Driving with Diabetes: What You Need To Know

Most of us drive every day. The fact is that many towns and cities do not have good public transportation options. Therefore, we drive everywhere. We drive to work. We drive our family to school, practices, and parties.

Since driving is such an important part of many people’s lives, you may be worried about how diabetes will affect your ability to drive.

The good news is that you can drive with diabetes but you must take some safety measures to make sure you are driving safely. Here is what you need to know about driving with diabetes. 

How Does Diabetes Affect Driving?

Diabetes affects your body in many different ways. It can cause seizures, hypoglycemia, foot problems and vision problems. You may experience none or some of these symptoms.

It will depend on the severity of your diabetes and how well it is being treated. Obviously, if you experience problems seeing or lose feeling in your feet, then you cannot safely drive, especially at high speeds.

You may also feel unsafe driving if you regularly experience seizures. Each case is unique and your ability to drive will be based on your symptoms and what medication you take to control your diabetes.

Those who take insulin to treat their diabetes face more difficulties in getting their licenses in some states.

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Can People Drive With Diabetes?

Yes! It is a myth that people with diabetes cannot drive. However, the process of obtaining and keeping your license will vary depending on where you live.

Some states will ask you to disclose if you have diabetes while others will only ask if you have experienced seizures or other illnesses that could impair your ability to drive.

If you answer positively to these questions, you may have to pass a medical test in addition to the standard vision test. (Almost all states conduct a vision test for everyone, so keep that in mind if your diabetes affects your eyesight.)

Many states will not allow those with diabetes to drive large vehicles like trucks and buses, and driving freight trucks across state lines are dealt with under federal law.

Driving Safely

Fortunately, not all diabetic patients experience negative symptoms, but they do risk having hypoglycemia. The symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, dizziness, fatigue, pale skin, anxiety, hunger, and irritability.

If hypoglycemia remains untreated, then you may experience confusion, blurred vision, seizures or even loss of consciousness.

Some diabetic patients have hypoglycemia unawareness, which means they do not feel the signs of low blood sugar until it is severe. These diabetics need to be especially careful when driving and check their blood sugar often.

The most important thing to do before driving is to check your blood sugar. If your blood sugar is too low (below 80 mg/dL), then eat or drink something with 15 grams of carbs. Test your blood sugar again in 15 minutes. Do not get behind the wheel until your blood sugar is in a normal range!

It is also important to keep snacks and glucose tabs at easy reach in your car. These can keep your blood sugar in check quickly and safely.

You never know when hypoglycemia may hit and you may not have the option of stopping at a store or gas station for juice or candy.

If you are going to be driving for long periods of time, test your blood sugar every 2-4 hours to make sure you are still in a normal range.

What To Do In Case Of An Emergency

Despite all of your precautions, you may start to feel hypoglycemic while you drive. If you think your blood sugar is dipping, pull over immediately.

Test your blood sugar and then eat a snack if you need to. Wait until your blood sugar is safely back in range before you head back out. Remember, untreated hypoglycemia can cause very serious consequences.

Do not worry about being overly cautious. Your safety and the safety of others on the road is your top priority. If you have a friend or family member who can drive, ask them to take over until you feel well again.  

Driving while diabetic requires some extra precautions, but it still remains a safe way to travel. The incidence of accidents with diabetics is only slightly higher than people without diabetes.


If you have severe physical problems from diabetes, like poor vision and neuropathy, driving may not be possible.

However, if you are still healthy besides diabetes, then there is no reason you cannot drive. Just make sure you are always prepared.

Check your blood sugar regularly and keep snacks and glucose tabs on you at all times. Always keep your medication, identification and any medical information with you as well. As long as you stay prepared, you should have no problem driving safely and living your normal life.

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  1. http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2012/apr/the-laws-on-driving-with-diabetes.html
  2. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/know-your-rights/discrimination/drivers-licenses/drivers-license-laws-by-state.html
  3. http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/PDFs/Advocacy/Discrimination/ps-diabetes-and-driving.pdf

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