For many people around the world, driving is a big part of life. Of course, diabetics can drive safely, but there’re some things they should pay attention to when they are behind the wheel. If you decide to drive with type 1 diabetes, you have to be responsible.
Here is how you can drive safely with diabetes.
If you take diabetes insulin or other diabetes medications like meglitinides or sulfonylureas, your blood sugar may drop. This can cause hypoglycemia which can make it very difficult for you to concentrate on your driving.
Also, you may not be able to react fast enough to the things around you. In some severe cases, you might experience vision loss, and you could pass out.
If you want to know which exact medications can drop your blood sugar to a dangerous level, consult with your pharmacist or doctor. It is important that you always keep your blood sugar in check.
After all, high blood sugar can affect your driving, even if it is not that common. So, consult with your doctor about any of the changes you experience while on the road.
After some time, diabetes can cause countless problems for your health, which may affect your driving skills. Nerve damage is one of them. It can affect the feet and legs and will make it harder for you to feel the car pedals.
Other than nerve damage, diabetes can affect your vision. Since it can damage the blood vessels in the eyes, this metabolic condition can cause cataracts.
One of the largest research on safe driving with diabetes, 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 diabetes agreed to participate in an anonymous questionnaire.
The questionnaire was focused on how diabetes affects driving. The results proved that drivers with type 2 diabetes had far less moving violations and crashes than drivers with type 1 diabetes.
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 diabetes 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 type 1 diabetes, hypoglycemia, and driving.
It is important that you take good care of your condition, especially if you want to drive for an extended period. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe while driving.
Always check your blood sugar before you drive. This way, you will make sure that it is at least 80 mg/dL. If the levels are lower than that, eat a snack that has 15g of carbohydrates. To make sure that your blood sugar is stable again, wait 15 min after your snack and check again.
If you plan on going on a vacation, we suggest you carry your meter with you. This way, you can check your blood glucose along the way. But, make sure not to leave the meter in the car when you are not driving since extreme cold or heat can damage it.
Get your eyes checked regularly. Having frequent eye appointments is crucial when you have diabetes.
Carry snacks with you at all times. Make sure that they have fast-acting carbohydrates in case your blood glucose drops too low. Have a regular soda, snack bars, juice boxes, gel, or tablets at hand, just in case.
In case of emergency, it is important that you always carry your medical ID so that rescuers will know that you have diabetes.
If your blood sugar drops too low and you are already on the road, these are the warning signs you might feel. If you feel any of them, it is important that you pull over.
If your blood sugar is too low, eat a snack. Make sure that you keep it stable so that you will drive safely. Don’t drive until your blood glucose is in the normal range.