According to a report in a recent issue of Diabetes Care, commercial vehicle laws in the United States and Canada place driving restrictions on diabetics who need daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar. However, a crash rate study conducted by the University of Montreal among 3,500 Canadian truck drivers revealed that diabetic drivers who do not require insulin injections are 76% more likely than healthy drivers to have had an accident over a four-year period.
Different elements, such as oral medication, exercise and diet modifications, can affect blood sugar levels, leading to possible impairment.
The higher crash rate was found only among drivers of smaller delivery trucks. These drivers expend much more energy than tractor-trailer drivers because they have to stop frequently to load and unload. Because exercise causes blood sugar to drop, this kind of activity could cause blood sugar to drop low enough to impair driving. High blood sugar can also impair driving, causing blurred vision and other symptoms.
It was a mystery why the insulin-dependent diabetics studied did not show higher crash rates. Researchers could only conjecture that either the small number of insulin-dependent delivery truck drivers in the study skewed the results, or that insulin-dependent diabetics are better at managing their blood sugar levels.
The study recommends that diabetic truck drivers keep their doctors informed of their on-the-job activities so they can recommend appropriate treatment methods tailored to their specific needs.