Here at Pall-Ex, we think it is important that all members are kept up-to-date with issues impacting on the industry. Earlier this year, the RHA joined forces with the RAC to raise awareness of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) / Obstructive Sleep Apnoea-Hypopnoea Syndrome (OSAHS) among professional drivers.
We invited guest columnist and motoring law expert Anton Balkitis, from law firm Rothera Sharp, to explain why he believes this is one issue that should be receiving our full attention.
The joint campaign from the RHA and RAC focuses on the message that drivers with undiagnosed sleeping conditions arguably pose a greater risk to road users than being a drunk driver. That alone should be enough to make anyone in the industry sit up and take notice.
Typically, OSA / OSAHS makes sufferers feel drowsier than others during the daytime, meaning they can quickly lose concentration. The major concern is that many HGV drivers are reluctant to see their GP because they fear losing their livelihoods.
The good news is that the conditions can be very easily treated. However, the harsh reality is that doing nothing can result in falling asleep at the wheel, with obviously grave consequences. This is bad enough for car drivers, but if your job is to control a 40-tonne lorry, then the outcome can be appalling.
Two-years ago the OSA Partnership called for HGV drivers to receive swifter treatment if they were diagnosed with OSA / OSAHS. The proposal would have seen a fast-track system, whereby lorry drivers are diagnosed and treated within four weeks. However, today, little has changed, prompting this latest push from the RHA and RAC.
"The harsh reality is that doing nothing can result in falling asleep at the wheel, with obviously grave consequences. This is bad enough for car drivers, but if your job is to control a 40-tonne lorry, then the outcome can be appalling.
The fact is that treatment is readily available, albeit not as swiftly as many would like, but that has got to be better than the alternative.
If that is not enough to prompt any drivers overwhelmed by tiredness to take a trip to see their GP, then they should also consider the legal implications of driving with OSA / OSAHS.
The DVLA says it must be informed if you have either Obstructive Sleep Apnoea which affects your ability to drive safely or Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome. Remember, you can be fined £1,000 if you fail to let it know about a medical condition that affects your driving. Not all people with OSA / OSAHS will have to stop driving, but the DVLA will need to consider what happens next.
It is obvious that OSA / OSAHS is not something that can be ignored and hauliers across the country should take this opportunity to make employees aware that it is one issue they should wake up and pay attention to.
For more information on motoring law, visit www.keepmeontheroad.co.uk or contact Rothera Sharp’s expert transport team on 0800 046 3066.