Diabetes and Driving – U.S. Department of Transportation – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA

Diabetes and Driving – U.S. Department of Transportation – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA

Driving when you have diabetes
? For most people, driving represents freedom, control and competence.
Driving enables most people to get to the places they want or need to go.
For many people, driving is important economically – some drive as part of
their job or to get to and from work.
? Driving is a complex skill. Our ability to drive safely can be affected by
changes in our physical, emotional and mental condition. This brochure is
designed to give you the information you need to talk to your health care
team about driving and diabetes.
How can having diabetes affect
my driving?
? In the short term, diabetes can make your blood glucose (sugar) levels too
high or too low. As a result, diabetes can make you:
? Feel sleepy or dizzy
? Feel confused
? Have blurred vision
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? Lose consciousness or have a seizure
? In the long run, diabetes can lead to problems that affect driving. Diabetes
may cause nerve damage in your hands, legs and feet, or eyes. In some
cases, diabetes can cause blindness or lead to amputation.
Can I still drive with diabetes?
? Yes, people with diabetes are able to drive unless they are limited by
certain complications of diabetes. These include severe low blood glucose
levels or vision problems. If you are experiencing diabetes-related
complications, you should work closely with your diabetes health care
team to find out if diabetes affects your ability to drive. If it does, discuss if
there are actions you can take to continue to drive safely.
What can I do to ensure that I can
drive safely with diabetes?
? Insulin and some oral medications can cause blood glucose levels to
become dangerously low (hypoglycemia). Do not drive if your blood
glucose level is too low. If you do, you might not be able to make good
choices, focus on your driving or control your car. Your health care team
can help you determine when you should check your blood glucose level
before driving and how often you should check while driving.
? Make sure you always carry your blood glucose meter and plenty of snacks
(including a quick-acting source of glucose) with you. Pull over as soon as
you feel any of the signs of a low blood glucose level. Check your blood
glucose.
? If your glucose level is low, eat a snack that contains a fast-acting sugar
such as juice, soda with sugar (not diet), hard candy, or glucose tablets.
Wait 15 minutes, and then check your blood glucose again. Treat again as
needed. Once your glucose level has risen to your target range, eat a more
substantial snack or meal containing protein. Do not continue driving until
your blood glucose level has improved.
? Most people with diabetes experience warning signs of a low blood glucose
level. However, if you experience hypoglycemia without advance warning,
you should not drive. Talk to your health care team about how glycemic
awareness training might help you sense the beginning stages of
hypoglycemia.
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? In extreme situations, high blood glucose levels (hyperglycemia) also may
affect driving. Talk to your health care team if you have a history of very
high glucose levels to determine at what point such levels might affect your
ability to be a safe driver.
? The key to preventing diabetes-related eye problems is good control of
blood glucose levels, good blood pressure control and good eye care. A
yearly exam with an eye care professional is essential.
? If you are experiencing long-term complications of diabetes such as vision
or sensation problems, or if you have had an amputation, your diabetes
health care team can refer you to a driving specialist. This specialist can
give you on and off-road tests to see if, and how, your diabetes is affecting
your driving. The specialist also may offer training to improve your driving
skills.
? Improving your driving skills could help keep you and others around you
safe. To find a specialist near you, call the Assoc-iation of Driver
Rehabilitation Specialists at 1-800-290-2344 or go to their website at
www.aded.net. You also can call hospitals and rehabilitation facilities to
find an occupational therapist who can help with the driving skills
assessment.
What if I have to cut back or
give up driving?
? You can keep your independence even if you have to cut back or give up
on your driving. It may take planning ahead on your part, but planning will
help get you to the places you need to go and to the people you want to see.
Consider:
? rides with family and friends;
? taxi cabs;
? shuttle buses or vans;
? public buses, trains and subways; and
? walking.
? Also, senior centers and religious and other local service groups often offer
transportation services for older adults in your community.
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Who can I call for help
with transportation?
Call the ElderCare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 and ask for the phone
number of your local Office on Aging, or go to their website at
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?Link=http://www.eldercare.gov.
Contact your regional transit authority to find out which bus or train to
take.
Call Easter Seals Project ACTION (Accessible Community Transportation In
Our Nation) at 1-800-659-6428 or go to their website
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?Link=http://www.projectaction.org.
Where do I find out more
about diabetes?
? Your first step is to talk with your diabetes health care team. You also can
contact the:
American Diabetes Association
1-800-342-2383
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?Link=http://www.diabetes.org
National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse
1-800-860-8747
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?
Link=http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov
Healthfinder
http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?Link=http://www.healthfinder.gov
? You also can get a copy of the “Age Page On Older Drivers” from the
National Institute on Aging by calling 1-800-222-2225, or by going to their
website at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/exit.cfm?
Link=http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/agepages/drivers.htm.
Wear your safety belt
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? Always wear your safety belt when you are driving or riding in a car. Make
sure that every person who is riding with you also is buckled up. Wear your
safety belt even if your car has air bags.
Top NHTSA Home
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