Diabetes and Driving

In Frankfort, Illinois, a 9-year-old girl came to rescue of her mom with diabetes—who was driving their Volkswagon Beetle when she started feeling faint­ and careened through a red light and jumped the curb on the other side. A New Jersey man is suing after state troopers—believing he was intoxicated and uncooperative when they found him slumped over in his car on the side of the highway—tried to arrest him, and his right wrist (he was wearing a bracelet that identified him as diabetic) was broken in the scuffle.” 

 “This underscores the importance of diabetes education aimed at the prevention of hypoglycemia, particularly while driving,” said Dr. Lauren Golden, an adult diabetes specialist at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center, which serves 11,000 adults and children yearly, most from greater New York. “People with diabetes, on glucose lowering therapies (including insulin), should always check their blood sugars before getting behind the wheel.  This allows for appropriate treatment of blood sugars, if needed, before driving a car. This is important for the safety of all—people with diabetes, their families, and others on the road.”

Dr. Golden emphasized that the risk of an accident can be reduced if people with diabetes know their blood sugar levels before getting behind the wheel of a car and treat the blood sugar appropriately. It is important to recognize the signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, if they were to happen, especially while driving (confusion, delayed reaction and visual disturbances) and pull off to the side of the road and stop driving to treat the low blood sugar.  Treatment of hypoglycemia is best done with a very rapidly acting sugar—like glucose tablets, juice, or cake icing, or cake icing on the gums if the patient can’t swallow.  Still, added Dr. Golden, “It is always better to prevent a low blood sugar, or to treat a low blood sugar before driving, than to drive with a low blood sugar requiring treatment.”