Monday, January 4, 2016

New rules on driver licensing for patients with obstructive sleep apnea: European Union Directive 2014/85/EU

The widespread recognition that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) represents an important risk factor for motor vehicle accidents, which is reversed by successful therapy with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), has led to a revision of Annex III of the European Union (EU) Directive on Driving Licences. This directive was the result of recommendations from a Working Group established by the Transport and Mobility Directorate of the European Commission in 2012 (McNicholas, 2013).

The new Directive, which is subject to mandatory implementation by all Member States from 31 December 2015, states:
‘Applicants or drivers in whom a moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is suspected shall be referred to further authorised medical advice before a driving licence is issued or renewed. They may be advised not to drive until confirmation of the diagnosis. Driving licences may be issued to applicants or drivers with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome  who show adequate control of their condition and compliance with appropriate treatment and improvement of sleepiness, if any, confirmed by authorised medical opinion. Applicants or drivers with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea syndrome under treatment shall be subject to a periodic medical review, at intervals not exceeding 3 years for drivers of group 1 (i.e. non-commercial drivers) and 1 year for drivers of group 2 (i.e. commercial drivers), with a view to establish the level of compliance with the treatment, the need for continuing the treatment and continued good vigilance.’

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