Diabetic drivers need more support: TRL

12.00 | 27 October 2014 |

Health care professionals could do more to help people with diabetes understand their risks and responsibilities when driving, according to a new report by TRL.

This report evaluates the evidence relating to hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) for people with Type 2 Diabetes who drive, and makes recommendations as to how these drivers can be best supported.

TRL estimates there are around 575,000 active driving licences for people treated with diabetes. Around 13% of these are Group 2 drivers, typically of lorries and/or buses, who are likely to have their licence revoked after one severe hypoglycaemic event. For Group 2 drivers (cars, light vans and/or motorcycles) licence revocation usually follows two such events.

However, the onus for safe driving remains with the individual, who is responsible for managing their condition irrespective of the extent of education they have had about hypoglycaemia. The report says that “coupled with demands they may face when driving for work purposes, which can include long distances and hours, and a threat to their livelihood if their licence is revoked, it is unsurprising more people do not seek help”.

Professor Andrew Parkes, chief scientist and research director at TRL, said: “Health care professionals could do more to help drivers with diabetes understand their risks and responsibilities when driving. 

“We know that drivers with diabetes are not sufficiently aware of the need to speak to their doctor to check that their diabetes medication is suitable for someone who drives. It is a problem of treatment regimes, rather than the diabetes itself, that leads to hypos and accident risk.”

The report says the DVLA, as a trusted source of information, should provide “clear and simple guidance” on its website advising drivers of ways to prevent hypoglycaemia. It also calls for ambulance services to collect data about hypoglycaemia in a consistent format so that the “hidden risk can be compared across regions”.


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