New wording to clarify guidelines relating to diabetes

Amendments made to driver medical standards to clarify guidelines relating to satisfactory control of diabetes

June 3, 2013

Amendments have been made to driver medical standards to clarify the guidelines relating to satisfactory control of diabetes.

The National Transport Commission (NTC) says the change is designed to make sure the guidelines are clearly understood.

A person who has insulin-treated diabetes can drive under a conditional private driver licence if his or her diabetes is ‘satisfactorily controlled’. However, there was previously no wording to clarify what ‘satisfactorily controlled’ meant.

Following feedback from stakeholders, the NTC has now inserted additional wording to clarify the phrase.

"A (glycated haemoglobin) HbA1c level of 9.0% or higher should usually trigger a formal consultation and assessment by a specialist or clinician experienced in the management of diabetes, in order to assess fitness to drive," the wording states.

The NTC says it worked closely with the Australian Diabetes Society in making the revision, which was approved by state and territory transport departments and roads authorities.

"The purpose of the guidelines surrounding a driver’s satisfactory control of their diabetes is to indicate whether the driver needs further assessment to determine their fitness to drive," NTC Project Director Dr Jeff Potter says.

"It is not an absolute requirement for holding a driver’s licence."

Contained in the Assessing Fitness to Drive document, the medical standards came into force in March last year after consultation with medical experts.

The role of Assessing Fitness to Drive is to provide guidance to medical professionals and driver licensing authorities in establishing fitness to drive for private and commercial drivers.

Assessing Fitness to Drive also includes an increased focus on severe hypoglycaemic events and lack of hypoglycaemia awareness as particular risks to driving, with guidance regarding recognition and management.

"It is important to remember that the guidelines are designed to allow medical practitioners to make their own clinical judgements as to whether drivers are satisfactorily controlling their diabetes on a case-by-case basis," Potter says.

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