Driving with type 1 diabetes can be a tricky task. In a large study on “Diabetes and Driving Mishaps,” drivers with type 1 had more crashes and moving violations due to hypos than those with type 2. In fact, when driving with low blood sugar, you can come across as being drunk. Be prepared and take all the necessary precautions before you get on the road.
- Check your blood sugar before driving. Always check your blood glucose before getting in the car. Make sure your cell phone is charged and that you have all the supplies you need. Keep your health insurance card with you, and a doctor’s note while travelling.
- Make a game plan. Come up with a plan with your parents or other family members before you get on the road. Plan to let them know when you will be home and if anything changes. Make a plan for action steps to take in case you have a low.
- Keep supplies handy. Keep extra snacks, water, testing supplies, insulin, and glucose in your car while driving.
- Enlist the help of friends. Make sure that a few trusted friends know what a hypo looks like and know how to help if one should occur. Use an app that can alert loved ones to blood sugar lows.
- Use a window decal. Display a “Diabetic Driver” window decal. This small, simple indicator can be placed in the upper left corner of your rear window. This way, police officers will know for sure that erratic driving might be due to a medical issue and not intoxication.
- Wear a diabetes bracelet. Be sure to wear a medical ID bracelet so emergency responders will know you have diabetes if you cannot tell them yourself.
- Pull over when you need to. If you start to feel bad, pull over and check your blood sugar levels. Treat yourself if needed, then wait 15 minutes and check your levels again before driving.
- Stop every two hours. Stop at least every two hours to check your blood sugar and move around.
- Store insulin properly. Never leave your insulin in the car, as it might get too hot and go bad.
- Stay sober. Avoid drinking alcohol. The effects of alcohol on your your blood sugar levels can last up to 24 hours, so be aware, and talk with your doctor about whether drinking is safe at all.
You may want to consider using a continuous glucose monitor with an insulin pump instead of using insulin injections alone. This method is safer and more accurate, especially if you will be driving long distances. Talk with your doctor about your options if insurance won’t cover it.
Taking precautions does not mean that you can’t drive with type 1 diabetes. Be prepared and driving should go smoothly.