Driving and diabetes

What your responsibilities are if you drive and have diabetes

August, 2017

Tags

Do I need to tell the DVLA that I have diabetes?

If you drive a car, this should help you work out what, if anything, you need to tell the DVLA about. If you drive a bus or lorry (Group 2 licences), visit the DVLA directly for advice specifically for you.

Do you take insulin?

Have you had more than one severe episode of hypoglycaemia (a hypo) in the last 12 months?A severe hypo is when you have had severe low blood glucose and needed help from another person. Symptoms include shaking, sweating, hunger, fast pulse, palpitations, anxiety and tingling lips. If not treated in time, symptoms may include slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, confusion, or appearing to act "drunk"

Has your medical team said you are at risk of a severe hypo?

Have you developed hypoglycaemic unawareness?Hypoglycaemic unawareness is when you get less able to recognise when your blood glucose is becoming too low

Do you get severe hypos when driving?A severe hypo is when you have had severe low blood glucose and needed help from another person. Symptoms include shaking, sweating, hunger, fast pulse, palpitations, anxiety and tingling lips. If not treated in time, symptoms may include slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, confusion, or appearing to act "drunk"

Do you need laser eye treatment in both eyes?(or in the working eye if you have sight in one eye only)

Are you able to read a car number plate in good daylight from 20 metres away?(with glasses on or contacts in if you need them)

Do you have visual acuity of at least 6/12 (0.5 decimal)?Visual acuity describes how well you see detail with your central vision. This is usually measured using a special chart with rows of letters that start with one big one at the top and get smaller row by row. A score on the test is given for each eye, such as having 6/6 vision.
For driving, the government says a person needs to be able to read the third line up from the bottom of the chart with just their eyes, or with glasses or contacts – so at least 6/12 vision (also sometimes written as 0.5.)
(with glasses on or contacts in if you need them)

Do you have problems with circulation or feeling in your legs or feet that mean you have to drive a certain type of vehicle?(eg. an automatic, or one with a hand-operated accelerator)

Have you got a medical condition that's getting worse, or developed any medical condition that might affect your ability to drive safely?

You do not need to inform the DVLA

You need to inform the DVLA

When it comes to Type 2 diabetes and driving, put safety first

It can be a bit of a pain to have to check regularly whether you’re okay to carry on driving, but bear in mind that these laws are designed not only to keep YOU safe, but other road users too.
The main thing if you have diabetes and want to drive, is to keep an eye on your blood glucose level. If it’s 4mmol/L or less, don’t drive. Very low blood glucose can start to make you unsafe behind the wheel: physical symptoms of a hypo can make you shaky and sweaty, and less able to control the car; mental symptoms of a hypo can make you confused and less able to make good decisions or react quickly.

Low blood glucose is more likely to affect you if you have Type 1 diabetes, if you take insulin, or if you take certain medications that lower your blood glucose: these include sulphonylureas and glinides. However, that doesn’t mean that if you have Type 2 diabetes you are totally immune from hypos.

Diabetes UK says that many of the accidents caused by hypoglycaemia are because drivers have continued to drive, ignoring their hypo warning signs (e.g. hunger, sweating, feeling faint). If you have a hypo whilst driving:

  • Stop the vehicle as soon as possible
  • Switch off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition and move from the driver’s seat
  • Take some fast-acting carbohydrate, such as glucose tablets or sweets, and some form of longer-acting carbohydrate
  • Do not start driving until 45 minutes after blood glucose has returned to normal