Providing signposts for drivers with OSA on World Sleep Day

19th March 2021, Oxford – A new guide has been launched to try and make it easier for drivers to understand the rules around Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) and driving. 

For people with OSA – believed to affect in excess of 1.75million people in the UK alone – their sleep can be very disturbed. In the case of severe OSA, people with the condition can wake up hundreds of times a night without realising. As a result, they may wake up still feeling sleepy, but not understanding why. Clearly excessive sleepines is not good when combined with driving; but having OSA does NOT mean that you can’t drive again, it just means that you need to make sure that you get the treatment needed to control any symptoms.

The OSA and driving guide has been launched by the OSA Partnership Group, a voluntary group which works to increase awareness of the condition, and it provides a step-by-step guide to make it clear whether those with OSA need to stop driving or not, and when it is safe to get behind the wheel again.

Professor John Stradling, from the OSA Partnership Group comments, “Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is particularly common amongst middle-aged men, especially those who are overweight. Studies have shown that when a driver with untreated symptomatic OSA gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are between 3 and 9 times more likely to have an accident and that this accident is likely to be of increased severity. 

“Clearly it is very dangerous, both for the individual and for other road users, if anyone drives a vehicle when experiencing sufficient excessive sleepiness to impair their ability to do so. There is a higher risk of having a road traffic accident. However, our new guide aims to help make it clear when someone should stop driving, and when it is safe to start again.”

Although awareness of OSA, and the availability of very effective treatment available for the condition, has grown in recent years, there is an understandable reluctance from those who rely on their driving licence to come forward for treatment. However, seeking treatment and following the rules, makes it possible for OSA patients to be as safe on the road as any other driver.

The OSA and Driving guide can be found on the OSA Partnership website

The British Thoracic Society position statement with specific scenarios can be found on their website


“We are very aware that for vocational drivers, quick access to treatment can make the difference between an individual either deciding to seek help, or deciding on the alternative of continuing to drive because they are fearful they will lose their licence, and thus their livelihood”.
F.W. Johnston. B.A., F.C.A. Chairman of SATA.

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To find out more about the OSA Partnership Group, contact:

Gillian Gibbons 
m) 07795 342804