  • Equilibrium
  • Reflexes
  • Speech

Why did I fail?

There is a lot covered in these physical exams and of course, not everyone passes on the first try. There are many reasons a driver may fail the DOT exam, some things are within your control and others are not. A glitch in the urinalysis could be to blame or there you may have simply be deemed unqualified to drive a motor vehicle. There are a few reasons you could be considered unqualified to drive including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Epilepsy
  • Alcoholism or drug use
  • Missing extremities
  • Cardiovascular or respiratory disease
  • Diabetes
  • Poor eyesight or hearing
  • A nervous or psychiatric disease

Though you may fail the physical exam, it’s important to remember that there may just be something slightly off that you could correct. For example, if you have failed the eyesight or hearing tests of your DOT physical, you may be in luck! If your problem can be rectified with corrective lenses or a hearing aid, you will be able to prove your sight or hearing has been fixed. There are also exemptions that are put in place for these instances.

How can I pass?

Even though you may have not passed the DOT exam on the first go-round, you are not out of luck. Here are a few next steps:

  1. The first thing you should do is clarify why you failed the physical.
  2. Ask your doctor if they have any suggestions or what steps you need to take in order to pass. If you’ve failed it also won’t hurt to get a second opinion from another doctor. Knowing exactly what your doctor needs from you is going to help you obtain your goal.
  3. If the reason you failed is outside of your control, you may be eligible to receive an exemption if it can be proven that your safe to operate a large vehicle.

When it comes down to it, being able to pass DOT physical exams is an important part of your career in trucking. This will be a regular thing you can expect to face in the trucking industry.

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Part of being a truck driver is being comfortable working with sometimes tight deadlines. Both the trucking company you work for and the customer receiving the delivery expect for things to arrive on time. Meeting these tight deadlines requires drivers to have effective time management.

Newer drivers may especially struggle with gauging how long it will take to make the delivery on time. The following are 6 great ways for truck drivers to manage their time effectively and keep customers happy as a result!

1. Give Yourself Extra Time

When traveling new routes, or even familiar ones, it’s always best to leave a little bit of extra time. A lot can happen out on the road that is completely outside of your control. Traffic, weather, or accidentally taking a wrong turn can add a lot of extra miles to your trip.

If you know that you have to deliver by a certain time, then plan to get there with maybe an hour or two to spare. Allowing for that extra time can make all of the difference in the long-run and there’s nothing wrong with being early! In fact, it just means you’ll get to head home that much sooner.

2. Ensure You Have Enough Gas

It may sound kind of ridiculous but always make sure you are driving with extra gas in the tank. If you get caught in a traffic jam or an area happens to have a gas shortage, you might run out before you get to your final destination. Running out of gas is a sure way to ruin a trip and make your order late. Plan ahead by filling up when you can to avoid disappointing your client.

3. Finding A Quality Parking Spot

It can be challenging to find a parking spot at truck stops during prime parking hours. Driving around several times looking for a spot or to park far away can cost you valuable time that can otherwise be spent driving and making your delivery on time.

Apps That Help with Parking

One great way to combat this issue is to reserve a spot through either the TA & Pedro Stopping Centers TruckSmart mobile app or the MyPilot app. Reserving a parking spot ahead of time will give you peace of mind and help you stay on track!

4. Try to Avoid Traffic

Traffic can be a tricky thing to predict but will become easier with more driving experience. For example, if you know you’re going through a major city at rush hour, consider looking for an alternative route to avoid the traffic. Avoiding traffic can buy you precious time, save gas, and help you be on time.

Apps That Help with Traffic

While you can’t always avoid traffic, keeping up with traffic alerts or using traffic apps like Google Maps or  Waze can help you stay on track.

5. Set Mileage Goals

Setting mileage goals can help you determine how productive you are being with your time. Breaking your route up into sections will allow you to evenly spread your stops and stay on track with your end goal.

If you drive an average of 8-9 hours a day, you can expect to drive roughly 400-500 miles. Use the number of miles to determine when it’s best to take breaks or how many breaks you should take to reach your destination on time.

Moreover, some companies may even give financial or other incentives to those who reach their mileage goals on a consistent basis as they are typically able to produce more for their company.

6. Get Plenty of Rest

There is nothing quite as essential as getting an appropriate amount of rest each night for truck drivers. Driving a big rig requires you to be alert at all times as you are responsible for both the safety of yourself and others on the road. Getting plenty of rest will keep you from having to pull over if you feel like you’re going to fall asleep, which can derail you from an otherwise on-time delivery. Sacrificing a few daily miles is worth it in the end because it buys you more miles and helps you be as safe as possible.

These are just 6 great tips to help drivers make their deliveries on time. Being on time, or even early, can make all the difference in your customer satisfaction. It can be challenging for new drivers to meet their deadlines at first but comes naturally as you become more experienced. Effectively managing your time can exponentially improve your chances of being promoted and making a long, quality career back into the forefront.

Need to hit refresh on your truck driving career? DriveCo offers a customizable CDL Refresher course to help you get back on the road! Contact us today to learn more!

It’s National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (September 9th-15th, 2018) and we would like to say thank you to all present, past, and future truck drivers. There are many reasons truck drivers deserve our appreciation, not just this week, but every day. Discover why truckers are the heroes of the road, in disguise!

Mastered Complicated Driving Skills

Being a successful truck driver requires mastering complicated maneuvering skills. Have you ever considered how difficult it would be to operate a tractor-trailer? It’s not the small compact car you may be used to driving, instead, they are large cabs with even larger trailers attached. Getting into tight spaces is difficult and requires extra patience, dedication, and skill. Drivers can perfect their skills through a good CDL training program and gaining experience with time.

Keeping Our Economy Moving

If you bought it, a truck driver brought it. All sorts of goods are transported by truck drivers ranging from furniture, clothing and office supplies to the more essential items like food, medical supplies, and gas. Truck drivers are responsible for everything arriving on time and without damage regardless of bad weather or any other complications they may face along the way. Truck drivers play a major role in keeping our economy moving. If there were no truck drivers on the road, there would be no deliveries and our economy would essentially come to a standstill.

They’ve Made Sacrifices to Keep Us Going

Being a professional truck driver is no simple task. The biggest challenge for most long-haul truckers is the personal sacrifices they have to make. Long-haul drivers are away from home for extended periods of time. Their job requires that they spend days, or even weeks, away from their loved ones. Though it pays well, life on the road isn’t exactly glamorous. Imagine being away from the comforts of your home. Sleeping in a smaller bed or carrying your toiletries to the bathroom so you can shower. There are plenty of ways for drivers to create comfort on the road, but nothing compares to home sweet home.

As you can see, truck drivers really are the heroes of the highway. They make a major impact on our society and deserve to be appreciated! Join us in celebrating National Truck Driver Awareness Week by giving special thanks to drivers. Show them your appreciation with kind words, a friendly wave, or a nice gesture. Use this week an opportunity to thank these real-life heroes!

Calling all heroes⏤are you ready to become a hero in disguise? DriveCo has the training you need to succeed in trucking! Contact us today to get started.