Does the thought of your child behind the wheel drive you nuts? Rev up the safety factor by creating a driving contract for your child with diabetes.
Due to inexperience, teens are already at risk as drivers. But when you add diabetes to the mix, there are additional reasons to be cautious. Low blood sugar can impair judgement and reflexes in the same way as alcohol or drug use. Symptoms may include dizziness, blurred vision, shakiness, confusion and even loss of consciousness.
Laws regarding driving and diabetes vary from state to state. In Ohio, the driver’s license application asks applicants whether they’re “now suffering from any physical or mental disability or disease and, if so, the nature and extent of the disability or disease.” Applicants who answer yes are required to have their doctor complete a medical evaluation form, which includes the physician’s professional opinion on an applicant’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
Keeping your kids safe is not only for their benefit; it also keeps the public safe. Tell your teen that keeping her blood sugar levels in check is like wearing a seat belt to keep her body intact. Acknowledge that pulling over to check or treat blood sugar levels may not feel “cool,” but it’s necessary.
How do you make sure your teen follows all the rules regarding driving and diabetes management? You might want to draw up a contract between you and your child. When a contract exists, teens are more apt be take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions. A contract also can clarify expectations and eliminate misunderstandings right from the start.
To obtain a signed driver’s form from the Diabetes Team at Akron Children’s Hospital, please take the following steps:
- Discuss your child’s interest in driving with your healthcare provider.
- Have your child sign a new driving contract every year.
- Sign a medical release of information form, as required by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).
- Either mail or bring in the original BMV form to the doctor’s office.
- Once the requirements are met and a healthcare provider approves your child’s ability to drive, please allow 10 days to complete paperwork. Since Akron Children’s does not mail forms directly to the BMV, please indicate whether you’ll pick up the forms or would like them mailed to you.
Sample Driving Contract
Your Diabetes Team at Akron Children’s has developed the contract below for your use.
By signing below, you agree to do the following:
- Test your blood sugar 4 times per day AND before getting behind the wheel. If your blood sugar is less than 100mg/dl, you will have a small snack before driving.
- Take insulin as prescribed.
- Have something in your car within reach to eat (e.g. glucose tabs or glucose gel) in case you feel low.
- Pull over immediately to test yourself if you feel low. If you’re less than 70mg/dl, eat and do not resume driving until 30 minutes after your blood sugar has returned to greater than 100mg/dl.
- On long trips, test your blood sugar every 2 to 3 hours and do not miss your regular meals or snacks.
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Obey traffic laws.
Driver’s signature: ________________________________________________________________________________
Parent signature(s): ________________________________________________________________________________
You may want to add other elements to your contract, such as requirements regarding:
- Limiting the number of passengers allowed in the car
- Informing parents of whereabouts
- Refraining from texting and making phone calls while driving
- Abstaining from drugs or alcohol – especially before driving
If your teen drives safely without tickets or accidents for an extended period of time, consider rewarding her. The privilege of driving can be an exciting life event for both you and your child.
For additional information about diabetes, visit Akron Children’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.