How To Control Your Blood Pressure To Get Your CDL Approved

The life of an average truck driver is mostly spent on the road, accompanied by fast foods, energy drinks, and inconsistent physical activities. The most probable health consequence of such a lifestyle is hypertension or high blood pressure. Not to scare whoever is pursuing a career in commercial truck driving, but according to DOT and FMCSA, the qualifying limit for a CDL approval is a high blood pressure reading of 140/90 and below. Drivers who have high blood pressure that reads beyond 140/90 risk being disqualified from attaining a CDL. Fortunately, there are various loopholes that CDL drivers can use to their advantage. Ultimately, CDL drivers must check their blood pressure to avoid disqualification.

CDL and Blood Pressure

In giving out CDL certificates, three hypertension levels are considered for approval.

Stage 1 Hypertension:

People with stage 1 hypertension normally have high blood pressure between 140/90 and 150/99. Since they are at low risk of hypertension-related driver incapacitation, truckers in this category may get a DOT medical card to operate for one year. However, the driver should have reduced his/her blood pressure to 140/90 after one year to be re-certified. In most cases, if the blood pressure has improved but is still above 140/90 during the re-certification, the DOT medical may be extended for three months. The extended certificate is non-renewable, and if, after three months, the driver’s blood pressure is not 140/90 or below, he/she is taken out of service until the criteria are met.

Stage 2 Hypertension:

Drivers with stage 2 hypertension have blood pressure ranging between 160/100 and 179/109. Due to their higher risk of incapacitation, a 3-month certificate to drive is the best they can get. The driver is immediately disqualified if the blood pressure is not at 140/90 or below after the 3-month DOT medical card expires. To re-apply again for certification, the driver has to wait for one year.

Stage 3 Hypertension:

Anyone with a blood pressure of 180/110 and above is considered to have stage 3 hypertension. The risk for acute blood pressure-related complications is too high, and drivers in this category are disqualified. Not even a temporary DOT medical card can be given to a driver with stage 3 hypertension. The only way to get certified at this stage is to lower your blood pressure to 140/90 or below. Even if the driver manages to lower his/her blood pressure to 140/90 or below, a DOT physical exam must be re-done every six months.

The good news is that reducing your blood pressure significantly before the next DOT physical is possible. However, don’t forget to control your blood pressure on a long-term basis for the sake of your health.

The following tips will likely keep your blood pressure in check at a healthy level if followed in the letter.

Drink a lot of water 

Excessive sodium in the body is one of the major causes of high blood pressure. Drinking a lot of water will hydrate your body and balance the sodium levels.

 Keep off the junk food

Overeating junk food will only make it likely for you to get hypertension disorder since they have high fat, sodium, and calories. Obesity leads to high blood pressure, and fast food is to blame for the bigger part of it. Instead, substitute junk food for a potassium-rich diet, such as potatoes, white beans, leafy greens, bananas, and dried apricots. Potassium-rich food can help to reduce high blood pressure a few hours after digestion. Vegetables and fruits rich in nitrate/nitrite, such as beetroot juice, have the same short-term effect on blood pressure. 

Avoid coffee, cigarette, and alcohol

If you have been red-zoned as a hypertensive patient, alcohol should be the last thing on your mind. This is because drinking excessive alcohol increases blood pressure directly. Caffeine and nicotine are not an exception since they also affect blood pressure to your disadvantage on a short-term basis. Although nicotine and caffeine have minimal blood pressure effects in the long term compared to the short term, you can’t afford to take a chance if your DOT physical exam is due. 

Get enough sleep

Inadequate sleep increases the risk of hypertension and cardiovascular complications. If you are an insomnia type, try getting some prescribed pills or chewing valerian root to help you sleep. Exempting the daily mandatory sleep before your next shift, a 1-hour nap during the day is helpful too. 


Exercising after a hectic day on the job is easier said than done. The best solution is to work out in the morning before returning to the road. Even a 15-minute jog every morning will be significant in the long run.