The guidelines for diabetes and driving have recently been updated. This page and resources are currently under review. Please visit the Austroads website for more information.
In March 2012, new medical standards came into effect for drivers of both private and commercial vehicles. The new standards are contained in the Austroads document Assessing Fitness to Drive 2012, which replaces the previous standards (Assessing Fitness to Drive 2003).
The new standards include the following:
- Private vehicle drivers treated by glucose-lowering agents other than insulin may generally drive without licence restriction but should be required to have five-yearly reviews.
- In addition to the sections on hypoglycaemia, there is now a new section on hyperglycaemia for commercial drivers whose diabetes is treated by either insulin or other glucose lowering agents and for private drivers whose diabetes is treated with insulin. The new medical standards address ‘satisfactory control’ of diabetes and state that satisfactory control “will generally be defined as a glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) level of less than 9.0% measured within the preceding three months”. The use of the term ‘generally’ is intended to allow medical practitioners to make their own clinical judgements on the ‘satisfactory control’ of diabetes on a case-by-case basis.
- ‘Satisfactory control’ of diabetes is required for a conditional licence to be considered by the driver licence authority.
- If you take medication for diabetes and you are a commercial driver, you must have an annual review by a specialist in endocrinology or diabetes to ensure you meet the specific criteria to hold a conditional licence.
- If you are a private driver and your diabetes is treated with insulin you must have a review at least every two years conducted by your usual medical practitioner.
These new medical standards have created some concerns and confusion for some people with diabetes. If you have concerns, please contact the NDSS Helpline on 1300 136 588.
If you have diabetes, you can hold a driver’s licence or learner permit as long as your diabetes is well controlled.
The main concern for licensing authorities is the possibility of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose while driving). Diabetes complications like eye problems are also of a concern as it affects your ability to drive safely.
Although there are uniform national ‘Fitness to Drive’ guidelines, all states have slightly different regulations and requirements to assess people with diabetes who wish to begin, or continue driving and intend to protect your safety and the safety of other drivers. The guidelines attempt to balance the safety of all concerned and any unfairness against people with diabetes.
For more information, refer to your local licensing agency for specific guidelines and the national guidelines for driving.
Obtaining a Licence
If you have diabetes, you need to provide a medical report before a driver’s licence or learner permit can be issued. This report should be from your treating doctor or diabetes specialist stating that a medical examination has been performed and you have been assessed as fit to drive.
Inform the Licensing Authorities
If you develop diabetes you must inform the Driver Licensing Authorities in your state or territory. In most cases if you manage your diabetes by insulin you will require a medical certificate every two years and if you manage it by tablet every five years. If you control your diabetes by diet and exercise alone you are still required to inform them. If you are required to notify the authorities but don’t, you could be charged with driving offences if you have a driving accident.
Informing Your Motor Vehicle Insurer
If you develop diabetes it is also advisable to inform your motor vehicle insurer.
If you don’t report your diabetes to your motor vehicle insurance company you may have problems with insurance claims.
Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) & Driving
Hypoglycaemia can impair your ability to drive safely. Ensure that you always have a carbohydrate snack available in your car. If you feel your blood glucose level is low, pull over immediately and stop your car. Do not restart your car until you have treated your hypoglycaemia and feel absolutely normal.
Diabetes Complications & Driving
If you have impaired vision, nerve damage or heart problems, talk with your doctor about the possible effects on your ability to drive safely.
Diabetes and Driving
It is a privilege to drive a motor vehicle and with it comes major personal and legal responsibilities and liabilities. Diabetes and Driving provides advice on the extra precautions needed to be taken to help maximise road safety.