In Diabetes and Driving Mishaps (Diabetes Care 26:2329-2334, 2003), researchers examined whether diabetes is associated with an increased risk of driving mishaps. The study concludes that "Type 1 diabetic drivers are at increased risk for driving mishaps, but type 2 diabetic drivers, even on insulin, appear not to be at a higher risk than nondiabetic individuals."
In Motor Vehicle Crashes in Diabetic Patients with Tight Glycemic Control: A Population-based Case Control Analysis, researchers found that people with type 1 diabetes who had an HbA1c of 6.9% or lower has an almost three-fold increased risk of a motor vehicle accident than those who had an HbA1c of 9% or greater. Given that we know the important of achieving and maintaining a low HbA1c, this study reinforces the critical importance of checking blood glucose before driving to reduce the risk of a hypoglycemia-related accident.
Among the risk factors cited for the increased risk of automobile accidents among people with type 1 diabetes is "infrequent self-testing before driving." Given the potential seriousness of a mishap while driving, the importance of checking your blood sugar before getting behind the wheel cannot be overestimated. This year's poll results are encouraging, and show a major increase in the number of people reporting that the always check before driving.
Drivers with diabetes need to know that the symptoms of hypoglycemia can mimic those of drunkenness. If you drive, always keep fast acting carbohydrates with you in the car in case you feel low. And it's a very good idea to wear some sort of medical identification product that clearly states that you have diabetes. It could help save your life.