Drivers with diabetes will no longer lose their licenses “unnecessarily” due to night-time severe hypoglycemia following changes to European driving laws.
In 2011, an EU Directive stated that drivers who suffered very low blood glucose levels at night, on more than one occasion in a 12-month period, must hand over their driving licence.
However, European driving and diabetes experts reviewed the rules last year and voted overwhelmingly for amendments to be made.
The European Commission will now ask the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to overturn its ban on drivers with diabetes by January 2018.
Leading charity Diabetes UK said it has been campaigning for five years for the rules to be changed as many people lost their licence “unnecessarily”.
One of these cases was highlighted in 2015 when Helen Nicholds, a nurse with type 1 diabetes, won her license back from the DVLA.
Nicholds previously had her license revoked after she informed the DVLA of two severe hypos she suffered whilst in a deep sleep in June 2014. Helen set up a petition to overturn the decisio, which reached Prime Minister David Camero, and was eventually back behind the wheel.
The current guidelines do not differentiate between daytime and night-time episodes of severe hypoglycemia, and the DVLA has been asked to make the necessary legislative changes by January 2018.
The changes have not yet been introduced so drivers with diabetes should continue to comply with the law. These means people with diabetes must inform the DVLA if they experience one or more episodes of severe hypoglycemia, including when asleep, within a 12-month period, and of any changes to their condition that may affect their ability to drive.
Chris Askew, Diabetes UK chief executive, said: “The European Commission is absolutely right to ask the DVLA to overturn the ban on night-time hypos, and we are delighted this is happening having campaigned for five years now to get this ban lifted and put a stop to some people with diabetes losing their driving licence unfairly.
“Beyond the unfairness, losing their driving licence has caused people all sorts of unnecessary stress and anxiety, even in some cases leading to people losing their jobs.”
A DVLA spokesman said: “While hypoglycemia can pose a risk to road safety, there are some people who only suffer episodes of hypoglycemia while asleep, and under the current EU rules they would not be able to drive.
“These changes will mean that licensing can be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on medical evidence and risk assessments. We have worked with the EU to introduce this common-sense approach.”