Diabetes and travel: Behind the wheel precautions

Diabetic emergencies while driving.

Man behind wheel.

It’s that time of year for residents of the northern states to drive south in search of warmth and sunshine, leaving the cold and snow behind. For others it’s time to take that long awaited family road trip, escaping harsh weather for more mild conditions. No matter the distance or length of the road trip, what’s at the top of everyone’s list is arriving there safely. For individuals with diabetes, getting there safely becomes more than just safe driving.

For a person who is insulin-dependent, blood glucose level is paramount to the ability to drive safely. Experiencing a rapid drop in insulin levels (a severe hypoglycemic event) could possibly bring on symptoms of double vision and disorientation. Clearly problems for any driver behind the wheel.

For road trip safety, understand your physical health, chart your blood glucose levels frequently and don’t skip meals. Be prepared. Talk with your doctor about fast-acting glucose products that can be used in the event of an emergency. Your doctor and diabetic nurse educator are the best people to talk to regarding which glucose products are right for you.

Michigan State University Extension recommends these behind the wheel tips for diabetics:

  • Keep a glucose kit in your car at all times, it should be tolerant to warm and cold temperatures.
  • Before driving any distance be aware of your levels; think about how you are feeling, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to drive you if you’re feeling tired or stressed.
  • Carry your cell phone with pre-programed numbers of 911 and family members in the case of an emergency.
  • Stop often, don’t skip meals, eat the right foods and sugars which will keep you active and alert.

As always, buckle-up, don’t text and drive and enjoy your road trip!

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following professional diabetes resources:

American Diabetes Association: Driving & Diabetes

National Institute of Health: Understanding the risk of diabetes and driving

Did you find this article useful?