Drivers with diabetes 'will no longer lose licences unfairly'


Drivers with diabetes will no longer lose their licences "unfairly" after changes to European driving laws, a charity has said.

Diabetes UK has welcomed changes to the rules which previously saw a number of people with the condition lose their licence "unnecessarily".

It said that European laws introduced in 2011 meant that drivers who treat their diabetes with insulin who have had one or more episodes of severe hypoglycaemia, known as "hypos", could face losing their licences.

If sufferers had one or more episodes of severe hypoglycaemia - which is when a patient's blood sugars drop to dangerously low levels - and required assistance from another person, they would have to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

But the charity said that the DVLA does not currently differentiate between daytime and night-time episodes of hypoglycaemia, meaning that some people with diabetes are losing their driving licence unnecessarily.

After a review of evidence, the European Commission has said that the driving ban for people experiencing recurrent severe hypoglycaemia when asleep should be lifted. The charity said the DVLA will be asked to make the changes by 2018.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "The European Commission is absolutely right to ask the DVLA to overturn the ban on night-time hypos, and we are delighted this is happening having campaigned for five years now to get this ban lifted and put a stop to some people with diabetes losing their driving licence unfairly.

"Beyond the unfairness, losing their driving licence has caused people all sorts of unnecessary stress and anxiety, even in some cases leading to people losing their jobs.

"It is, of course, absolutely imperative that we ensure everyone on our roads is healthy and safe to drive. But this must be done in a way that is fair, and not to the detriment of drivers with diabetes who are currently unfairly penalised."

A DVLA spokesman said: "Safety is our top priority and we always want to make sure that people are safe to drive when we issue a licence.

"While hypoglycaemia can pose a risk to road safety, there are some people who only suffer episodes of hypoglycaemia while asleep, and under the current EU rules they would not be able to drive.

"These changes will mean that licensing can be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on medical evidence and risk assessments. We have worked with the EU to introduce this common-sense approach."