Having diabetes is not an issue for driving but if you are put on insulin either as injections or pump for longer than three months you must inform the National Driver Licence Service.
Pregnancy itself will require additional care with driving which is not covered here.
When you commence insulin therapy you are advised to take the following precautions:
• You must always carry your glucose meter and blood glucose strips with you. You must check your blood glucose before the first journey and every two hours whilst you are driving.
• In each case if your blood glucose is 5.0mmol/l or less, take a snack. If it is less than 4.0mmol/l or you feel hypoglycaemic, do not drive and take appropriate action to correct glucose level.
• If hypoglycaemia develops while driving, stop the vehicle as soon as possible.
• You must switch off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition and move from the driver’s seat.
• You must not start driving until 45 minutes after blood glucose has returned to normal. It takes up to 45 minutes for the brain to recover fully.
• Always keep an emergency supply of fast-acting carbohydrate such as glucose tablets, lucozade or sweets within easy reach in the vehicle.
• You should carry personal identification to show that you have diabetes in case of injury in a road traffic accident.
• Particular care should be taken during changes of insulin regimens and as the pregnancy progresses.
• You must take regular meals, snacks and rest periods on long journeys. Always avoid alcohol.
Hypoglycaemia (also known as a hypo) is the medical term for a low blood glucose (sugar) level. Severe hypoglycaemia means that the assistance of another person is required. The risk of hypoglycaemia is the main danger to safe driving and this risk increases the longer you are on insulin treatment. This may endanger your own life as well as that of other road users. Accidents caused by hypoglycaemia are because drivers carry on driving even though they get warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia occurring. If you get warning symptoms of hypoglycaemia whilst driving, you must always stop as soon as safely possible – do not ignore the warning symptoms.
Early Symptoms of Hypoglycaemia include:
• Sweating, shakiness or trembling, feeling hungry, fast pulse or palpitations, anxiety, tingling lips. If you do not treat this it may result in more severe symptoms such as:
• Slurred speech, difficulty concentrating, confusion, disorderly or irrational behaviour, which may be mistaken for drunkenness. If left untreated this may lead to loss of consciousness.
Please note: The above is taken from Driving Guidelines for people with Diabetes – source: Medical guidelines “Sláinte agus Tiomáint; Medical Fitness to Drive Guidelines (PDF)”. Read Full report here.
Overview booklet available here.