There has long been association with diabetes and the inability to drive, in the eyes of the law. Diabetes is treated much like a disability and the laws of the road see it very much in that way. However, being diagnosed doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot drive. There are millions of diabetics on our roads that drive without any problems. However, new EU directive looks set to change the way that the law decides if diabetics should be allowed on the road.
Major diabetes organisation Diabetes UK opposes the changes strongly and has made an appeal for the decision to be revoked. The Department of Transport are due to introduce the legislation in early October and it is expected that over 1 million drivers could be taken off the roads. People diagnosed with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes will be subject to strict decisions on whether they are deemed safe to be on the road.
There are already several laws surrounding diabetic drivers. At present, anyone that treats diabetes with insulin will not be allowed to drive heavy goods vehicles, a decision that has caused a great deal of controversy. There have been countless campaigns for the Department of Transport to review the legislation, but the latest twist only means that it is getting tougher for diabetic drivers to obtain a license. The law doesn’t take into account that the severity of diabetes that people encounter varies hugely from case to case. Some people are at risk of backing out regularly, whilst others simply aren’t.
The new rules state that people who suffer from two or more hypos (hypoglycaemia episodes) will not be able to obtain a driving license. Until now, the law has defined hypos as episodes where the diabetes sufferer requires assistance form another person (for example, administering carbohydrates), but only during the waking hours. The new definition includes episodes that happen nocturnally.
The new rulings will mean that a substantial number of people that have driven on Britain’s roads safely for several years will be taken off the road. Obviously, this will have a noticeable knock-on affect and will drastically affect the lives of many people. Some people rely on driving for their livelihood, and with this taken away, they could end up having to look for new employment. The debate continues.
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