If you’ve got diabetes, you need to be aware of the risks involved when you’re driving. If you know the risks, you can take steps to manage them.
Low blood sugar levels are dangerous for drivers with diabetes. If you’re taking insulin or tablets for diabetes (except Metformin), it’s very important that you avoid low blood sugar levels, which can dangerously impair your driving.
Very high blood sugar levels could leave you feeling unwell or tired, and may affect your ability to drive safely. You should not drive if you’re severely hyperglycaemic.
If your diabetes has just been diagnosed and your treatment is still being adjusted, you may not be fit to drive just yet. Check with your health practitioner, which could be your usual doctor (GP), a registered nurse or nurse practitioner, or a specialist if appropriate.
If your diabetes is well controlled, you can drive a private car safely. However, there are times when you need to take precautions.
In some situations, you may need to refrain from driving. If you have a mild hypoglycaemic episode, we recommend that you don’t drive for at least an hour, to give your brain time to recover.
If you have a severe hypoglycaemic episode (eg when you need someone else’s help to deal with it), you shouldn’t drive for 24 hours. If you have several hypoglycaemic episodes, you should talk to your health practitioner before you return to driving.
If you have a severe hypoglycaemic episode while you’re driving, you shouldn’t drive for at least a month – whether you’re involved in a crash or not. It’s likely you’ll need to see a specialist before you can safely return to driving, and you’ll need to talk to your health practitioner.
Your driving ability could be affected by long-term complications of diabetes, such as eyesight deterioration and the loss of normal sensation in your feet. Check with your health practitioner.
Sometimes a driver with diabetes may be issued with a licence that has certain conditions attached. The conditions will depend on:
The Transport Agency decides the licence conditions, having regard to the Medical aspects of fitness to drive booklet, and in consultation with the Transport Agency's Chief Medical Advisor.
Insulin and tablets for the control of diabetes are classified as drugs under the Land Transport Act 1998. You may be prosecuted under this act if you misuse or abuse diabetes medications and your driving results in crashes or injuries.
For a case to proceed, however, there would need to be proof that the way you’d used the drugs was contrary to medical advice.
People with type 1 diabetes are generally not considered fit to drive heavy trade vehicles, taxis, buses and other related vehicles. The Transport Agency may, in exceptional circumstances, grant a licence after consultation with your health practitioner and diabetes specialist. If a licence is granted to drive any of these vehicles, then strict conditions are likely to be imposed.