Risk of Low When Driving

Having low blood sugar while driving can be dangerous and may cause harm to you, your loved ones, and others in your car and on the road. It is important to check your blood sugar before driving and during long drives, and always be prepared to correct low blood sugar.

Research has indicated that some people with diabetes may not accurately judge when blood sugar levels are too low to drive safely and that they would still drive even when their blood sugar level was in a range associated with diminishing driver performance.

Having diabetes should not have to stop you from driving, but it is important to take some extra steps for a safer trip. A little extra planning goes a long way!

Sources:

American Diabetes Association, Lorber D, Anderson J, et al. Diabetes and driving. Diabetes Care. 2014;37 Suppl 1:S97-103. doi: 10.2337/dc14-S097

JAMA Patient Page. Safe driving for people with diabetes. JAMA 1999;282:806.

Test Before You Drive
  • Check your blood sugar level before you get behind the wheel. Make sure it is in a safe range designated by your healthcare professional.
  • If your blood sugar is low, correct it to raise it back within your safe range. Always be prepared with a Dex4 glucose product!
  • If you will be driving for an extended period of time, bring snacks with you so that you do not miss a meal or are able to raise your blood sugar, when necessary.
  • Carry a medical ID that helps make others aware that you have diabetes. In case of an emergency, the ID will let others know that you need treatment and are not intoxicated from drinking alcohol.
Stay Safe While Driving

There are some important steps you can take to prepare for and treat low blood sugar if it happens when you are behind the wheel:

  • Keep fast-acting carbohydrate in your car and any other vehicle you use. Glucose tablets, liquids and gels work well because they are conveniently packaged, premeasured and do not require refrigeration. Do not assume that you will be able to find a glucose product or other source of carbohydrate nearby. You may need it long before you are able to reach a store or rest area.
  • Store your glucose product is a place that is easy to reach, like your glove compartment, never in your trunk. Also, have your blood sugar testing supplies with you when you travel. Be sure that they are in an easy to reach, as well as easy to remember, location. You may not be thinking very clearly in you are experiencing hypoglycemia.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of low blood sugar, pull over quickly as soon as it is safe to do so. Test your blood sugar level and correct it with a fast-acting carbohydrate. If you do not have your blood sugar testing supplies, correct it anyways. Do not drive again until your blood sugar level is in your target safe range, even if it means you will arrive late to your destination.
  • Resume driving after you have corrected your blood sugar and feel well enough to continue.
  • If you will be driving for an extended period of time, have a snack to help keep your blood sugar in your normal range. Try to plan your trips so that you do not miss a meal.

Whenever driving long distances, check your blood sugar periodically. If you do not feel symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia unawareness) you may need to consult with your healthcare professional about how often to check.