According to a report in the Daily Mail – the DVLA are applying European medical standards to a diabetics ability to drive safely in october this year – 2011. This means that around 1 million diabetics could lose their driving licence. The rules mainly apply to insulin-dependant diabetics based on ‘Hypoglycaemia’ a medical episode that occurs when a diabetic has a decreased drop in ‘blood glucose levels’. Symptoms include – trembling, tiredness, sweating, nausea, drowsiness, and disorientation if the blood sugar decline to a very low level.
Most diabetics recognise this decline in blood sugar and act upon the symptoms very quickly. This can be easily treated with a fast acting carboydrate – such as a drink containing sugar, or glucose tablets, followed by a longer acting carbohydrate to keep their blood glucose level within a normal range.
Thousands of diabetics have been driving safely for many years .. . . .
And there is no reported evidence to suggest hypoglycaemia poses a threat to driving safely. In fact – diabetics are more likely to be more astute regarding how they are feeling when driving and stop to test their blood sugar levels .Whereas a non-diabetic driver are more likely to continue driving when they become unwell or are suffering from tiredness.
The new definition to be implemented by the DVLA is also incuding hypoglycaemia during sleeping time to the rule – which is absolutely senseless as there is no significance between night-time and day-time hypos.
For example – many diabetics suffer from hypoglycaemia (hypo’s) during the night simply because monitoring is more difficult, i.e. this is the time when they are not testing their blood glucose level, or eating carboydrates. Even so – most diabetics wake up – test their blood sugar level and eat enough carboyhdrates to regulate their blood glucose level until the morning.
The fact is – is that every diabetic should be treated individually regarding their ability to drive safely
This is because diabetes effects people differently. I.e. Diabetes may be relatively easy to control in one individual but may be extremely difficult for another. For instance -there are a small minority of diabetics that have an extreme drop in glucose levels and need medical assistance – such as an injection of a glucose solution like ‘Glucagon’ that raises the blood glucose levels quickly. Obviously – if a diabetic has a medical history of extreme drops in blood glucose levels – then yes – their ability to drive safely should be rightly questioned.
It would be grossly unfair if the DVLA did impose a blanket ban on all insulin-dependant diabetics for the following reasons:
Not all Insulin-dependant diabetics suffer hypo’s that effect their abilty to function or operate a vehicle safely.
There is no documented evidence to imply that diabetics pose a greater driving risk than non-diabetics.
To impose a blanket driving ban to all insulin-dependant diabetics without careful consideration to the individual’s medical history would be indiscriminatory and a breech of human rights.
On an end note – if it is true – and the DVLA are going to cave in to this EU Directive and impose this blanket ban -purely based on ‘ the threat of diabetics having an hypo’, then are they going to go one step further and scrutinise other drivers? – for example – the thousands of drivers that have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gross obesity – Afterall – are these individuals not under threat of suffering from a heart-atttack or stroke?
Surely – based on these facts – I don’t see how the EU can justify a blanket ban.
IMPORTANT UPDATE . . . .
Read our reassurance email from Diabetes UK HERE