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Driving and type 1 diabetes

You can still drive if you have type 1 diabetes, but there are some extra steps you need to take to be legal and safe on the road.
Content last reviewed and updated: 21.08.2023

A man sitting in his car checking his blood glucose levels

Can you drive if you have type 1 diabetes?

In general, you can drive if you have type 1 diabetes, unless your type 1 affects your ability to drive safely on the road.

How does type 1 diabetes affect driving?

Many people with type 1 drive safely without incident. There are two main risks when it comes to type 1 and driving – having a hypo and having impaired eyesight (retinopathy). There are rules in place to address these and make sure everyone is safe.

Driving a car or motorcycle

Do you need to tell the DVLA if you have type 1 diabetes?

Yes. When you get a driving licence you must tell the DVLA that you have type 1 diabetes, using the confidential medical form DIAB1. You will be asked to fill out details about your type 1 treatment, blood glucose management and eyesight.

It’s possible that the DVLA might write to your doctor to ask them to recommend whether you should continue to drive.

What do you need to do when you’re driving?

Legally, if you have type 1 diabetes and you drive, you need to:

  • Check your blood glucose no longer than two hours before driving
  • Check your blood every two hours if you’re on a long journey

You also need to make sure you have a hypo treatment (like jelly babies, glucose tablets or fruit juice) and a snack with long-acting carbs (such as bread or pasta) in your car.

What to do if you have a hypo while driving

If you feel your levels are low, stop driving as soon as it’s safe, remove the key from the ignition and get out of the driver’s seat. Once you’ve treated your hypo, wait for 15 minutes, recheck your blood glucose and eat some carbohydrate. When you feel completely back to normal, wait 45 minutes until you drive again.

Using glucose sensors while driving a car or motorbike

Drivers of cars and motorcycles (classed as Group 1 drivers) can use a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or flash glucose monitor to check glucose levels, but you must carry a blood glucose meter with you to confirm readings from your sensors where:

  • your glucose level is 4.0 mmol/L or below
  • you are experiencing symptoms of a hypo
  • your CGM or flash sensor reading doesn’t match your symptoms (e.g. if you have the symptoms of a hypo but your CGM or flash is not showing this)

For more information visit the Government website.

Do you need to tell your car insurer if you have type 1 diabetes?

You will need to tell your car insurer that you have type 1 diabetes. Car insurance premiums can be slightly higher if you have type 1, so shopping around is a good way to get the best deals. Always make sure you read the small print.

Learning to drive

There is no reason you shouldn’t learn to drive if you have type 1 diabetes. Talk to your Diabetes Healthcare Team about your blood glucose management routine and how you might manage this around lessons.

Driving heavy vehicles

If you want to drive minibuses, coaches, lorries or buses (classed as Group 2 drivers) the rules are slightly different.

You will need to fill out a VDIAB1i which asks for information about your type 1 treatment, blood glucose management and eyesight.

The DVLA might then contact your doctor, arrange for you to be examined or ask you to take a driving or eyesight assessment.

You will also need to prove that you regularly check your blood glucose levels on a blood glucose meter that has the function to log when you do your checks. You’ll also need to declare that you haven’t had a hypo where you’ve needed help from someone else in the last 12 months.

For more information visit the Government website.

Using glucose sensors while driving a heavy vehicle

CGM or flash cannot be used to check glucose levels when you’re driving a heavy vehicle. You must use a blood glucose meter to check your glucose levels whilst driving a heavy vehicle.

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