Driving and Hypoglycemia


Have you ever driven while suspicious of having low blood sugar?  Have you ever thought you should stop and test but said to yourself, “I’ll test when I get to the next light” or “I’m almost there”?  Or do you always park the car, test, fix your low, and then be on your way?

How do we feel on this matter?  It’s an ethical one for sure.  What might make it awfully common is the fact that for a diabetic, lows are not once in a lifetime matters.  They happen plenty enough so that we don’t panic over many of them.  We might even classify them for our personalized experiences:

Class 1 Low

Just starting to feel low, around 60-65 when tested, energy level is still decent

Cass 2 Low

Feeling a bit shaky but not too bad.  About 55-60 when tested

Class 3 Low

Active insulin on board causing this to be a violent and sudden low.  These feel the worst for me.

Class 4 Low

Blood sugar in the 40’s also known as Eat. Sugar. Now.”

Class 5 Low

Sugar in the 20’s and 30’s. Red alert light beeping loudly in brain, heart feeling heavy and beating fast, and mixed in is a feeling of <yawwnn> “I’m so sleepy…”

(Please note the above is MY classification, it may not be how lows feel for YOU)

Since I am most often dealing with Class 1 and 2 lows, I will often test at a light or a gas station or parking lot, intake sugar (as long as I don’t have active insulin) and as long as I feel ok then continue on my way.

I’m thinking I should instead stop the car somewhere safe and only attempt moving it again once a blood test confirms an adequate blood sugar level for driving.  Inconvenient, yes, but what would you say this is:

A type 1 diabetic woman once told me about how one time she felt funny while driving and decided to ignore it because the kids were screaming in the back seat and she was in a hurry.  Next thing she knew she was being helped by paramedics after having crashed her car.  They tested her sugar to be 43.  She and her kids were fine but she said she learned her lesson.  As we all should before something happens…

What do you do when you’re driving and feel low? 

And do you classify your types of lows?

6 thoughts on “Driving and Hypoglycemia

  1. Melissa E

    I usually check before I drive, but I have treated a 50 in a parking lot and not waited until it got higher before driving home. Maybe I should think twice about that! I do classify my lows too, mine are similar to your classifications. Except, my 20’s to 30’s goes something like this in my head…”i need to test, I know I am low…nah, I will test in a minute, but a I need to test now, I know I am low…just another minute….” and so on and so forth. When I battle with myself about testing, that’s when I know I am really low.

  2. Sysy Post author

    Melissa, that is so true about what you think when you’re really low! When I find myself a little too slow to act I suspect my blood sugar is really off.

  3. Jen

    I always test before getting behind the wheel.

    I thought I read somewhere that you should be above 100 before driving?
    Maybe I read it in an article in Diabetes Forcast???

    I also don’t think I’ve ever gotten below 60 (except for one time when I was 10 and remember waking up in an ambulance).
    I always imagined I’d die or pass out if I got below 60!

    I don’t go low often…because of my crazy fears of going low…which explains my awful a1c right now.
    I’m working on it with my dr. and hope to bring it down so I can get pregnant within the next 2 years.

    Your blog has been a real encouragement to me!

  4. Sysy Post author


    Lows are scary. I have never passed out from one and I think that is why I’m not very afraid of them, which is probably not a good thing.

    Testing before driving is a great thing to do. I always test before driving my kids somewhere but, I should get in the habit of doing it no matter what. I would accept an 80 before driving only if I haven’t had some fast acting in the past two hours. And I guess another issue is always driving with something to treat lows with in the vehicle. I forgot to mention that, lol.

    Anyway, thanks so much for your comment and good luck with improving your A1c ;)

  5. Reyna

    THIS SCARES THE BEJEEZUS OUTTA ME! I swear having Joe as my son is going to drive me to an early grave. :)

    I think driving and “D”, alcohol and “D”, and psycho-social wellbeing and “D” are the three hot topics that make me uneasy.

    GREAT POST Sysy. Thank you.

  6. Sysy Post author

    Let’s hope he retains his ability to feel lows forever because I think that is what would scare me, in particular, about driving and diabetes. Statistically speaking, chances are very good he will feel lows :)

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