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Can you have a CDL with sleep apnea?

Truck driver using a CPAP machine while sleeping in their truck.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

About 26 percent of adults between ages 30 and 70 have sleep apnea. Considering this, it's likely there are people interested in starting their professional truck driving career wondering, “Can you have a CDL with sleep apnea?”.

The short answer to this question is yes. Those with sleep apnea are eligible to keep or receive their CDL.

How do truck drivers get treated for sleep apnea?

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

A CPAP machine is a device worn during sleep. The device increases the air pressure in your throat so your airway doesn’t collapse when you breathe in. This allows you to get deep, restorative sleep.

Is a sleep study required for DOT physicals?

A sleep apnea test is not currently required during a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical, but examiners should still be assessing whether drivers show risks for sleep apnea. Here are the DOT sleep apnea guidelines if a driver shows risk:

  • Examiners give drivers a 3-month card. This card allows them time to schedule and complete a sleep study.
  • Those diagnosed with sleep apnea must use a CPAP for treatment.
  • Drivers with sleep apnea must bring their compliance report to their next physical. This report shows they are using their recommended treatment.
  • Drivers receive a DOT medical certification card issued for one year rather than the possible two years.

Schneider's sleep apnea program

Since 2006, Schneider has improved the health of thousands of drivers through its sleep apnea program. Fatigue-related incidents have improved 44% since Schneider created the program.

Schneider's program entails:

  • All new company drivers are screened for sleep apnea. Those found to be at risk for obstructive sleep apnea go through testing.
  • Home sleep studies are primarily used for testing. This allows the driver to sleep in their own bed or in the cab of their truck rather than in a clinic.
  • Schneider drivers with sleep apnea receive a CPAP machine and supplies free of cost. Schneider’s employee health insurance program considers the treatment preventive care.

Video: Associates share their experience with Schneider's sleep apnea program

Tammy, a recruiter, and Steve, a driver share their experiences with sleep apnea and truck driving.

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About the author
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Andrea is Director of Regulatory Services at Schneider. She has been with the organization since 2004, primarily in safety and regulatory areas. She previously worked in Operations for Schneider’s Tanker division. She holds an MBA from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She is an active member of the Transportation Research Board – Truck and Bus Safety subcommittee. She is also a current member of the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) Research Advisory Committee. She lives in Green Bay, Wis., with her family.

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