Diabetes and Driving

  1. American Diabetes Association

Of the nearly 19 million people in the U.S. with diagnosed diabetes (1), a large percentage will seek or currently hold a license to drive. For many, a driver's license is essential to work; taking care of family; securing access to public and private facilities, services, and institutions; interacting with friends; attending classes; and/or performing many other functions of daily life. Indeed, in many communities and areas of the U.S. the use of an automobile is the only (or the only feasible or affordable) means of transportation available.

There has been considerable debate whether, and the extent to which, diabetes may be a relevant factor in determining driver ability and eligibility for a license. This position statement addresses such issues in light of current scientific and medical evidence.

Sometimes people with a strong interest in road safety, including motor vehicle administrators, pedestrians, drivers, other road users, and employers, associate all diabetes with unsafe driving when in fact most people with diabetes safely operate motor vehicles without creating any meaningful risk of injury to themselves or others. When legitimate questions arise about the medical fitness of a person with diabetes to drive, an individual assessment of that person's diabetes management—with particular emphasis on demonstrated ability to detect and appropriately treat potential hypoglycemia—is necessary in order to determine any appropriate restrictions. The diagnosis of diabetes is not sufficient to make any judgments about individual driver capacity.

This document provides an overview of existing licensing rules for people with diabetes, addresses the factors that impact driving for this population, and identifies general guidelines for assessing driver fitness and determining appropriate licensing restrictions.

LICENSING REQUIREMENTS

People with diabetes are currently subject to a great variety of licensing requirements and restrictions. These licensing decisions occur at several points and involve different levels and types of review, depending …

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