Given it’s World Diabetes Day today (Monday 14 November), what better time to highlight the potential effects of diabetes mellitus on one aspect of daily life so many people take for granted: driving.
Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a chronic disease linked to high levels of glucose in the blood. Statistics show that the number of people with diabetes is increasing every year. The effects on living with diabetes day to day are well known, but what’s not so well known is how diabetes can also affect your driving.
How diabetes affects your driving
Millions of people with diabetes live full and busy lives. For many, being able to drive plays an important part in that. However, if you have diabetes, there is a risk of developing hypoglycaemia and ‘severe hypoglycaemia’ (a diabetic emergency that will affect your fitness to drive).
Hypoglycaemic episodes can be very sudden events, with symptoms ranging from feeling nauseous to a loss of concentration, and potentially loss of consciousness. An episode of severe hypoglycaemia means you’ll need assistance from another person. This is why it’s so important that you keep your diabetes under control.
Diabetes can be treated with insulin, tablets and/or diet control – it all depends on the individual. The treatment aims to control your blood glucose levels, and attempt to avoid the extremes of hyper and hypoglycaemia.
Check whether you need to tell DVLA that you have diabetes
If you’re keeping your diabetes under control with diet only, then you do not need to tell DVLA. However, if you're taking medication to control your diabetes, the following applies:
- if your diabetes is treated by insulin, you must tell DVLA
- if your diabetes is treated by tablets and you're a bus or lorry licence holder (Group 2), you must tell DVLA
- if your diabetes is treated by tablets and you're a car or motorcycle licence holder (Group 1), some tablets may cause hypoglycaemia so you need to ask your GP or healthcare professional about your medication
So to summarise, it’s a legal requirement to tell DVLA if you have a medical condition that could affect your driving. Of course, telling us does not necessarily mean you’ll lose your licence. In fact, in the last 2 years, 9 out of 10 car and motorcycle driving licence holders who told us they had diabetes kept their driving licence.
For more information
Ask your GP or healthcare professional or go to our diabetes guidance on GOV.UK where you can, depending on your condition, tell DVLA about your diabetes online.