Low Blood Sugar in Diabetes Leads to More Driving Mishaps

01/12/2010 - News

Low Blood Sugar in Diabetes Leads to More Driving Mishaps

By: June Chen, MD


Episodes of low blood sugar in people with diabetes can result in unsafe driving, according to new research published in the December 2009 issue of the journal Diabetes Care. Low blood sugar may affect cognitive-motor functioning, which can negatively impact the driving performance of individuals with type 1 diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Virginia Health Sciences Centerand their colleagues identified 452 drivers with type 1 diabetes from three geographically diverse centers and asked them to provide monthly reports on driving mishaps, including collisions, citations, and moderate or severe hypoglycemia while driving. Over a 12-month period, 52 percent of the drivers with diabetes reported at least one driving related to low blood sugar. And, 32 percent reported two or more incidents and five percent reported six or more hypoglycemia-related driving mishaps. Interestingly, driving with low blood sugar did not appear to be the cause of a large number of actual collisions. Factors associated with these driving mishaps included number of miles driven, a history of severe hypoglycemia, and use of an insulin pump.

Based on this prospective study, it seems that many people with type 1 diabetes experience hypoglycemia-related driving events. Both patients with diabetes and their healthcare providers should be aware of the risks associated with low blood sugar and driving. People with diabetes are advised to stop driving right away, eat a fast-acting sugar, and wait for their blood sugar levels to rise before driving again. Checking blood sugar prior to driving may help to reduce the number of driving mishaps in people with diabetes, and it is recommended that blood sugar levels be at least 90 mg/dL before beginning to drive.



Diabetes Care 2009;32(12):2177-2180


Created on: 01/12/2010
Reviewed on: 01/12/2010

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