Driving with an undiagnosed sleep condition is more dangerous than drink-driving, according to the RAC and the Road Haulage Association (RHA)
The two organisations have joined forces to raise awareness of conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS), particularly among employers of commercial vehicle drivers.
They points to research published earlier this month* which shows that driving with conditions such as OSAS can be more of an impairment than having too much to drink.
The partners are backing calls for a fast track diagnostic and treatment pathway for those suspected of having the condition, especially those who drive for a living.
Currently drivers can wait months for treatment but the RAC and RHA have thrown their weight behind the ‘Four Week Wait’ campaign which calls on the Department for Health to implement a four week waiting limit from diagnosis to treatment.
Typically an OSAS sufferer will not always be aware that they have the condition, but will feel drowsy during the daytime and therefore become more prone to fall asleep at the wheel when driving.
Nicholay Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesperson, said: “Commercial drivers are vital to the health and growth of the UK’s economy, so it’s only right that those behind the wheel are safe and aware of any health threats that might impair their driving ability.
“HGV drivers are among the most highly trained and skilled on the roads, but something like obstructive sleep apnoea can affect anybody, regardless of ability and experience, which is why we feel it is vital that they have access to a fast track diagnosis and treatment that ensures job security and they are back on the road within a few weeks.”
Colin Snape, RHA deputy policy director, said: “Drivers need to have confidence that if they come forward they will get treatment quickly, so that they can return to driving in no more than four weeks.
“The ‘Four Week Wait’ campaign sets out the standard that NICE needs to adopt if the transport community is to tackle this important road safety issue effectively.”