Diabetes and Driving
Living with diabetes can be a constant challenge. Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with diabetes or have been living with the disease for quite some time, it probably seems like there is no aspect of your life it doesn’t touch. The daily task of driving is no exception.
Most adults must drive. It is essential for getting to and from work, picking up children from school and other activities, and even just picking up the groceries each week. Until diabetes became a part of your life, driving may have been a freedom you never had to think twice about. Now, though, learning to keep your diabetes under control while driving is another responsibility to add to your already full plate.
Diabetes is a disease that has the potential to leave its victims with feelings of dizziness, sleepiness, blurred vision, confusion, loss of consciousness, and even seizures with little or no warning. Because of this, some diabetes sufferers have lost their license to drive.
While the symptoms of diabetes can put drivers in circumstances where it may be difficult to concentrate and make sound driving decisions, the situation is far from hopeless. There are plenty of things you can do to control your diabetes, and keep yourself, and other drivers, safe out on the road.
- Above all, pay attention to your body. Normally your body will give you signs and warnings to let you know when your blood sugar is not at the level it should be. Take note of these signs, and act on them immediately.
- If you are experiencing signs of low blood sugar, do not drive. If you are already driving when you notice warning signs, find a safe place to pull over.
- Always make sure you carry your testing supplies with you. Some people with diabetes need to check their blood sugar more often than others, before driving or even while driving if they will be on the road for a prolonged period of time. Talk with your healthcare provider about how often you should check your blood glucose levels.
- Be sure you always have plenty of snacks, juice or glucose tablets in the car with you in case of an emergency. Keep these supplies in a place where you know you will not forget them. Sometimes blood glucose levels can drop rapidly, and you may not have time to stop and purchase a snack in time.
- If your blood glucose levels are not on target, treat yourself before you drive. If you are experiencing symptoms of low blood sugar, check your glucose levels. If needed, drink some juice, eat a snack or take a glucose tablet. Check your levels again. Treat again, as needed. Only once your blood glucose levels are normal again should you get behind the wheel to drive. When you arrive at your destination, be sure to eat a meal.
- Don’t delay in treating symptoms of low or high blood sugar levels. Your brain can become confused and unable to function properly, leaving your judgment and decision-making skills at risk.
- Eat regularly. Don’t allow too much time to pass between meals. This will help keep your blood sugar levels normal.
While it is true that more risk than usual is involved for drivers with diabetes, this does not mean that such drivers should be labeled as unsafe or unfit to drive. The U.S. Supreme Court stated in the 1971 Bell vs. Burson case that driving is an “important interest”, and since then, many cases have been fought and won for drivers with diabetes to retain their right to drive. This “important interest” is one that should be protected for all citizens, including those living with diabetes.
If you have legal questions regarding your license, or are in need of legal representation in order to maintain your license, please call us today.
For more information on driving safely with diabetes, please visit the following websites:
U.S. Department of Transportation http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/olddrive/Diabetes/
Diabetes Sisters http://www.diabetessisters.org/from-the-experts.../diabetes-a-the-law/763-diabetes-a-driving-february