Unfortunately I cannot drive nowadays, I was diagnosed two years ago as suffering with Sleep Apnoea having suffered with it undiscovered for many many years. My Sleep apnoea count, the number of times in any one hour I stopped breathing, was registered as 67. This straight away placed me in the severe category and I was obliged by law to sign a form at the hospital confirming I had been told, I then had to inform the DVLA in Swansea about the facts and they took up references with both my General Practitioner and the hospital and concluded I was no longer safe to drive and I had to cut up my licence and return to Swansea.
You suddenly find how restrictive life becomes when you cannot just ‘pop in the car’ to do the odd bit of shopping or be able to share the driving with your partner, my lovely wife in my case, on those long journeys. It can be very frustrating, I always considered myself to be a good driver but I now realise that there were times when because of my Sleep Apnoea I actually ‘dropped off’ to sleep at the wheel whilst driving. It may have only been for a split second or sometimes longer but certainly, if I was unlucky, long enough to cause and accident and possibly kill someone or at least put them in a wheelchair for a while. Fortunately to my knowledge that never happened but beware there are so many people out there suffering from the same problem and not yet diagnosed. If you wake up in the morning and get out of bed and on a regular basis still feeling tired and if you can sit down during the day and just ‘drop off’ then ask your partner, if they haven’t already complained, how bad your snoring is and if you ever go quiet. If they say you snore loudly and do on occasions go very quiet then consult your doctor as these may well be signs of Sleep apnoea and it could be that you are in danger of hurting yourself or others by unintentionally dropping off to sleep.
The silly thing is that despite having no driving licence, I can should I want to, get myself a mobility scooter and go off and ride the pavements perhaps terrorising the shoppers in town. If I got one of the mobility scooters with lights mirrors and indicators and horn that are capable of driving at speeds of up to 8mph I could legally ride it on certain roads. Dual carriageways and motorways are excluded. The silly thing is that I would not need a driving licence or have to take a driving test to use one of these scooters, you should always make sure you have insurance on the scooter just in case you have an accident but it is not required by law. It is a required though with the bigger scooter, ones that are capable of road going, that you obtain a licence disc from the DVLA, this is free of charge but very few people realise that their pride and joy scooter should display one and if the Police where to ever ‘crack down’ a lot of the users would be in serious trouble possibly even have their scooter confiscated.
I am not saying that going to sleep in charge of a mobility scooter is as dangerous as doing it in a car but believe me at speeds of 4, 6 or 8mph you can still do a lot of damage! A lot of users do not realise that driving a mobility scooter of whatever power means that the same as any car or motor bike driver you are subject to the highway code. Obviously some people are not aware of this and on Saturday whilst my wife was driving me through town I noticed a lady driving her mobility scooter with her dog running alongside her on a lead. Not only was she contravening the highway code she was also putting herself in danger, had the dog seen something that he or she wanted to chase she could have pulled the lady off her scooter or perhaps even pulled her into the road with disastrous consequences.
So please remember you need to drive with care whatever sort of transport you are in charge of!