Teens and Diabetes: Driving
One of the biggest moments in a teen's life is finally getting a driver's license. Teens with diabetes should have no problem getting their license in most states (that is, if you can pass your driving test!). Because of the danger of driving with hypoglycemia, you may be required to submit a written report from your doctor that your diabetes is in relatively good balance.
To avoid driving with low blood glucose, check your blood glucose level before getting in the car (especially for a long trip). If it's low, treat the hypoglycemia and wait until you're at a safer level before driving. Keep your glove compartment stocked with glucose tablets and snacks.
If you feel low while driving, pull over immediately and check your glucose. Treat the hypoglycemia and don't start out again until your glucose rises again.
It's especially important to check before getting in the car if you don't always feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia. You, your parents, and your doctor may want to come to an agreement on what blood glucose levels are safe for driving, as well as if and how often you should pull over and check during a car trip.
For many people with diabetes, driving is a central part of daily life. The ability to drive provides personal freedom and allows people to get to jobs, schools and stores more easily. The good news is that the vast majority of drivers with diabetes are able to safely operate motor vehicles. However, in certain situations symptoms or complications of diabetes may interfere with the ability to drive safely.
Private (Non-Commercial) Drivers' Licenses
There are precautions that people with diabetes can and should take to make sure they are safe behind the wheel. For more information on safe driving, see the brochure Driving When You Have Diabetes, created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Diabetes Association.
All states have special licensing rules governing medical conditions that may apply to people with diabetes. Some states apply these rules to all drivers with diabetes, while many others apply them only to those who have actually experienced episodes of altered consciousness due to the disease or have other complications of diabetes. Special licensing rules can include requirements for periodic medical evaluations from a physician and prohibitions on driving for a period of time after an episode of lost consciousness. The Association has gathered information from each of the 50 states about their policies on licensing drivers with diabetes.
Reprinted with the permission of the American Diabetes Association.
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