A short questionnaire that screens drivers with type 1 diabetes can identify those who are at risk of future driving mishaps, a US study reports.
The 11-item questionnaire can also be used as an online intervention to help high-risk drivers avoid incidents on the road.
The Risk Assessment of Diabetic Drivers (RADD) scale has been developed by scientists from University of Virginia Health System and Virginia Driving Safety Laboratory in Charlottesville.
It includes questions relating to past driving experiences and diabetes management, specifically hypoglycemic events and ability to identify symptoms of low blood sugar.
People with type 1 diabetes need to take greater precautions while driving due to the risk of hypoglycemia at the wheel.
In the UK, drivers are allowed only one episode of severe hypoglycemia in 12 months to retain a Group 1 license (cars and motorcycles) and no episodes of severe hypoglycemia for Group 2 licenses (trucks and busses).
“Like pilots who have to go through a pre-flight checklist to ensure all systems are a go, drivers with diabetes should go through a check list, asking themselves whether they have had more physical activity, taken more insulin, eaten fewer carbohydrates than usual, feel any unusual symptoms and judge whether they are low or likely to go low during the drive,” said lead author Dr Daniel Cox.
“If the answer is yes, then they should take appropriate steps to avoid hypoglycemia while driving,” Cox said to Reuters UK.
Around 35 per cent of participants were judged as high-risk following this study, with their mishap rates deemed to be three times higher than those who were low-risk.
The researchers then found that those high-risk drivers who participated in the online intervention had a lower driving mishap rates compared to high-risk drivers who did not participate.
Dr Eitaro Nakashima from Chubu Rosai Hospitalin Nagoya, Japa, wasn’t involved in the study, but believes this intervention could help prevent driving regulations from being tightened for people with diabetes.
Nakashima told Reuters Health: “In my opinio, each patient should understand the degree of risk of driving mishaps and prepare sugar in their car. For general public, education and individual customised treatment are important for good outcome instead of tightening of driving regulations.”
The findings of the study appear online in Diabetes Care.