Driving and diabetes
Depending on how their condition is treated, people with diabetes need to make special arrangements in order to be able to drive a car or motorbike in the UK. When applying for a driving license, anyone who has diabetes must declare their condition on the application form.
- People with diabetes who are taking insulin will normally be issued with a license for 1, 2, or 3 years. If a person begins insulin treatment after being issued with a license they must notify the DVLA (Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency, the body that issues driving licenses in the UK).
- A person on temporary insulin treatment (less than 3 months) can usually retain their normal license.
- People taking diabetes tablets will normally be issued with a standard license. Existing license holders who begin treatment with tablets are advised to inform the DVLA, and they must do so if they also have diabetes-related complications.
- Those who are managing their diabetes by diet alone need not inform the DVLA if they are diagnosed when they are already the holder of a license.
Whatever their treatment, people with diabetes must inform the DVLA if they develop any diabetes-related complications which affect their ability to drive (for example, vision problems or nerve problems that affect the limbs).
People who have recently started taking insulin and whose diabetes is not yet stabilised, or who find it difficult to recognise the symptoms of hypoglycaemia, or whose limbs are weakened due to neuropathy (nerve damage) should not drive.
Full details of these rules (and of the special rules governing drivers of LGVs and PCVs) can be found in the DVLA ‘At a glance guide’ which is available to download via the link on the right of this page.
Having a hypoglycaemic attack (very low blood sugar) while driving is potentially dangerous both for the person concerned and other road users. It is important that people with diabetes who are at risk of hypoglycamia follow these guidelines:
- Check blood glucose before setting off on a journey and test glucose regularly during long journeys.
- Keep glucose tablets or a sugary drink in the car.
- Stop driving if symptoms of hypoglycaemia occur and get out of the driver's seat.
- Leave a reasonable period of time between treating a hypoglycaemic attack and restarting driving
People with diabetes should not necessarily pay higher motor insurance premiums or be refused cover, unless there is evidence of an increased risk. Many companies no longer ask about diabetes.