Campaign urges drivers with sleeping disorders to return to work sooner

A campaign has been launched calling for professional drivers diagnosed with a sleeping disorder to be back behind the wheel within four weeks following first referral.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) is thought to affect as many as 40,000 commercial vehicle drivers and prevents sufferers from getting a good night’s sleep, leaving them feeling chronically tired.

Driving with OSAS can make the chance of having a road traffic accident between three and nine times more likely and increases the severity of the accident.

The campaign has been launched by the OSA Partnership Group, a collective set up to raise awareness of the condition.

The group has requested that the Department of Health issues guidance to hospitals and GPs to expedite treatment of vocational drivers with OSAS to enable driving again within a maximum of four weeks following first referral.

“In my experience vocational drivers are often the safest on our roads but those with OSAS have no control over their sleepiness,” said Professor John Stradling, a member of the partnership group.

“We also know that these drivers are reluctant to come forward with symptoms of OSAS for fear of losing their licence, and therefore their livelihood.”

Jenny Powley, sales director at the RAC, which is backing the campaign, said: “In the long term business as a whole will benefit as drivers who suspect they may be suffering from OSAS will be able to get the treatment they need and be back on the road much more quickly, which is a better outcome for the business owner, fleet manager and everyone concerned.”