How Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Driving?
Because sleep apnea affects your sleep, it also affects your daytime alertness and performance. Untreated sleep apnea can make it difficult for you to stay awake, focus your eyes, and react quickly while driving. In general, studies show that people with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of being involved in a fatigue-related motor vehicle crash.
If you drive a truck or bus for work, if you operate a delivery vehicle, even if you’re an Uber or Lyft driver, you must adhere to DOT drowsy driving compliance.
Many sleep apnea patients say they never fall asleep while driving. That may be true. But remember, you don’t have to fall asleep to have a crash. You simply have to be inattentive or less alert — and with untreated sleep apnea; you are not as sharp as you should be. In fact sleep deprived drivers test to be worse than drivers under influence of alcohol.
A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations found that almost one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found sleep apnea to repeatedly be a culprit in commercial driver crashes.
Can You Still Drive if You Have Sleep Apnea?
While FMCSA regulations do not specifically address sleep apnea, they do prescribe that a person with a medical history or clinical diagnosis of any condition likely to interfere with their ability to drive safely cannot be medically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) in interstate commerce.
However, once successfully treated, a driver may regain their “medically-qualified-to-drive” status. It is important to note that most cases of sleep apnea can be treated successfully.
If you’re an employer who wants to screen employees for healthy sleeping, please use the link to learn more.
The state of Kansas sets its own medical standards for driving a CMV in intrastate commerce, check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles for for full details. But know that compliance is mandatory.
Please contact us today to learn more about this program or to set an appointment to gauge your overall sleep health. Use the short form below or call us at (913) 203-4040.