Diabetes UK Reassures Drivers Re Proposed EU/DVLA Regulations

Thanks for getting in touch with your enquiry. As you can imagine, we’ve had many people contacting us after reading the article in The Daily Mail on Saturday and we are sorry to hear that you and your husband are worried about the possible consequences of this news.
  • I am going give you lots of information relating to the new EU Directive here as follows . . . .
Firstly, I would just like to offer you some reassurance that there are no blanket-bans to be imposed on people who treat their diabetes with insulin. This article refers more to the change in safety regulations, where people are experiencing extreme hypos or hypoglycaemia – this applies to people who have Type 1 or Type 2 and are at risk of experiencing low blood glucose or hypo. If your medication can cause hypos, it should tell you on the patient information leaflet enclosed, but you can also contact us on our websites.
  • Obvioulsly –  nearly everyone who manages their diabetes with insulin is going to experience hypos fairly regularly, but these wouldn’t usually be described as ‘severe’ or ‘requiring assistance’, which we would usually interpret as needing a paramedic or another person to actually administer the hypo treatment. However, we do share your concerns on how the DVLA will interpret this.
To give you some broader information about this situation then, Diabetes UK has been aware of the proposed changes to driving regulations following an EU Directive, and has been working closely with the DVLA regarding the implementation. We have reported the changes over the past two years in our magazine Balance, on our website. . . .
  • This article is referring to an EU Directive on current driving regulations which is due to be implemented in the UK in October 2011. This would remove the blanket ban for people with diabetes who treat their condition with insulin and allow them to apply for a Group 2 licence (which includes large lorries and buses), providing they meet strict medical criteria, and can demonstrate they have adequate control of the condition by regular blood glucose monitoring. People with Group 2 vehicle licences who are treated with insulin will also have to undergo an annual independent medical assessment.
We recognise that more stringent criteria for the assessment of Group 2 licences is necessary and is pleased to see the DVLA proposes to use similar criteria to those we recommended for the assessment of C1 and C1+E licences. It is also proposed that a group of expert diabetologists will be set up to assess applicants in a separate appointment on an annual basis. We recognise individual assessment for all Group 2 Licences will allow drivers to be recognised for good awareness, control and road safety. We also understand the new assessment will require three months’ of blood glucose readings and recommend any driver hoping to apply for a Group 2 licence in October, should start collecting this evidence as soon as possible.
  • However, this also means that from October, people with diabetes who experience hypos may have their Group 1 licences revoked if they report two severe episodes in a 12-month period.
We do have concerns around the new DVLA definitions of ‘severe’ and ‘recurrent’ hypoglycaemia.


Up until now, severe hypoglycaemia has only referred to episodes of hypoglycaemia requiring the assistance of another person to administer actively carbohydrate, glucagon or other resuscitative actions during waking hours. The new definition used by the DVLA also includes nocturnal hypoglycaemia (occurring when the individual is asleep). We believe nocturnal hypoglycaemia has no medical basis of relevance to driving.
  • Diabetes UK believes people with diabetes do not pose a greater risk when driving than people without the condition, if they take all the necessary precautions every time they drive. There is no evidence people with diabetes are at greater risk than others when driving. We therefore do not agree with any blanket bans and believe individual assessment is the only way to properly assess risk. Diabetes UK agrees that a person with diabetes should not be issued a licence if they cannot prove their medical fitness to drive. However, they should always be given the right to undergo assessment.
We believe caution is needed around the adaptation of this EU standard which may refuse licence renewals for people with two ‘severe’ hypos in 12 months – despite their ability to drive safely and without incident.
The DVLA must clarify and communicate that needing assistance is a very different scenario from being incapacitated to the degree that the other person’s help facilitates the individual’s recovery from hypoglycaemia. We are concerned the assessment form for ‘fitness to drive’ will be self-reporting and, if the definition is unclear, may prevent safe, well-controlled drivers renewing their licences.
  • We understand this stricter definition of hypoglycaemia comes from the EC Directive itself, which does not specify nocturnal hypoglycaemia as an exception. However, Diabetes UK believes the DVLA may be interpreting the EC Directive in the strictest sense, not necessarily in the spirit of the Directive and we are therefore currently exploring how the Directive has been implemented across the rest of Europe.
We have expressed these concerns to the DVLA and the minister for transport, and we are working with the DVLA to try and ensure the process for applying and re-applying for licences is fair, consistent, transparent and safe.
Any new information will be published on our website when we receive it, so it may be a good idea to keep an eye on things there. You can find out more about driving and diabetes in our Guide to diabetes, and read Diabetes UK’s full position statement around the proposed changes to the law.
  • Though Diabetes UK is not associated with the following website in any way, you may also be interested to know that an electronic petition has been set-up on the governments website, which you can view here:
I do hope this has been useful, but please do contact us again if you have any specific concerns or questions. Again, you can also call our Careline on 0845 120 2960*, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. The lines are staffed by trained Careline counsellors who would be happy to offer what support and information they can.
With Best Wishes
Diabetes UK Careline

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