Posted on June 22, 2016

Diabetes should not prevent people from driving, however, in certain situations diabetics should try and avoid driving and be aware of the hazards that could occur.

“One of the most hazardous situations for diabetics is the possibility of a big drop in their blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) when driving. It is therefore important to know the risks and how to overcome them,” explained Ms. Lal Malak Derzad, Diabetes Patient Educator at Hamad Medical Corporation. “People should be cautious if they are on insulin or taking medicines such as sulfonylureas, which causes hypoglycemia. It is also very important for people to be very cautious if they have previously suffered from high or unstable blood glucose level,” Ms. Derzad said.

People should not drive in the following cases:

  • If they are struggling with the signs of dropping blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia).
  • If they have visual problems, which cannot be corrected with glasses.
  • If they experience numbing or weakness in the hands and feet.

If you feel you have the symptoms of low glucose level during driving, take the following steps:

  • Stop the car and move to the passenger seat.
  • Have a drink containing sugar (juice) or sugar cubes, or a sweet to treat hypoglycemia.
  • Check your blood glucose levels after 10 to 15 minutes. If the level increases up to 4mmol/liter you should consume a light meal which includes carbohydrates. If your blood glucose levels do not increase, take another 15 grams of sugar before re-testing.
  • Call one of your family members or friends to take you home.
  • Do not drive until your blood glucose level is back to normal. You are likely to need at least 45 minutes to one hour before this happens.
  • Be aware that high blood glucose levels cause fatigue and weakness – which can adversely affect your driving.
  • Avoid driving when your blood glucose levels are high or unstable.

Also remember the following:

  • Make sure you are able to identify high/low blood glucose warning signs or the pre-hypoglycemia signs. Take your doctor’s advice for further information on the symptoms of hypoglycemia.
  • Check your blood glucose levels before driving. If you drive for long distances, check these every two hours.
  • Take the advice of your doctor on normal levels of blood glucose.
  • Always keep a source of sugar or fast absorbing carbohydrates such as jelly beans or orange juice close by, as well as a source of starches, or slow releasing carbohydrates such as toast. It is also important to keep your blood glucose monitor and the relevant strips in the car. 
  • Do not miss a main or light meal.
  • Remember that changing a car’s tire or carrying out any other physical exertion may cause hypoglycemia. Be prepared for that by consuming a light meal in advance.
  • Always keep an identification card in your car and pocket showing that you are diabetic. Ensure that the medications you take are clearly listed.