Diabetes Discrimination or Cautious Driving?

Through the post today I received a letter that I had a feeling might be due - it was my driving renewal form. Although I've been driving for 8 years and have had diabetes the whole time, every couple of years I receive the same letter asking me to renew my drivers license. I've never had so much as one hypo behind the wheel when I'm driving in that whole time. So I ask is is discriminatory towards people who have diabetes to keep making us renew our licenses? Or is it the DVLA creating cautious drivers?

Every time I have to renew my license the forms to fill in get more and more detailed and this year is the most comprehensive that I've seen it. I had two fill out 6 pages of questions ranging from the basics on your name and date of birth. To details about your GP care, your hospital care and the state of your diabetes. It asked about when my last clinic appointment was and how I administer my insulin. I understand all of these are just normal questions, but what did bother me was that the forms asked if I'd ever had a hypo? But this was all that was asked- not how often I'd had them or whether it was when I was driving, and this creates the fear that my license renewal will not be granted.

Once the form is filled out you have to send away your plastic drivers license for the DVLA to assess whether your safe to be on the road driving. Or whether your diabetes effects you to such an extent that you should be taken off the road. This is mostly only the case for people with Type 1 diabetes, those with type 2 do not have to renew their license at all unless they have more than two hypoglycaemic episodes in one year. When you have a hypo it can often effect your mental functionality for a short period of time leaving you feeling disorientated and out of sorts until blood sugars go back up. Which is a very dangerous situation to be in for both yourself and other drivers on the road.

Diabetes UK have some good tips for driving and managing your diabetes...

  • Avoid delaying or missing meals and snacks
  • Take breaks every 2 hours long journeys
  • Always keep hypo treatments to hand in the car
  • Do not drink alcohol and drive
  • Many of the accidents caused by hypoglycaemia are because drivers have continued to drive, ignoring their hypo warning signs (e.g hunger, sweating, feeling faint). If you have a hypo whilst driving:
  • Stop the vehicle as soon as possible
  • Switch off the engine, remove the keys from the ignition and move from the driver’s seat
  • Take some fast-acting carbohydrate, such as glucose tablets or sweets, and some form of longer-acting carbohydrate.
  • Do not start driving until 45 minutes after blood glucose has returned normal.

People with diabetes know that sometimes having the condition can make life a little more complicated than it would otherwise be. But safe is always better than sorry and the DVLA certainly seem to advocate diabetes safety over diabetes discrimination. So I'll be keeping everything crossed that my license is returned to me to be safely back on the road.


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My blog takes you through a daily look at sport, diabetes and everything in between. As an athlete that lives with type 1 diabetes I want to let you into news, views and all that is important to both of my passions.

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