Diabetes and Driving: A Call for ActionName : Zainab Al Abadelah
Affliation : Diabetes Educator
University : Rashid Center for Diabetes and Research
Country : United Arab Emirates
Background: Patients with diabetes treated with Sulphonylurea and or insulin are at increased risk of hypoglycaemia, this might have a serious consequences especially whilst driving, therefore they should be aware of the associated risks of hypoglycaemia and are required to take the necessary precautions to minimize those risks to themselves and to the public. To assess their knowledge on driving and diabetes, we carried out a survey of patients attending our tertiary diabetes centre.
Methods & Results: 51 patients randomly selected during their routine diabetes follow up appointments. A total of 40 males and 11 females completed the questionnaire. 86%(44) of patients have type 2 diabetes and 14%(7) have type 1 diabetes. Most patients (59%) were insulin treated with or without Sulphonylurea. All patients surveyed were drivers and 25%(13) of those admitted having hypoglycaemic episodes. Patients were asked what blood glucose level they consider low. 31%(16) said blood glucose below 100mg/dl is low whilst 18%(9) said level below 70mg/dl is low, 28%(14) said level below 60mg/dl is low and interestingly 22%(11) of patients do not know. 39%(20) of patients had at least one episode of hypoglycaemia over the last 12 months and the majority of those 71%(36) have hypoglycaemia related (or hypoglycaemic) symptoms whereas 29%(15) get occasional symptoms Most patients 65%(33) do not test their glucose before driving and 71%(36) of patients do not carry their meter with them in the car. 80%(41) of patients do not stop and test their blood glucose if their journey is longer than 2 hours. The vast majority of patients 82%(42) did not need third party assistance with their hypoglycaemic episodes while 12%(6) and 4%(2) required assistance once and more than once respectively. Interestingly, when patients were asked about what they will do when having hypoglycaemia while driving, 57%(29) of patients will stop the car and treat their hypos, 33%(17) treat their hypo while continuing driving, 16%(8) will continue driving to the nearest store and 8%(4) will continue driving and treat themselves upon arrival to their destination. Only 33%(17) of patients keep some form of carbohydrates with them in the car whilst driving and most of them 73%(37) don’t carry any form of diabetes identification with them.
Conclusion: Our survey demonstrated significant shortfalls in patient's knowledge on diabetes and safe driving. It also highlighted an urgent need for action to ensure patients and public safety. We are planning an educational campaign on safe driving and dangers of hypoglycaemia during driving by ensuring driving is an integral part of our education package, we developed informative patient information leaflet and utilized our waiting area media outlets for this purpose.