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Int J Clin Pract Suppl. 2001 Sep;(123):38-42.

Driving mishaps and hypoglycaemia: risk and prevention.

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  • 1University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Driving is a complex, multi-task activity that can be affected by cognitive impairment resulting from episodes of severe hypoglycaemia. Intensive insulin therapy increases the likelihood of severe hypoglycaemia but there have been few studies examining effects on driving skills. A survey carried out recently indicated that patients with type 1 diabetes had twice the incidence of driving accidents than their non-diabetic spouses or patients with type 2 diabetes. The motor accidents were associated with more frequent low blood glucose while driving and less frequent self-monitoring. In driving simulation tests it was found that driving has an intrinsic metabolic demand that can contribute to hypoglycaemia. Driving performance began to deteriorate at around 3.6 mmol/l but drivers frequently did not recognise and failed to treat the hypoglycaemia. Those who did self-treat had more driving relevant symptoms and less neuroglycopenia quantified by EEG alpha-theta differences. Patients should be recommended not to begin driving if blood glucose is below 4.5 mmol/l and should not continue to drive if they suspect that blood glucose has fallen below 4 mmol/l while driving. If hypoglycaemia is suspected patients should immediately pull off the road, measure blood glucose if possible, treat themselves as necessary and not resume driving until glucose and cognitive-motor function return to normal. The problems of driving and hypoglycaemia should be discussed with patients with diabetes and behavioural interventions instigated. To this end, Blood Glucose Awareness Training (BGAT) and Hypoglycaemia Anticipation, Awareness and Treatment Training (HAATT) have been developed and shown to markedly reduce incidence of driving mishaps.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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