Living with diabetes: Driving

Updated On Jan 12, 2022

It is advised that you should not drive if…

  • Have had 2 episodes of severe hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) in the past 12 months
  • Have hypoglycemia unawareness (where you have difficulty recognising the early signs of low blood glucose)
  • Have experienced a hypoglycaemia episode whilst driving
  • Have problems with your vision which is not correctable with glasses
  • Have numbness or weakness in your limbs
  • Have taken alcohol or medication that can cause drowsiness

Before driving
1. Check your blood sugar
Before you drive, ensure that your blood sugar is at least 80mg/dl. If it’s less than that, have a carbohydrate-rich snack of 15g. After 15 minutes, double check your blood sugar.

2. Bring snacks
Keep some snacks in your car that include fast-acting carbohydrates in case your blood sugar drops too low. Glucose tablets or gel, regular soda (not diet) and juice boxes or snack bars that will not spoil if left in the car are all good options.

3. Bring your blood glucose meter
It’s possible that you’ll need to monitor your blood sugar along the route. However, don’t keep it in the car when you’re not driving. It can be harmed by extremes of heat or cold.

4. Wear your medical ID
In the case of an emergency, police and rescuers need to be informed that you have diabetes

5. Get your eyes checked
Maintain regular eye appointments to ensure that diabetes isn’t affecting your vision.

6. On the road
When you’re on the road, it’s critical not to let your blood sugar drop too low. Pull over and check your levels if you start to feel:

  • Headache
  • Shaky or jumpy
  • Sweaty
  • Hungry
  • Like you can’t see straight
  • Sleepy
  • Dizzy, lightheaded, or confused
  • Clumsy
  • Irritable or cranky
  • Weak

How to treat low blood sugar when driving?

  • Stop your car at a safe location as soon as possible
  • Turn off the engine, remove the ignition key, and sit in the passenger seat
  • Take 15 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate, such as 3 sweets, glucose tablets, or sugary drinks
  • Repeat your blood sugar check every 15 minutes
  • Take a slow-acting carbohydrate, such as biscuits or cereal bars
  • After your blood sugar has risen above 5 mmol/L, you should not drive for 45 minutes
  • If your blood sugar has not returned to normal after 30 minutes, seek help