Type 1 Diabetes Driving Mishaps Common
Type 1 Patients Have Twice as Many Accidents, Violations as Type 2 Patients and Non-Diabetics
Check Blood Sugar Before Driving continued...
In 1998, Cox presented another study, based on simulated driving tests, at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association suggesting that even mild hypoglycemia -- blood sugar between 72 and 61 mg/dL -- can make driving dangerous. Prior to that research, later published in Diabetes Care in February 2000, many doctors believed that driving ability was impaired when blood sugar fell below 60 mg/dL.
In addition to hypoglycemic stupor while driving, those with type 1 diabetes who monitored their blood sugar less frequently or took insulin by injection rather than using an insulin pump had a greater probability of car crashes, says Cox.
"But I don't want to paint all diabetics with the same brush," he tells WebMD. "The reality is, about 20% of diabetics account for 80% of these episodes."
Agreed, says David Marrero, PhD, director of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Center at Indiana University School of Medicine.
"In talking, as I have, to bazillions of diabetic patients, many have experienced hypoglycemia while driving. But very few times have I ever heard of it being associated with an accident," he tells WebMD. "And there are other studies that show different results. One very large study in Canada, involving thousands of drivers, found that type 1 truckers had a lower accident rate than normals or type 2s."
Like Cox, he says that people with diabetes can reduce their risk by being prepared: "Before you drive, you check your glucose. Always carry some rapid-action glucose with you -- especially in your car. And if you feel light-headed, pull over immediately."