For many people around the world, driving is a big part of life. Of course, those with diabetes can drive safely, but there’re some things they should pay attention to when they are behind the wheel. If they decide to drive with this chronic disease, they have to be responsible.
Here is how to drive safely.
If one takes insulin or other medications like meglitinides or sulfonylureas, their blood sugar may drop. This can cause hypoglycemia which can make it very difficult for a person to concentrate on their driving.
Also, they may not be able to react fast enough to the things around them. In some severe cases, they might experience vision loss, and they could pass out.
To know what exact medications can drop blood sugar to a dangerous level, they should consult with their pharmacist or doctor. It is important that they always keep their blood sugar in check.
After all, high blood sugar can affect their driving, even if it is not that common. So, they should consult with their doctor about any of the changes they experience while on the road.
After some time, diabetes might cause numerous problems in their health, which may affect their driving skills. Nerve damage is one of them. It can affect the feet and legs and will make it harder for them to feel the car pedals.
Other than nerve damage, this disease can affect vision. Since it can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, it can cause cataracts.
One of the largest research on safe driving with this condition, in 2003, was issued by the University of Virginia.
At diabetes specialty clinics in 4 European cities and 7 US cities, around 1,000 volunteers with type 2, type 1 diabetes, and without the disease agreed to participate in an anonymous questionnaire.
The questionnaire was focused on how the condition affects driving. The results proved that drivers with type 2 had far fewer moving violations and crashes than drivers with type 1.
Even the drivers who were on insulin and had type 2 diabetes had fewer traffic violations.
These records show that insulin doesn’t affect the ability to drive, but low blood sugar does. In fact, most of the accidents were related to low blood sugar or hypoglycemic episodes. Also, people who used an insulin pump were less likely to crash than the people who injected insulin.
Less than 50% of the volunteers with either type of the disease had consulted with their doctor about driving. The scientists found that failing to check the blood sugar level before driving can result in more accidents.
That is why they want to encourage people to talk to their doctor about hypoglycemia and driving.
It is important that people take good care of their condition, especially if they want to drive for an extended period. Here are some tips that can help them stay safe while driving.
They should always check blood sugar before they drive. This way, they will make sure that it is at least 80 mg/dL. If the levels are lower than that, they should eat a snack that has 15g of carbohydrates. To make sure that their blood sugar is stable again, they should wait 15 min after their snack and check again.
If they plan on going on a vacation, we suggest carrying a meter with them. This way, they can check their blood glucose along the way. But, they shouldn’t be careful not to leave the meter in the car when they are not driving, since extreme cold or heat can damage it.
It’s really important for people with this metabolic condition to get their eyes checked regularly. Having frequent eye appointments is simply a must for them.
They should carry snacks with them at all times. It’s good to have fast-acting carbohydrates with them in case their blood glucose drops too low. They can have regular soda, snack bars, juice boxes, gel, or tablets at hand, just in case.
In case of emergency, it is important that they always carry their medical ID so that rescuers will know that they have a chronic disease.
If their blood sugar drops too low and they are already on the road, these are the warning signs they might feel. If they feel any of them, it is important that they pull over.
If their blood sugar is too low, they should eat a snack. They should keep it stable so that they will drive safely. Don’t drive until blood glucose is in the normal range.