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Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: The silent killer on our roads

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Driving when tired is a known risk, highlighted by the Government’s shocking ‘Think!’ campaigns used to remind road users of the dangers. Some general advice given is to plan breaks into journeys and avoid travelling long distances at night, but for some road users this is an issue that is much harder to avoid.

The DVLA have recently produced a document outlining the facts relating to drivers with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome. This is a condition whereby the sufferer not only experiences a cessation of breathing during their sleep, but also excessive sleepiness in the daytime. This can have a serious effect on both alertness throughout the day and long-term health.

The condition is of particular concern to HGV drivers, whom spend most of their time travelling at high speeds on our roads. With an estimated 20% of motorway traffic accidents being caused by excessive sleepiness this is a real issue which the DVLA wish to tackle; to ensure all drivers are aware of the condition, and the symptoms they should watch out for.

A number of fatal accidents have been reported over the years which were found to have been caused by undiagnosed sleep apnoea, which is particularly sad as this is a treatable condition.

Hopefully the DVLA’s attempts to draw attention to this issue will raise awareness among drivers, and prompt those with symptoms to consult their GP and get the treatment they require.

By claims handler, Katie Plappert