Department of State GrowthTransport

Sleep disorders and driving

Sleep Disorders can cause excessive sleepiness, resulting in the person falling asleep unexpectedly whilst driving. This increases the chance of crash and puts other road users at risk. Any person driving with a sleep disorder will be legally required to notify the Registrar of Motor Vehicles as soon as practicable. These disorders include:

  • Sleep Apnoea
  • Narcolepsy

People without sleep disorders can also experience excessive sleepiness due to sleep deprivation, irregular sleeping patterns and interrupted sleep. Prescription medicine, alcohol and drugs can also impact on sleep and driving ability.

How do these conditions affect driving ability?

  1. Possibility of falling asleep whilst driving
  2. Fatigue and loss of attentiveness/concentration, causing the driver to drift between lanes and miss road signs

What are the symptoms?

  • Falling asleep unexpectedly, with no warning of oncoming sleep
  • Snoring/difficulty breathing when sleeping
  • Excessive sleepiness, blinking and yawning
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Inability to remember driving the last few kilometres

What precautions can I take?

  • Avoid driving after missing a large portion of normal sleep
  • Avoid driving at times when the driver would normally be asleep
  • Avoid alcohol and sedative medications before driving
  • Ensure prescribed treatments are taken as required
  • Rest and limit your driving if you are sleepy
  • Take a break for every 2 hours of driving and swap drivers frequently
  • Be aware of the signs of drowsiness