The DVLA has recently amended its regulations for drivers who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA). This is great news, as over recent years we have been campaigning hard to make the process of coming forward for treatment as straightforward as possible, particularly for those who drive for a living.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) – OSA with symptoms – causes sleepiness and can be a risk factor for road traffic accidents, as driver reactions are impaired. It is of particular concern with commercial vehicle drivers who spend a long time at the wheel and tend to live a sedentary lifestyle.
SMMT’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme includes involvement with the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) Partnership Group, which counts representatives from the commercial vehicle sector, clinicians, patient groups and those interested in health and safety at work as members.
Following the introduction of the EU Directive in January 2016, there was much confusion about when a driver, thought to have sleep apnoea, had to notify the DVLA and this resulted in some losing their licences unnecessarily, albeit temporarily.
The new wording focuses on ‘excessive sleepiness having, or likely to have, an adverse effect on driving’ and therefore whether a driver is safe to continue to drive. Previously the DVLA had used a measurement made during a sleep study that does not always suggest that sleepiness is affecting driving.
This is good news for our industry and is a much clearer and fairer way to assess whether driving can continue.