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I drive a commercial vehicle, will I be allowed to continue...?
With effect April 1991 the law does not allow a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) or Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence to patients treated with insulin. A person with a LGV or PCV license will therefore have their license withdrawn if they progress to treatment with insulin.
Patients who had type 1 diabetes and were issued with such a licence before April 1991 when the law changed are the only exceptions to this rule. These cases are dealt with individually and licenses can be re-issued annually subject to a satisfactory medical review.
A LGV or PCV license can be held by patients treated by diet or OHAs providing there are no visual or medical problems.
With regard to Lighter Goods and Smaller Passenger Vehicles the second EU driver licensing directive came into force in the UK in January 1998. Insulin treated diabetic drivers lost their entitlement to drive lighter goods and smaller passenger carrying vehicles. This includes vehicles in the C1 category (between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes) and D1 category (small passenger carrying vehicles for 9 or more passengers). They will retain the right to pull caravans, drive cars with trailers and tow broken down vehicles by car.
The bar to driving vehicles in these categories covers only vocational (commercial) drivers and does not extend to individuals driving on a voluntary basis.
Always check your blood sugar before and after a journey. During a long journey by car ensure frequent stops and check your sugar levels at least every two hours. A snack every two hours is advisable.
Always carry a source of fast acting carbohydrate food in the car such as chocolate or glucose tablets.
Always carry identification in the event of emergency.
If you have an unexplained attack of hypoglycaemia do not drive until you have addressed the cause. Discuss this further with your doctor or diabetes nurse.
Remember if you have an accident which is attributed to hypoglycaemia you may be liable to a charge of driving under the influence of drugs.
You should always abstain from alcohol completely when driving.
Stop driving as soon as it is safe to do so.
Take a tablet of glucose or a glucose drink
Remove the ignition key and move to the passenger seat. If on the Motorway leave your car with hazard warnings on and move to a position of safety.
Diabetes must be disclosed to your insurer at time of diagnosis and renewal of policy. Changes in treatment and complications must also be disclosed at this time. Failing to notify your insurer may render any claims you subsequently make, invalid. Not all insurance companies will load their policies in the same way and there is no single insurance scheme which will be the cheapest in every case. Contact the BDA for further advice.
The standards for eyesight in patients with diabetes are the same as those for any other driver. You should be able to read a number plate (7.9cm) at a distance of 20.5 metres and have a visual field of at least 120° in the horizontal axis and at least 20° in the vertical axis. This approximates to an equivalent Snellen Chart corrected acuity of 6/12. If in doubt your doctor will refer you to the Ophthalmology Clinic for formal assessment.
Dr. Nishan Wijenaike, Consultant Physician