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How to Drive with Supplementary Oxygen in Your Car?

Using portable oxygen concentrator while driving

A respiratory illness doesn’t mean a loss of freedom. Many patients with illnesses such as COPD and cystic fibrosis can continue their active lifestyles normally with the help of supplementary oxygen. That includes driving. 

If You are Driving

Follow these tips for driving safely and legally with supplemental oxygen.

  • Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. State laws vary when it comes to regulating supplemental oxygen use while driving. In most instances you may need to submit a Customer Medical Report. This statement from your doctor attests to the fact that you can maintain an oxygen saturation level of 90% or higher while safely operating a motor vehicle.
  • Store oxygen tanks securely either on the floor of the car or buckled up in the passenger seat.
  • Keep a window cracked to help with ventilation
  • Keep your tanks away from fire and avoid smoking around the tanks

TIP: Instead of oxygen tanks, use a portable oxygen concentrator. They are safer and easier to transport. Learn more about the benefits of oxygen concentrators vs oxygen tanks.

If Someone Else is Driving

Most states are more lenient when the passenger in a car is using oxygen therapy. If you have a reliable, safe driver you can continue your oxygen therapy without a worry in the passenger seat. However, be sure to maintain the same safety measures with oxygen tanks. Or use an oxygen concentrator instead to ensure the highest level of safety for you and your driver. 

Preparing Your Portable Oxygen Concentrator for Travel

If you decide to use a portable oxygen concentrator, here are some tips for getting ready for a road trip. 

  • Never leave your oxygen concentrator in the car. Extreme temperatures can damage the unit.
  • Always take charging cords. You never know if you have to take a detour or your trip is delayed, and you need to charge up your unit. 

Taking Public Transportation with Supplementary Oxygen

You can board buses and trains without worry when you have your portable oxygen concentrator. Thankfully, they are designed to be compact and lightweight.

For flying, check with your airline for rules regarding your portable oxygen concentrator use. Some airlines may require that your battery last a little more than the duration of the flight for safety reasons. 

If your oxygen concentrator has limited battery capacity and you are planning a long flight, look into battery backups for peace of mind. Airline power cords are another option for in-flight charging. 

Driving with Supplementary Oxygen in Winter

Driving in winter can be dangerous for anyone. Including supplemental oxygen in the car adds another risk factor. Using your oxygen concentrator while driving in winter requires that you take extra precautions such as bringing along batteries and power cords in case you get stuck in the snow. 

Always be prepared when driving in winter by packing an emergency kit in your car. Having a respiratory illness makes an emergency situation such as a breakdown in cold weather far more critical.

An Emergency Kit Checklist When Driving in Winter

  • Your Portable Oxygen Concentrator power cord and battery backup
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger
  • Hand warmers and blankets
  • Jumper cables
  • Extra boots and gloves in case the ones you are wearing get wet
  • Emergency flares
  • A first aid kit
  • An ice scraper
  • Cat litter for tire traction in the snow

Find portable oxygen concentrators at The Oxygen Concentrator Supplies Shop. For help selecting an oxygen concentrator for your travel needs speak to our knowledgeable customer care team. We’re here to answer any questions. Give us a call at 888-941-1688 or email us at

Chris Vasta

Chris Vasta is the president of The CPAP Shop and an expert in sleep and respiratory therapy. He often provides insights on product design and functionality on various manufacturers’ prototypes and is frequently tapped to provide reviews on new releases.