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Report highlights risk of driving with hypoglycaemia

More support and advice is needed for drivers with Hypoglycaemia in Type 2 diabetes to ensure they can manage their condition and remain healthy and on the road, according to a new report from TRL.

The report ‘The forgotten risk of driving with Hypoglycaemia in Type 2 diabetes’ argues that health care professionals and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) are best placed to do more to help make drivers aware of how best to manage their condition.

Hypoglycaemia, commonly known as a ‘hypo’ occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels become too low, with the result that a person can feel shaky; sweating; tired; suffers blurred vision and in severe cases can lose consciousness.

Even in less severe cases drivers become inattentive, lack situation awareness and the judgement of whether to continue driving or stop and self-treat.

It is therefore a significant risk factor for people with Type 2 diabetes, particularly when it comes to safe driving and those who drive regularly for work.

Professor Andrew Parkes, chief scientist and research director at TRL said: “Health care professionals could do more to help drivers with diabetes understand their risks and responsibilities when driving. 

“We know that drivers with diabetes are not sufficiently aware of the need to speak to their doctor to check that their diabetes medication is suitable for someone who drives.

“It is a problem of treatment regimes, rather than the diabetes itself, that leads to hypos and accident risk.”

The report makes a number of recommendations:

  • The DVLA, as a trusted source of information, to provide clear and simple guidance on its website advising drivers of ways to prevent hypoglycaemia through speaking to their health care professionals (HCPs).
  • Ambulance Services to collect data about hypoglycaemia in a consistent format so that the hidden risk of hypoglycaemia can be compared across regions and integrated into the patient pathway.
  • NICE to advise HCPs to ask patients with Type 2 diabetes if driving is part of their work and to consider this when prescribing medication.
  • People with Type 2 diabetes to be given appropriate education on the causes and risks of hypoglycaemia and the management of  Type 2 diabetes, to empower them to speak to their HCP about a review of their medicines.
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