Are You Fit To Drive? | Sleep Clinic Services

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Are You Fit To Drive?

sleepy driver

You may have a sleep disorder that makes you unfit to drive. And not even know about it! Sleep apnea and driving can lead to hefty fines and loss of licence. And that’s not even considering the danger to yourself and others.

According to scientific tests, sufferers of Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) experience an impairment in performance. Sleep apnea and driving is a bad combination. As a matter of fact, having sleep apnea and driving is similar to having an illegal blood alcohol level.

And, if you suffer from sleep apnea and driving, you are 7 times more likely to be involved in a car accident. That’s compared with a healthy sleeper. Not only that but if you have untreated sleep apnea and driving, you’re actually breaking the law.

All States and Territories in Australia have laws about reporting health conditions that may affect your ability to drive safely. And these laws have been created to protect public safety.

That means that if you have a drivers licence, you must report any long-term medical conditions. Your condition may affect your ability to drive safely. And that includes if you have sleep apnea and driving. Or any existing SDB condition.

Do not wait until you renew your licence. Report your conditions as soon as they develop.
 

What Impairs Your Driving Ability?

According to the Association of Australasian Road Transport and Traffic Agencies (Austroads)some medical conditions may impair your driving ability. So can treatments. Common examples include:

  • Blackouts
  • Sleep disorders
  • Vision problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Alcohol or drug dependency
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Medications you are taking for other conditions

Furthermore, some medications can also affect your ability to drive safely. These include:

  • Sleeping pills
  • Anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications
  • Painkillers
  • Allergy and cough/cold medicines
  • Diabetes medications
  • Blood pressure medications.

For this reason, ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of your medication. Furthermore, different drugs affect each other. So make sure your doctor or pharmacist know about all of the medications you’re taking.

Your Responsibilities As A Driver

According to Australian Federal and State laws, you must report any permanent or long-term illness that is likely to affect your ability to drive safely to your Driver Licensing Authority.

As a matter of fact, legally you are responsible for the results of your impaired driving. And drowsiness or not being able to concentrate is not a defence. Even if it’s a result of your sleep disorder.

For instance, if you have a Queensland drivers licence you must report your long-term medical conditions.

Otherwise, if you do not report your condition, you may receive a fine of over $7,000. And have your licence cancelled.

And if you are a truck driver you may face hefty fines. Under existing Australian OH&S laws, truck fleet operators are responsible for making sure their drivers are fit to drive. In fact, as well as a big fine you may also lose your license for not reporting your condition to licencing authorities.

Assessing Your Fitness to Drive Commercial and Private Vehicles

Think you have a condition that affects your ability to drive safely? See your doctor as soon as possible.

Health professionals you can talk to includes:

  • Doctors
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Physiotherapists.

You can also bring the private and commercial vehicle driver’s health assessment (F3195) form to your appointment. It may help your doctor assess your fitness to drive. Your doctor will use Assessing Fitness to Drive for Commercial and Private Vehicle Drivers to assess whether you are fit to drive.

What Are the Signs of Having SDB?

Common signs of sleep-disordered breathing like sleep apnea include:

    • Regular snoring during sleep
    • Witnessed apnoeic events (Usually by your spouse or partner)
    • Falling asleep at strange times. Especially during non-stimulating activities. Like watching TV, reading, travelling in a car etc.
    • Feeling tired even though you went to bed at a decent time

    Sleep Clinic Services offer a unique online Sleep Self Assessment Questionnaire. It combines a range of scientifically validated and professionally approved screening systems. For example, the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, the Karolinska Scale, the Flemons Predictor, and more.

    In other words, this questionnaire gives a very accurate sleep assessment.

    Click the blue link to complete your personal Sleep Self Assessment Questionnaire.

    When You Need a Medical Certificate

    If your doctor believes you are fit to drive, you may need a medical certificate (F3712). And you must obey any conditions on it while driving.
     
    Medical certificates are valid for a period depending on:
    • Your condition
    • How often your condition needs to be monitored

    Furthermore, you must carry your medical certificate with you while driving if you:

    • Have the ‘M’ licence condition on your licence
    • Are 75 years of age or older. Your certificate will be valid for 12 months. And you will need to visit your doctor at least every 12 months to get a new one.
    All drivers over 75 must carry a valid medical certificate while driving. Moreover, medical certificates issued after 1 January 2014 for drivers over 75 will be valid for 12 months.
     
    Ultimately, you could be fined over $2,350 for not carrying your medical certificate.

    How Your Licence Is Affected

    Your license is affected by your medical condition and the recommendation of your health professional.

    Your licence could be:
    • Amended to include a licence condition
    • Suspended
    • Cancelled

    You must surrender your licence if a medical professional determines that your medical condition makes it unsafe for you to drive.

    If you need an adult proof of age card, you can use your license before you surrender it. However, it must be expired for no more than 2 years to do this.

    By the way, if you surrender your licence voluntarily or have it cancelled because of a medical condition, the adult proof of age card may be free. For more information visit your local transport centre.
     
    If you drive while your licence is suspended or cancelled, you may get the maximum fine amount or jailed for up to 1 year.
     
    If you don’t agree with the decision you can either:
    • Ask your local Department of Transport and Main Roads to reconsider it.
    • Apply to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal in your State for a review.

    Conditional Licences

    Incidentally, just because you have a condition that may affect your driving, doesn’t mean that you can’t drive at all. If you are undergoing successful treatment, a conditional licence may be issued to you.

    Visit your doctor if you are issued with a conditional licence. After all, it’s your responsibility to comply with any restrictions that your doctor may prescribe.

    Unsure Whether You Have An SDB problem? Act now!

    Get the ball rolling now by completing a free online Sleep Self Assessment Questionnaire. Once submitted, one of our friendly professional Sleep Therapists will analyse your data. And we’ll contact you to discuss your results and options. All obligation free.

    All your information remains strictly confidential and will not be shared.
     
    By the way, this is not a diagnostic sleep study. And does not replace the need to have one done. But it will identify whether you do need a diagnostic sleep study.
     
    DISCLAIMER – INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS ARTICLE IS GENERAL IN CONTENT. IT SHOULD NOT BE SEEN AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE.
     
     

    RESOURCES:

    Assessing fitness to drive for commercial and private vehicle drivers: Download PDF
    General driver licensing agency contacts: DLA Locations
    Complete an online: Sleep Self Assessment Questionnaire
    Download a Sleep Study Referral Form

    READ WHAT OTHER PATIENTS THINK:

    Michael Hicks - "You literally saved my life!"
    Jim Goldring - "I was going for periods of up to 1min 17secs without breathing!"
    Belinda Skinner - "The results of my home sleep study were very prompt and explained in great detail"  

    FURTHER READING:

    What is snoring and sleep apnoea?
    Common Myths About Sleep
    Quality vs Quantity - How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?
    Do I Need a Sleep Study?