Driving with diabetes Having diabetes should not stop you from enjoying your day-to-day activities, like driving. But there are some things you need to consider to keep you and the people around you safe on the road. Before getting behind the wheel Here are a few things you must do before taking to the road. Make sure you’re fit to drive: You need to provide a medical report to get a driver’s or learner’s licence. Your doctor or diabetes specialist can issue this report stating that a medical examination has been performed and you are fit to drive. Inform the Driver Licensing Authorities: You must inform the Driver Licensing Authorities in your state or territory that you have diabetes. Most people using insulin will require a medical certificate every two years. If you take a tablet for your diabetes, you must present a medical certificate every five years. If you manage your diabetes with diet and exercise alone, you still have to inform the authorities. If you don’t, you can be charged with a range of driving offences if you have an accident behind the wheel. Report to your motor vehicle insurer: Tell your motor vehicle insurer about your diabetes. If you don’t you may have problems with insurance claims. Check closely for hypoglycaemia or hypo (low blood glucose): Hypoglycaemia (or hypo) can affect your ability to drive safely. Make sure that you always have a carbohydrate snack available in your car. If you feel your blood glucose level might be low, pull over immediately and stop your car. Do not restart your car until you have treated your hypo and feel absolutely normal. Monitor your blood glucose level (BGL): Before driving, check that your BGL is 5 mmol/L or more. Always carry your blood glucose meter and check your BGL at least every two hours on long trips. Find out all you need to know about diabetes and driving: Driving a motor vehicle comes with major personal and legal responsibilities and liabilities. The NDSS provides advice on extra precautions you need to take to be safe on the road in their Diabetes and Driving booklet or Diabetes and Driving – A Quick Guide. When not to drive You should not drive when: Your BGL is below 5 mmol/L. You can’t feel the early signs of hypo You’re just starting to take insulin and your BGLs are not yet within your target range. You have diabetes complications that can affect your driving – ask your doctor how impaired vision, nerve damage or heart problems can affect driving. You have numbness or weakness in your limbs. You feel unwell, which can affect your BGLs. You’ve had a severe hypo and needed help from another person. Before driving, ask your doctor to assess and clear you. This can take six weeks or more. Driving long distances Plan your diabetes care if you are going on a long car trip. Here are some tips: See your GP before you leave Ask for a letter about your medical condition/s, medications and supplies. Take many copies. Ask for extra prescriptions if you require them. Ask what you should do if you feel sick. Take extra supplies Bring a spare glucose meter, strips, batteries, lancets, needles, sharps container, ketone strips and sensors (if required). If using an insulin pump, take a blood glucose meter and insulin pen in case the pump stops working. Carry enough medications to cover you for the whole trip. Check if you can buy your medication during your trip. Make sure to keep your insulin cool. Pack carbohydrate snacks. List your emergency contacts, including your healthcare team and insulin company if relevant. Bring your ID indicating you have diabetes, including your NDSS card and medical alert bracelet. Bring a first aid kit to treat minor sickness, as well as a hypo kit with fast- and slow-acting carbohydrates. Advocating for drivers with diabetes Diabetes Australia advocates for fairer and safer guidelines for people with diabetes. Here is what we are up to: Revised ‘Assessing Fitness to Drive’ Guidelines From 1 October 2016, revised and clearer guidelines have helped people with diabetes and their healthcare teams decide if it’s safe to drive. Here are some of the main points of this revision: The old guidelines used your HbA1c (average blood glucose measurement over a three-month period) to decide if you were safe to drive. While this number was only intended as a guide for doctors, many people with diabetes had their driver’s licences suspended because of it. Diabetes Australia advocated for: removing references to HbA1c from the guidelines keeping the guidelines’ emphasis on measuring blood glucose level (BGL) using test strips (or continuous glucose monitoring devices) to check for hypoglycaemia supported the key message for safe driving “Don’t Drive Under Five”, referring to a hypo limit of 5 mmol/L. To find out more about the national guidelines, you can visit Austroads or download the latest version of the guidelines: Assessing fitness to drive for commercial and private vehicle drivers. A new Medical Standard for Licensing We provided a policy response to the inclusion of a new Medical Standard for Licensing. Although there are uniform national ‘Fitness to Drive’ guidelines, all states have their own regulations and requirements to assess people with diabetes who wish to begin or continue driving. The guidelines are there to balance public safety with the interests and needs of people with diabetes. For more Information about driving for work, see diabetes in the workplace.