"This finding calls into question laws that restrict driver's licenses on the basis of this measure of diabetes control," Redelmeier said.
The study could be the first step in getting driving laws changed, he added. His research group, Redelmeier said, was the first to identify driving and talking on cell phones as a hazard, which led to laws restricting the use of cell phones while driving.
Dr. Luigi F. Meneghini, an associate professor of clinical medicine and director of clinical operations for the division of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, agreed that the study "brings up the risk of driving while you have diabetes."
People taking medication to lower their blood sugar need to be aware of any symptoms of an oncoming hypoglycemic episode, Meneghini said. And older people, who he said often aren't aware that a hypoglycemic episode is starting, should check their blood sugar more often.
"They should certainly check their blood sugar before they get into a car," he said. "If they have low blood sugar, treat the low blood sugar and wait until their blood sugar is in a safe range before getting behind the wheel."
Redelmeier said he advises diabetics not to drive if they feel dizzy or have other symptoms of hypoglycemia. In addition, he urges people to always have food available to boost the blood sugar should a hypoglycemic episode start.
"If you had a hypoglycemic episode yesterday, you should be wary of driving a car tomorrow," Redelmeier said.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more on diabetes.
SOURCES: Donald A. Redelmeier, M.D., professor, medicine, and director, clinical epidemiology unit, University of Toronto, On
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