Driving with Diabetes

Driving a motor vehicle is a responsible undertaking.

It involves a level of physical capacity – including good perception, good response times and good judgement.

If you have diabetes and drive, there are a number of things you need to consider.

Safe driving can be affected by a number of factors – including hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) and hyperglycaemia (high blood glucose levels).

Some of the long term complications people with diabetes can experience may also be an issue – including nerve damage (neuropathy) and impaired vision (retinopathy).

Whether you choose to drive a motor vehicle or not, depends on your fitness to drive.

Your fitness to drive can be assessed in accordance with the national guidelines “Assessing Fitness to Drive” published by Austroads.

If you have any concerns, please check this link.

Your responsibilities

The Registrar of Motor Vehicles has an obligation to ensure that all drivers are medically fit and able to drive competently and safely.

Both you and your doctor are also required to report any medical condition that could affect your ability to drive a motor vehicle safely to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.

For information on the fitness to drive assessment or to report a medical condition, please contact a Service SA customer service centre or call 13 10 84.

Visit the website

Safe driving tips

If you take insulin or medications that can cause hypoglycaemia (a hypo):

  • Be sure to take your meter, hypo treatment (e.g. jelly beans) and carbohydrate snacks with you, even on short trips. Keep a kit in your car.
  • Always check your blood glucose level before driving. Don’t drive unless your level is over 5mmol/L.
  • If you have a hypo whilst driving, pull over and turn off the engine. Do not drive again until your blood glucose level returns to normal and you feel well.
  • Plan long trips well. Stop regularly to check your blood glucose level and have snack breaks.
  • Wear identification that states your name, doctor and diabetes treatment.
  • If you think you may have hypo unawareness (if you feel the symptoms usually experienced with a hypo) speak to your doctor or diabetes educator to develop a safe driving plan for you.

If you have a severe hypo at any time you should not drive until you have discussed this with your doctor.

What is a severe hypo?

A severe hypo is a hypo that someone else has to help you to treat – either because you don’t recognise the hypo or by the time you do, you aren’t able to treat yourself.

A severe hypo happens when low blood glucose affects brain function, your concentration, co-ordination or level of consciousness.

Having a recent severe hypo means you are at risk of further episodes, especially in the next few weeks.

Severe hypoglycaemia is serious, especially when it occurs during driving.

If it happens while you are driving, you could cause a motor vehicle accident.