Driving with OSA*

*This applies to pilots and train drivers as well as drivers of cars, vans, HGVs and to vigilance critical operators such as forklift truck drivers or operators of heavy machinery.

Tips for managing patients who drive vehicles, trains, planes, etc, or vigilance critical operators

Giving patients at all stages of the OSA pathway – before and after diagnosis and treatment – clear driving advice “Anyone with excessive sleepiness having or likely to have an adverse effect on driving should not drive”, as per the DVLA Fitness to Drive guidance. Flag to them this is their responsibility. This can potentially be documented in letter templates and any information from the Sleep clinic.

According to the DVLA guidance on Excessive Sleepiness LINK, “Anyone with excessive sleepiness having or likely to have an adverse effect on driving should not drive” but patients do not need to inform the DVLA if OSA is suspected. If excessive sleepiness with suspected OSA persists beyond 3 months, the DVLA ask to then be notified.

Patients should always carry out safe driving according to the guidance “Anyone with excessive sleepiness having or likely to have an adverse effect on driving should not drive”, but if they have received treatment for OSA and are no longer sleepy, they should be able to drive as normal. The DVLA wants to be notified by the patients who have excessive sleepiness with a diagnosis of moderate or severe OSA or mild OSA with ongoing sleepiness for more than 3 months. DVLA will require medical confirmation that the condition is controlled, sleepiness is improved, and they are adherent to treatment.

There is no mention in the DVLA guidelines of people without excessive sleepiness needing to notify them of their OSA diagnosis. The guidelines focus only on those people with excessive sleepiness.

Sleep health care professionals should aim to have a rapid turnaround for information requests from the DVLA. These are straightforward and quick to complete. There should not be a need for additional correspondence outside these requests.

Signpost patients to the DVLA advice on the Sleep Apnoea Trust website ahead of contacting DVLA themselves

Update regarding extension of medical professionals who can sign DVLA Medical Questionnaires:

ARTP Conference Presentation by Dr Sophie West: OSA, driving and DVLA requirements

SATA:  Guidance for UK Drivers with OSA

 OSA Partnership Group: OSA and Driving

If you have patients you want more information on driving and OSA, both The OSA Partnership Group and The Sleep Apnoea Trust have a lot of useful information and guidance.

The OSA Alliance is an umbrella organisation to facilitate collaboration between experts across UK patient and professional sleep organisations. Its remit focuses specifically on obstructive sleep apnoea, where a united approach can facilitate excellence in OSA-related care, education and resource. This website has been developed using the experience, expertise and views of the OSA Alliance. It is supported by funding from ResMed who have not been involved in any aspect of the site development.

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To find out more about the OSA Alliance,
please contact:

Gillian Gibbons
m: 07795 342804