August 24, 2000
Question from Illinois, USA:
My daughter was diagnosed 5 months ago and just received her driver's license. I have heard that her blood sugar should be over 100 before she drives. Is there a certain number that her blood sugar should be at before she gets in the car to drive?
From my perspective, the answer is to avoid being low. 100 isn’t bad, but it might be and can be lower and have no problems. What people are suggesting is a number that is safe now, and which should be safe for a while.
Always have glucose tablets and eat a couple at the first hint of a low and then stop and pull over and check. That’s the hard rule.
Additional comments from Dr. Stuart Brink:
Driving with diabetes should not be a problem for most people. The issue involves common sense approaches to avoiding hypoglycemia. In the simplest terms, knowing one’s blood glucose levels before driving is a wise and safe rule to avoid hypoglycemia and any errors that may occur when someone is hypoglycemic and driving. Other issues to be addressed include overall glucose control, wearing medical identification, carrying fast acting glucose tablets, juice or other ways to treat hypoglycemia, and discussions with the diabetes team members to ensure that any other safety and skill issues are addressed. In most of the United States, medical clearance is needed to obtain a driving permit or license.
The exact blood glucose value when someone should not be driving is very individual based upon hypoglycemia awareness or unawareness unawareness problems as well as degree of general glucose control.
[Editor’s comment: We ran a poll about checking blood glucose before driving, and the results were disappointing to me. Given the risk for danger that accompanies low blood sugar, I encourage you to help your daughter learn the potentially life saving habit of always checking her blood sugar before she drives. Also, always keep fast-acting carbohydrates, such as glucose tablets, in the car.