Untreated sleep conditions can make driver more dangerous than being over alcohol limit, says RAC

Untreated sleep conditions can be a greater risk behind the wheel than being over the drink-drive li

Untreated sleep conditions can be a greater risk behind the wheel than being over the drink-drive limit. - Credit: PA

Prominent organisations say there should be fast-track diagnosis and treatment for professional drivers with sleep conditions.

Driving with an undiagnosed sleep condition can be even more dangerous than drink-driving, according to two of the country's largest automotive organisations.

The RAC and Road Haulage Association (RHA), which represents freight companies and truck drivers, claim that conditions such as obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (OSAS or OSA), can be a greater impairment than being over the drink-drive limit.

OSAS can make sufferers feel drowsier in the daytime and increases the likelihood of falling asleep at the wheel, thus endangering both the sufferer and other road users.

Prof John Stradling, a member of the OSA Partnership Group, said: 'It is worth reminding anyone who considers driving with untreated OSAS that the impairment to driving can be considerably greater than exceeding the legal alcohol limit.

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'There is a high risk of drivers with untreated OSAS losing concentration and falling asleep behind the wheel, leading to injury or death.'

The RAC and RHA are calling for a fast-track diagnostic and treatment system for those who drive professionally, targeting a maximum of four weeks between diagnosis and treatment.

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According to the RAC, some drivers are currently waiting months for treatment, which can mean they lose their jobs. It may also be reducing the number of drivers willing to test for the condition.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, 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.

'Something like OSAS can affect anybody, regardless of ability and experience, which is why we feel it is vital that they have access to fast-track diagnosis and treatment that ensures job security and they are back on the road within a few weeks.'

Do you suffer from a sleep condition which took a long time to diagnose? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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