April 11 , 2007. 3:00-4:30pm. Porter Hall 223D, Carnegie Mellon University

Risks of Diabetes and Driving

Presenter: Tom Songer, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health

Abstract:
Extensive debate exists over the most appropriate approach to license commercial drivers with diabetes.  Studies focused on automobiles highlight a slightly higher involvement of drivers with diabetes in motor vehicle accidents.  Risk factors for crashes in persons with diabetes, though, are not well defined.  Screening tools to identify those at greater risk for crash would be helpful, and strenuously debated, in occupational settings.

This presentation will highlight the current arguments surrounding the risks related to motor vehicle operation by persons with diabetes and possible approaches for dealing with it.  Data will illustrate overall crash risks for diabetic drivers compared to drivers free of diabetes, and risk heterogeneity within persons with diabetes.  Results indicate that reported crashes decline with age in persons with and without diabetes, but crash risk remains higher for persons with diabetes throughout the age span.  Severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) resulting in a loss of consciousness remains an important variable associated with crash at all ages.  However, health status, which deteriorates with age in persons with diabetes, is not linked to motor vehicle crashes.  Current diabetes treatment patterns were also not a meaningful predictor of motor vehicle crashes.  The presentation will conclude with a look at adaptative measures in driving adopted by persons with diabetes and their possible role in licensing policy.