In the UK, the DVLA states clearly that a patient with OSA should inform them of the condition and that driving should cease until symptoms are controlled. A patient who is successfully treated for their sleep related breathing disorder can continue driving provided they are no longer symptomatic.
The Physician should regularly ask about history of drowsy driving and sleepiness-related accidents or near-miss accidents. Consider the history of snoring, witnessed apnoeas and other features suggestive of a sleep disorder.
Sleepy patients should be advised that if they hold a driving licence they must follow the DVLA’s guidance. Include in your consultation:
People whose work involves driving or operating heavy machinery are particularly at risk if they have undiagnosed OSA, because if they fall asleep on the job they may cause serious accidents. The current estimate for the prevalence of OSA in HGV drivers is over 15%. OSA is therefore not just a risk for the individual, but also to society as a whole due to the increased risk of fatal accidents. The impact of these road collisions, which include fatalities and lifelong disability, are associated with great emotional distress and broader societal costs. One fatal accident is estimated to cost approximately £1.5 million to society, and sleepiness accounts for around 20% of all road collisions. Many of these are likely to be caused by people with undiagnosed OSA although exact figures are unavailable.
The DVLA advises: