Regulations on sleep apnoea and driving
The Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has regulations for people who have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, because these drivers are much more likely to be involved in crashes by falling asleep at the wheel.
Group 1 licence holders (car/motorcycle) diagnosed with sleep apnoea must stop driving until the symptoms have been controlled and confirmed by medical opinion.
Group 2 licence holders (LGV) diagnosed with sleep apnoea must stop driving until the symptoms have been controlled, and must have ongoing treatment. Licensing reviews will be carried out regularly, usually annually.
A new leaflet ‘Think! Tiredness Can Kill’ has been published by the DVLA, offering advice for drivers on the risks of sleepiness while driving. The leaflet is available for download here.
It is essential that drivers know they must:
- Take regular breaks (at least 15 minutes every two hours)
- Get a good night’s sleep before journeys
- Do not drive if they know they feel tired
- Look out for the warning signs of tiredness when driving, such as increased difficulty concentrating, yawning, heavy eyelids, eyes starting to ‘roll’ and neck muscles relaxing, making the neck start to droop
If a driver feels tired or notices any of these warning signs they should:
- Get off the road as soon as it is safe to do so
- Find a safe parking place
- Drink one or two energy or caffeine drinks if not allergic to caffeine
- Take a short nap for 10-15 minutes, by which time the caffeine or energy drink will have taken effect. It is important the driver does not sleep for longer as they enter a different kind of sleep
- Be aware the caffeine only has a short-term effect