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A diagnosis of diabetes can be a worrying thing particularly if you think it might affect your ability to get away in your beloved motorhome. Getting out on the open road and exploring new places is a highlight of many people’s lives. It would be a huge disappointment if this was to be restricted due to health issues.

If this applies to you then don’t despair. Most people with diabetes can hold a driving licence and can carry on driving their motorhome without any problems. However, it’s still vital you follow the guidelines on what to do if you’ve diabetes and want to drive a motorhome. Read on for our tips on how to keep travelling, whatever life throws at you.

Remember, with a Motorhome Protect policy if you break down or have an accident, your motorhome insurance is your first port of call. So, always have your vehicle cover in place before heading out.


How diabetes can affect driving

Diabetes can affect motorhome drivers in one of two main ways. The first concerns what diabetes treatments you’re taking as some will leave you at risk of having a hypo. A hypo is where your blood sugar drops below 4mmol/l and can leave you shaky, disoriented and unfit to drive.

The second concerns health complications arising from diabetes that affect your driving. These include eyesight problems, nerve damage and heart complications.

If you’re affected by either of these then it’s vital you let the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) know.

Certain rules apply to those who have diabetes and who suffer from these effects. If you want to drive a motorhome under 3.5 tonnes then there are one set of rules. However, if you want to drive a larger vehicle then there are stricter and more complicated rules to follow.

Diabetic equiment for testing blood sugar levels and medication bottles

Driving and diabetes treatments

The full name for a hypo is hypoglycaemia. People who take certain types of medicine to treat their diabetes can have incidents of low blood sugar and can suffer from hypos.

They can even suffer severe hypos where they’re unable to treat themselves and need help. Severe hypos can lead to unconsciousness.

Based on what treatment you are undergoing, there are different rules that affect your driving licence. Insulin, temporary insulin for less than 3 months, and other medications that can risk hypos – such as sulphonylureas – all require you to follow certain guidelines regarding informing the DVLA and the need to check your blood sugar levels.


How to check if you’re at risk of a hypo

You are at risk of low blood sugar if the balance of diabetes medication, food and exercise you do isn’t right. It’s important to realise not everyone with diabetes will have hypos.

However, because a hypo can happen quickly it’s crucial you and fellow passengers know what the signs are and what to do if a hypo occurs.

Following this procedure every time you get behind the wheel of your motorhome will help guard against a hypo.

  • Know the symptoms. There’s a variety of different symptoms you need to watch for if you might be driving. The NHS says that common symptoms include: sweating, feeling tired, dizziness, feeling hungry, tingling lips, feeling shaky or trembling, a fast or pounding heartbeat, and becoming irritated, tearful, anxious or moody.
  • Keep spare blood sugar test strips in the motorhome and bring your blood sugar meter with you even on short trips.
  • Check your blood sugar levels before you set off.
  • Five to drive – Your blood sugars have to be 5mmol/l or above before you drive. If they’re between 4mmol/l and 5mmol/l, eat some carbohydrates. Raid your camping stores if needs be.
  • If you’re below 4mmol/l – Treat your hypo and wait until your levels reach 5mmol/l. Leave 45 minutes before you drive.
  • Always bring hypo treatments in the motorhome. Make sure they’re easy to reach.
  • Take a break if it’s a long journey. A great excuse to park up in an interesting spot.
  • Check your blood sugar levels every two hours.
  • Have regular meals or snacks.

If you want to drive a large motorhome over 3.5 tonnes then the rules are more complicated. Check the rules on the Diabetes UK website.

If you decide to invest in a larger motorhome then make sure you contact your motorhome insurance provider to check you have the correct cover.


What to do if you have a hypo behind the wheel

No matter how careful you’ve been it’s still possible to have a hypo while you’re driving. Here’s the procedure to follow:

  • Pull over safely – As soon as you feel the symptoms of a hypo then choose a safe place to pull over as soon as possible.
  • Switch off the engine – Take the keys out of the ignition and try to move to the passenger seat or into the living quarters.
  • Take some fast-acting carbs like glucose tablets followed by some longer-acting carbs like plain biscuits.
  • After your blood sugar level has returned to normal, wait another 45 minutes before continuing your journey.

While you only need to tell the DVLA if you have a severe hypo you should talk to your doctor if you’re struggling with the effects of diabetes.

A woman driving a motorhome on a motorway on a sunny day

Eye problems and other complications

Unfortunately, it’s not just hypos that can cause a risk to driving if you have diabetes.

  • Retinopathy - More common in people with diabetes, retinopathy is damage to the blood vessels in the eye. It can lead to sight loss so you need to inform the DVLA if you start to experience eye problems.
  • Neuropathy – Damage to your nerves can cause you to lose feeling in your hands and feet.


Motorhome insurance to keep you safe and secure

Owning a motorhome is a great way to get out and about and forget about the worries of everyday life. Our team of insurance experts know this and will make arranging a motorhome insurance policy as easy and straightforward as possible.

Our policies can include a range of benefits such as unlimited mileage cover.

Get a quick quote from Motorhome Protect today.

Policy benefits and features offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.