Diabetic drivers need to be careful - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Diabetic drivers need to be careful

August 6, 2007

Albany -- Millions of people live with diabetes, and most of them can control the illness.

But symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, and loss of consciousness can be dangerous, especially if you're behind the wheel of a car.

In 2004 former U.S. Congressmen Bill Janklow of South Dakota ran a stop sign just moments before a motorcycle plowed into his vehicle, killing the motorcyclists. Janklow, who was ordered to serve 100 days in jail, claimed he had a diabetic reaction that contributed to the crash.

Statistics show that drivers with type 1 diabetes are more likely to be involved in crashes, and while there are no laws that say a diabetic can't operate a vehicle, there are certain risk factors that diabetic drivers should be aware of.

"Most people are shaky, sweaty, they have a lot of fatigue and weakness. Some people say they're about to pass out," says Daphne Courts, RN with Palmyra Diabetes Education.

Symptoms that if experienced behind the wheel of a car could be dangerous on the roadway.

"A diabetic knows they're a diabetic. They know they need take their medication because you need to make sure you're a safe driver on the roadway and it's our job to make sure that you're driving safely," says Lt. T.S. Jackson of the Dougherty County Police Department.

There are millions of drivers on Georgia roadways everyday, many them are diabetics. In the past eight years the number of cases of diabetes in Georgia has risen 133%, and in Dougherty County those numbers are even more shocking.

"In Dougherty county and the surrounding counties where we are right now, 33% of the population has been diagnosed with diabetes," says Courts.

While medical experts say most diabetics follow medical instructions, it is still recommended that the person carry glucose gels and tablets, as well as a medical bracelet.

Definitely if you're a diabetic, check your blood sugar before you get out on the road, operate heavy machinery, or do anything where you're required to operate something."

Life saving advice that could prevent injury or death on the road. More than 21 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes.

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