The law says anyone who takes certain tablets for diabetes or uses insulin injections to control their blood sugar must notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and consent to a report from their doctor, to see whether they can continue to drive. This is because there’s a risk of unexpected hypoglycaemia — a sudden fall in blood sugar level that leads to irritability, erratic behaviour, drowsiness, confusion or unconsciousness. Risks are higher with insulin, but this can also occur with some diabetes tablets and the rules are stricter for public service vehicle and Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers. Diabetes can also affect the eyes, so annual eye tests are compulsory.
The risks are lower if diabetes is well controlled. Insulin users must also monitor their blood sugars regularly, using a meter that keeps a record and drivers must know when to do extra checks, take preventive action and must stop driving if they have a severe daytime hypoglycaemic attack. Drivers can apply for their licence provided their condition has stabilised and their doctor agrees.
Driving safely is an important part of good diabetes care. Some simple driving tips can help you manage this challenge. You are never alone when you drive, other drivers and passengers in your car are counting on you to drive safely and take good care of your diabetes.
- Check your blood sugar before you get behind the wheel and every two hours on long trips.
- Carry 15-gms fast-acting sugar snack in case of a low blood sugar problem.
- Pull over immediately if you have any signs or symptoms of low blood sugar.
- Treat your low blood sugar right away and wait 15 minutes before you check your blood sugar before driving. If your blood sugar is still low, treat and wait again.
- Get regular eye exams to ensure you are a safe driver with good vision.
- Drink and drive.
- Drive if you are ill, under stress or very upset.
- Continue driving if you have a sudden low blood sugar problem while driving. (Speak to your doctor right away).
- Drive after you treat for a low blood sugar problem until your blood sugar is at or near normal again.
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