Diabetes Forecast

New Tool Makes Driving Safer For People With Type 1 Diabetes

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What to Know

People with type 1 diabetes are more than twice as likely to have a car crash as people who don’t have diabetes and nearly twice as likely as those with type 2. That heightened risk has several possible causes. For example, drivers with very low blood glucose may become dizzy and confused, pass out, or have a seizure while behind the wheel. A recent study suggests a new way to help people with type 1 diabetes drive more safely.

The Study

The first part of the study included 371 adults with type 1 diabetes, whose average age was 43. They rated their concerns about low blood glucose and its management, and they described their diabetes-related health complications, such as vision problems, foot and toe numbness, and heart disease. With that info, plus their recent history of car accidents or near misses, the researchers developed a tool to predict and reduce car accidents among people with type 1 diabetes. The second part of the study, involving 493 people with type 1, tested that tool, which included an online questionnaire to assess accident risk; a kit, kept in the car, for checking and treating low blood glucose; and a pre-driving safety checklist.

The Results

The study found that 35 percent of people with type 1 diabetes could be considered high-risk drivers, but the new tool reduced their likelihood of an accident or near miss by close to 60 percent. Over 12 months, high-risk drivers who followed the intervention reported an average of 2.5 mishaps. By contrast, high-risk drivers who followed their normal driving routine had an average of 4.25 mishaps on the road.


Drivers with type 1 diabetes need to be aware that low blood glucose can impair their ability to drive safely. It’s important they check their blood glucose and, if necessary, treat themselves before getting behind the wheel. The online questionnaire used in the study, called the Risk Assessment of Diabetic Drivers (RADD) scale, will soon be available from the American Diabetes Association, allowing users and their doctors to quickly assess risks and to develop a plan to prevent accidents.

Predicting and Reducing Driving Mishaps Among Drivers With Type 1 Diabetes.” Daniel J. Cox, Linda A. Gonder-Frederick, Harsimran Singh, Karen S. Ingersoll, Tom Banton, Jesse H. Grabman, Karen Schmidt, and William Clarke. Diabetes Care, June 2017; 40:742–750.

The information on this screen does not take the place of care from your doctor or other health care provider. If you have general questions about diabetes or diabetes-related research, e-mail askada@diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2382).



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