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Drivers must take sleep apnea test for licence in Dubai: Expert

  • Sleep apnea can cause severe daytime sleepiness, a contributing factor in many road accidents.

Drivers must take sleep apnea test for licence in Dubai: Expert

Sleep apnea can cause severe daytime sleepiness, a contributing factor in many road accidents.

Professional drivers, including taxi drivers and long-haul truck drivers, should undergo sleep apnea testing as a prerequisite for acquiring or renewing a driver’s license, a Dubai-based medical expert said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Dubai Health Forum on Monday, Dr. Fabrizio Facchini, consultant pulmonologist at Valiant Clinic, said that such measures should be taken to limit the risks of driving while sleepy. Sleep apnea can cause severe daytime sleepiness, a contributing factor in many road accident incidents in Dubai, he noted.

Facchini said sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, resulting in severe excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS).

Sleepiness, like excessive speed, driving under the influence of alcohol, aggressive driving and inclement weather, contributes to or causes motor vehicle crashes. EDS affects approximately 5 per cent of the world population and 20-25 per cent of highway motor vehicle accidents can be attributed to fatigue and sleepiness, he noted.

“Reports do not mention sleepiness as the cause of road accidents, but sudden changing of lanes or swerving in some cases are brought on by sleepiness. Sleepy drivers are also less likely to take instinctive evasive action to avoid crashes,” Facchini added.

Facchini is persistent that drivers with sleep apnea should desist from driving.

But the good news is, the sleeping disorder is a treatable one.

“Polysomnography – a painless study done in clinics or home setting to monitor a person’s sleep patterns – can be done on patients. During sleep, we monitor the brainwave activity, respiratory patterns, heart rate, chest movement, etc and provide effective and immediate therapy,” he noted.

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