Diabetes is a debilitating problem that affects at least 25 million people in the US. While most people know it affects what they can eat and their physical activity, millions are unaware that it affects their ability to drive as well. Numerous research studies point to a history of accidents related to hypo or hyperglycemia.
What’s interesting is that many diabetics are unaware of any changes in their driving ability, often misstating it for other issues. In fact, there is a good chance they do not notice the difference in their driving skills. The truth however is completely different. As such, here is a closer look at how diabetes affects your ability to drive.
It increases the Risk of Accidents
Changes in your blood sugar levels affect your risk of being in or causing an accident. Essentially, when your blood sugar level drops, there is an increased risk you may feel sleepy when you are driving. As such, diabetic drivers will not notice they begin driving erratically. In fact, most diabetics simply shrug this off as a lack of sleep.
The truth is that when they start feeling drowsy while driving, there is a good chance that it’s because of a drop in their blood sugar level. As a result, they begin driving erratically in short intervals and thus increase their risk of being in an accident.
More than just sleepy, changes in their blood sugar level make their vision rather blurry. As such, diabetic drivers may miss numerous elements of important road detail they otherwise may never have. This includes signs, lane mergers, their rear view mirror and the distance between their vehicle and another object or car.
For many diabetics that experience severe symptoms when their blood sugar level increases or decreases to dangerous levels, they may run the risk of experiencing more fatal problems such as seizing while driving. More specifically, when their blood sugar level drops below 3.9 mmol/L, they may experience seizures and thus lose control of the car completely.
It Affects your Ability to Reach your Designation
Reaching your destination is at the core of any driver’s mind, including those of diabetics. However, diabetics are at an increased chance of not reaching their destination compared to those who are undiagnosed with diabetes. This is due to cognitive and physical impairments that hamper their driving abilities.
Changes in sugar levels during short drives may not be very risky considering the distance to be covered. However, during long commutes, these changes can be very problematic. For example, when their blood sugar level drops, millions of diabetics feel confused. As a result, they may not be able to arrive at their destination on time. Combined with blurry vision and drowsiness, it affects their ability to reach their destination at all.
It Affects the Ability to Accelerate and Brake
Accelerating and braking requires proper leg movement, this is especially true in cases of emergency where the brake needs to be applied more firmly or very quickly. Diabetics are prone to tingling sensations in their leg or behind their knee (Knee Paresthesia), which affects their ability to move their foot down properly and push on the appropriate pedals.
For diabetics who drive, it may be a good idea to talk to their general practitioner first. This will ensure they can take the necessary precautions to ensure they can drive safely on the road and not harm themselves or others on it. If you are diagnosed with diabetes and have severe problems such as nerve damage, it may be a good idea to stay off the road altogether.