ISSN 1172-0689 (print)ISSN 1172-0778 (online)
If you’ve got diabetes, you need to be aware of the risks involved
7. If you have diabetes, alcohol can be particularly dangerous
when you’re driving. If you know the risks, you can take steps to
because it can cause hypoglycaemia or worsen its effects. We
recommend that people with diabetes avoid consuming even small amounts of alcohol if they’re going to drive.
Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)
When you shouldn’t drive
Low blood sugar levels are dangerous for drivers with diabetes.
If you’re taking insulin or tablets for diabetes (except
In some situations, you may need to refrain from driving. If you
Metformin), it’s very important that you avoid low blood sugar
have a mild hypoglycaemic episode, we recommend that you
levels, which can dangerously impair your driving.
don’t drive for at least an hour, to give your brain time torecover.
Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)
If you have a severe hypoglycaemic episode (eg when you need
Very high blood sugar levels could leave you feeling unwell or
someone else’s help to deal with it), you shouldn’t drive for 24
tired, and may affect your ability to drive safely. You should not
hours. If you have several hypoglycaemic episodes, you should
drive if you’re severely hyperglycaemic.
talk to your doctor before you return to driving.
If you have a severe hypoglycaemic episode while you’re driving,
you shouldn’t drive for at least a month – whether you’re involved
in a crash or not. It’s likely you’ll need to see a specialist before
If your diabetes has just been diagnosed and your treatment is
you can safely return to driving, and you’ll need to talk to your
still being adjusted, you may not be fit to drive just yet. Check
Precautions while driving
Your driving ability could be affected by long-term complications
If your diabetes is well controlled, you can drive a private
of diabetes, such as eyesight deterioration and the loss of normal
car safely. However, there are times when you need to take
sensation in your feet. Check with your doctor.
1. Always have meals and snacks before and during long
journeys. It’s safest not to delay meal times. Take regular, short breaks from driving.
Sometimes a driver with diabetes may be issued with a licence that has certain conditions attached. The conditions will depend
2. Check your blood sugar levels regularly. If you feel that your
blood sugar is low, stop driving and treat it with a quick acting
the type of licence (classes and endorsements)
sugar, eg three glucose tablets. Follow this up with a plain
muesli bar or biscuits. Wait until the sugar has started to work
whether the driver has any history of hypoglycaemic attacks
3. Keep a supply of plain muesli bars, biscuits, glucose tablets,
how carefully the driver follows their medication schedule
dried fruit and long lasting fruit juice in your pocket or in the
an assessment of the extent to which the driver suffers from
the medical complications that are commonly associated
4. Don’t delay treating low blood sugar levels. The brain becomes
confused when blood sugars reach low levels. Be aware of your
The NZTA decides the licence conditions, having regard to
warning signs. Although a mild hypo may not seem to impair
the Medical aspects of fitness to drive booklet, and in
your driving, it’s vital to act before your judgement is affected.
consultation with the NZTA’s Chief Medical Advisor.
5. If you sometimes experience hypoglycaemia unawareness
(hypos without warning signs), it may be unwise for you to drive. You should discuss this with your doctor or specialist diabetes nurse.
Insulin and tablets for the control of diabetes are classified as drugs under the Land Transport Act 1998. You may be
6. Remember that changing a car tyre or pushing a car could
prosecuted under this Act if you misuse or abuse diabetes
result in low blood sugar levels. Be prepared!
medications and your driving results in crashes or injuries.
For a case to proceed, however, there would need to be proof that
Where can I find out more?
the way you’d used the drugs was contrary to medical advice.
Passenger services and heavy vehicles
– phone: (04) 499 7145 or 0800 342 238– email: firstname.lastname@example.org– website: www.diabetes.org.nz.
People with type 1 diabetes are generally not considered fit todrive heavy trade vehicles, taxis, buses and other related
See your doctor or other specialist. A handbook that
vehicles. The NZTA may, in exceptional circumstances, grant
includes a chapter on diabetes, Medical aspects of fitness to
a licence after consultation with your general practitioner and
, has been issued to all doctors.
diabetes specialist. If a licence is granted to drive any of these
vehicles, then strict conditions are likely to be imposed.
The information in this factsheet is a general guide only. It is
not the source of the law and should not be used in place of authoritative legal documents. Some factsheets are updated
Call our contact centre: 0800 822 422.
frequently and print versions can quickly become out of date.
Visit our website: www.nzta.govt.nz.
If the currency of the information you are reading is
important, check the factsheet index on our website
Write to us: NZ Transport Agency, Private Bag 11777,
(www.nzta.govt.nz/factsheets) or call us on 0800 822 422.
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