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Warnings For Drivers With Diabetes

Drivers with diabetes are being urged to take precautions before getting behind the wheel.

Studies show that drivers with diabetes are 12 to 19 percent more likely than other drivers to have an auto accident. Sudden bouts of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can lead to confusion, delayed reaction, visual disturbances or loss of consciousness. People with diabetes may also have impaired vision or nerve function in the feet, which can affect driving.

Another studied revealed that out of the over 200 participants with diabetes, over 60 percent never tested their blood glucose level before driving. Another 70 percent reported that their doctors had never warned them of the dangers of hypoglycemia and driving.

In 2010, a New Jersey man with diabetes was driving when his blood sugar dropped and he became disoriented. He pulled to the side of the road and was barely coherent when police officers found him. The officers believed he was intoxicated, and attempted to arrest him and broke his wrist, despite a bracelet that identified him as a diabetic. The man has filed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.

An analysis of American insurance claims also found that drivers under the age of 65 with Type 2 diabetes who had been treated for hypoglycemia were 40 percent more likely to have had a motor vehicle accident than those who had not had hypoglycemic episodes.

The author the study, Dr. Brian Frier, advises drivers to check their blood sugar before driving a vehicle. The studies were not intended to catergorize people with diabetes as bad drivers, but identify risks associated with diabetes.

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Source: The New York Times, “Precautions Urged for Drivers with Diabetes,” Tara Parker-Pope, Jan. 28, 2013.

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