Diabetes and Driving
Complications of diabetes such as diabetic eye disease (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease (nephropathy), cardiovascular disease, and peripheral vascular disease, can affect your ability to drive. Incidents of hypoglycemia are also a concern when driving as they can be extremely dangerous.
These factors are different from person to person; people with diabetes have the right to be assessed for a drivers licence on an individual basis. In order to assess the suitability of people with diabetes to drive, medical evaluations are needed to document any complications and to assess blood sugar control, including how often one experiences hypoglycemia and the severity of the hypoglycemia events.
Hypoglycemia means low blood glucose levels; often this is when your blood glucose is below 4.0mmol/L. Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar can affect driving performance and may contribute to some of the accidents that involve people with diabetes.
Requirements for ALL Drivers with Diabetes
Persons with diabetes should:
- Have their fitness to drive assessed on a case-by-case basis by their family doctor.
- Take an active role in helping to assess their ability to drive by maintain accurate medical records, accurate BG logs and a well-calibrated BG meter.
- Be able to demonstrate how they are able to avoid, recognize and appropriately treat for hypoglycemia.
- Measure their blood sugar immediately before driving and at least every 4 hours during long drives. They should always carry a blood glucose monitor, fast acting sugar and appropriate snacks in the vehicle and that are within reach (ex. attached to the sun visor).
- NOT drive when their sugar is less than 5.0mmol/L. If sugar is less than 5.0mmol/L treatment with fast sugar is needed and following appropriate hypoglycemia protocol is required. Persons should not drive for at least 45-60 minutes after effective treatment of the low blood sugar, maintaining a blood sugar >5mmol/L for at least 45 minutes.
- STOP and TREAT themselves as soon as hypoglycemia and/or impaired driving is suspected. Again, persons should not drive until at least 45-60 minutes after effective treatment of the low blood sugar.