Driving & Diabetes
For most people with diabetes, driving isn’t a problem, and they can hold a driving licence and carry on driving. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about diabetes and driving.
“As someone with diabetes, it’s really important that I’m aware of the rules around driving in the UK”
Why iVMS Diabetic Patches?
Make more informed decisions before and while driving:
- The iVMS diabetic patch system automatically tracks your glucose levels day and night using a small sensor worn on the back of the upper arm and an iVMS app that alerts & lets you view your glucose levels at any time.
- Unlike a blood glucose monitor, which only gives you a current glucose reading, iVMS diabetic patch shows additional insights into where your glucose level was, currently is, and where it’s headed.
How diabetes can affect driving
There are two main things about diabetes that can affect your ability to drive safely:
- If how you treat your diabetes means you’re at risk of having a hypo (where your blood sugar drops below 4mmol/l).
- If you develop diabetes complications that make it harder for you to drive – like problems with your eyes (retinopathy) or nerve damage (neuropathy).
If these things affect you, you need to know what the rules are and what you need to tell your local driver and licensing authority.
The rules are different depending on what vehicle you want to drive. Here we’ll talk mainly about what you need to know if you want to drive a car or motorbike (called a Group 1 licence).
To drive a lorry or larger vehicle, you’ll need a Group 2 licence. There are different rules for this type of licence and they can be more complicated when you are driving with diabetes.
These rules come from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in England, Scotland and Wales, and the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. We use DVLA throughout this information, to make things simpler.
And remember, you need to know these rules if these things could affect you in the future if not now.
Your driving checklist if you’re at risk of hypos
Follow this diabetes driving hypo checklist each and every time you drive. It’s how you reduce your risk of a hypo at the wheel. And it’s how you can carry on driving safely.
- Know the symptoms of a hypo – if you’ve lost hypo awareness, you can’t drive.
- Keep spare test strips in the car and bring your meter with you.
- Check your blood sugar levels before you set off and every two hours on long journeys.
- Five to drive – your blood sugars have to be 5mmol/l or above before you drive. If they’re between 4mmol/l and 5mmol/l, eat some carbs before heading out.
- If they’re under 4mmol/l – treat your hypo and check your levels again before driving.
- Always keep hypo treatments where you can easily reach them in the car.
- Take breaks on long journeys.
- Don’t delay meals or snacks.
Remember, the rules are more complicated around diabetes and truck driving or if you want to drive a large vehicle, with a Group 2 licence.
When to check blood sugar levels for driving
If you usually check your blood sugar levels, then you must follow the rules about when to check them. This means checking them within two hours of driving – however short the trip. On longer journeys, you must check them every two hours.
These rules are only about checking for low blood sugar levels – the DVLA don’t have any specific limits on high blood sugar levels.
Speak to your healthcare team if you’re not sure whether you should be checking your blood sugars – it depends what medication you’re on.
If you start having a hypo while driving
It’s the law that you must stop. And it’s what you must do to avoid any risk of an accident. So find somewhere safe to pull in as soon as possible.
- Pull over safely. If you feel like your blood sugar is low then make sure you pull over as soon as possible.
- Switch off the engine. Take the keys out and move from the driver’s seat – if you don’t, the police can think you’re still in charge of the car and you could be prosecuted.
- Take fast-acting carbs, like glucose tablets or sweets, and some longer-acting carbohydrates too, like plain biscuits or crackers.
- Don’t drive until 45 minutes after your blood sugar level has gone back to 5mmol/l or above. This is the time it takes for your concentration to go back to normal.
If you’re struggling with hypos, talk to your healthcare team about whether you should be driving.
You don’t need to let the DVLA know that you’ve had a hypo – only if it’s a severe hypo (where you need help to treat it). Severe hypos are a lot more serious so the rules are more detailed. We have more information about severe hypos if you don’t know what they are.