Drivers should show awareness of diabetes

Having been diagnosed with diabetes about six years ago, I believe I can offer some useful comments on routeONE’s recent story.

As a condition for anyone to retain their licence, it seems essential that holders must show an awareness of their condition, and demonstrate that it is under control.

It seems particularly important that individuals know what constitutes a hypo, and how that can impair driving. That is why the law requires two-hourly blood sugar tests. Being insulin dependent I have no choice; I find my passengers have little problem with needing to stop, and for most of the work which I undertake, either the destination is within a two-hour range or for longer journeys there are convenient service areas.

In fact, it could be argued that this is about the length of time an average passenger might be expected to remain seated. Air, rail and sea travel allow freedom of movement, whereas as we all know it is inherently dangerous for passengers to be roaming around in a coach.

A diabetic also needs to understand the requirement for a minimum of two daily readings – at any given time a minimum of three months’ continuous blood sugar readings are required to be maintained.

The thing which is puzzling me is the reference to other medicines to help avoid low sugar readings. Being insulin dependent simply means the pancreas no longer produces insulin, and without injection blood sugar is dangerously high (unless one lives on a diet of eggs and salad), but with the expenditure of energy it would still be necessary to have an intake of carbohydrate.

If someone is tablet-controlled, the tablets (Metformin) are to help stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. I am puzzled by the medication to help avoid low blood sugar. This has never come up in conversation with my consultant, and I have two – the first for treatment and the second one being DVLA-appointed, who is a second opinion on whether one should hold a PCV/LGV.

I don’t think this question rests solely with ones GP or whoever undertakes the medical fitness examination. All diabetics need to understand their condition and be able to show that they are in control of the situation.

As far as I can see, the only sure way to avoid low blood sugar is a regular intake of carbohydrate, because it is also essential to know which carbohydrate is fast-acting. A PCV/LGV driver is allowed one instance of hypo where assistance is required; beyond that it is game over. It is equally worrying that there could be many out there who do not know they have the condition.

Chris Brown