What are the DOT Medical Condition Disqualifications for CDL Drivers?
Although people who have medical conditions are certainly able to live a fully functioning life, there are some instances in which their condition might put them or others in dangerous conditions. One of these instances is commercial truck driving. Driving a truck is different from driving an everyday vehicle, like a Subaru or Jetta. That is why there are several medical disqualifications for CDL drivers.
A driver must be able to maneuver a 40-ton semi-truck; changing lanes, driving winding roads, and managing any unexpected situations that may come up. Drivers have to always be aware of their surroundings and fully in control of their vehicle. Not only that, but they also have to be able to handle all forms of inspections, deliveries, and loadings. Due to the demanding nature of the job, there are D.O.T. disqualifying medical conditions which may prevent someone from getting a CDL.
Perhaps the most obvious of all disqualifications for CDL license is vision impairment. The minimum vision requirement for a CDL driver is 20/40, meaning that “you can see only as good as a normal person can see at 40 feet away from an eye chart.” Being able to see the road at all times is an inflexible standard. Even being colorblind can potentially disqualify you, since traffic lights and road signs can potentially be misinterpreted.
For decades, hearing loss was a medical disqualification for CDL drivers. But in 2014, FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) lifted its ban, kicking off a new wave of deaf CDL drivers by approving 40 CDL applications. Many think it is due to the recent shortage of truck drivers, but the claim is unconfirmed.
Seizures and Epilepsy
The Department of Transportation prohibits those diagnosed with epilepsy or with a history of seizures from obtaining a Commercial Driving License, although they do try to take it case by case. If a driver were to lose consciousness while on the road, they would lose control of the vehicle, threatening the lives of themselves and others. Epilepsy is a CDL medical disqualification and some states even prohibit people from driving for leisure if they have a history of seizures.
Diabetes may also be a disqualification for CDL license, but the medical condition is not an immediate disqualification. Just like the cases with epileptic drivers, most CDL applications from diabetics are investigated as an individual case. Diabetics can procure a license, given they pass certain exams and receive the proper certifications. Among a few other requirements, the driver must have a “stable insulin regimen and properly controlled insulin-treated diabetes mellitus.”
There are other medical disqualifications for CDL drivers that include Meniere’s disease, oxygen therapy, and certain mental illnesses. But at the end of the day, they are put in place for the safety of the driver and others on the road. The standards that need to be met to get your CDL are not unreasonable, considering how demanding this profession is. Fortunately, even if truck driving isn’t for you, there are still a lot of options for career and life paths for people who are disabled or otherwise at a disadvantage.