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Behind the Wheel with Diabetes

Today we’d like to welcome Senior Diabetes Clinical Manager, Certified Diabetes Educator, and Registered Dietitian, Donna Murray. Donna worked in various Dietitian roles for over 18 years, wrote nutrition articles for Livestrong, and started her own nutrition website Inside Out Nutritional Health before beginning her career at Medtronic Diabetes. She lives by the mantra “diabetes and nutrition walk hand-in-hand”, and has made it her life-goal to help others achieve optimal health. Today, Donna shares five tips for driving safety with diabetes.

Living in the 21st century means we drive everywhere! But what does driving mean to you? In today’s world of rushing to your next doctor’s appointment, going to work or school, or picking up the kids after school, driving is how we get there. Like voting or going to college, driving is a privilege. Have you ever stopped to think about, not only what you have to do to earn a driver’s license when you have diabetes, but also what you must do to ensure you don’t have your driving privilege taken away?

Each state uses its own criteria to grant the privilege of driving when you have diabetes. However, the one common thread is a history of hypoglycemic events. Not only does hypoglycemia affect your cognitive ability, but also your motor and perceptual function. A low blood glucose can make you think like a slug, unable to be alert and respond to unexpected traffic decisions behind the wheel. Here are five safety tips before getting behind the wheel.

1. Check your Blood Glucose Before Getting Behind the Wheel

Make sure your blood glucose is in range before driving. This is critical, especially if you suspect a possible low during a short drive.

2. On Long Drives, Pull Over and Check Your Glucose Levels

During a long drive, pull over every one to two hours to check your glucose. A CGM can help keep you informed on the trend, prediction, and direction of your glucose levels every five minutes, but it is still important to pull over to test. With MiniMed 530G with Enlite, you even have predictive alerts that tell you of an oncoming low. When you hear those three tones descending, you know it’s time to pull over to check your glucose. If you have decreased awareness of lows, then you may want to pull over and test more frequently. If it becomes difficult to see, or you start to feel symptoms of a low, pull over to a safe spot as soon as you can, test your blood glucose, and treat immediately. Wait 15 minutes, test again, and ensure your blood glucose and cognition have recovered before you resume driving.

3. Carry Plenty of Fast-Acting Carbohydrates

Keep plenty of fast acting carbohydrates close-at-hand, such as glucose tablets and gels, hard candies like Skittles, 6 ounces of juice, or regular soda. The common theme is pure sugar in your pocket, the side panel of the car door and on the console!

4. Pack Your Own Snacks

Snacks, or small mini-meals, are best for glycemic control when they contain a combination of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Here are a few examples: half turkey sandwich, trail mix consisting of almonds and peanuts, apple with peanut butter, precut vegetables with string cheese, a vanilla whey protein shake, and a pre-peeled hard-boiled egg with apple slices.

5. Map Out Restaurants and Rest Stops

If you have a programmable GPS system in your vehicle, prior to pulling out of the driveway, bring up and mark restaurants and rest areas along your route. You could also do this from your computer at home. If you forgot to plan ahead and have a smartphone, check out apps that allow you to search for anything – restaurants, gas stations, fast food, you name it, that’s near your current location. It’s always a good idea to keep an old-fashioned Highway guide in your vehicle that identifies rest areas and exits with food services.

Prevent and treat lows to avoid the derailing pitfalls of severe hypoglycemia behind the wheel! What are other safety measures you take to avoid and treat hypoglycemia while driving?


Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is intended for the delivery of insulin and continuous glucose monitoring for the management of diabetes mellitus by persons 16 years of age or older who require insulin.

Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day. Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. MiniMed 530G with Enlite is not intended to be used directly for preventing or treating hypoglycemia but to suspend insulin delivery when the user is unable to respond to the Threshold Suspend alarm and take measures to prevent or treat hypoglycemia themselves.

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WARNING: The Threshold Suspend feature will cause the pump to temporarily suspend insulin delivery for two hours when the sensor glucose reaches a set threshold. Under some conditions of use the pump can suspend again resulting in very limited insulin delivery. Prolonged suspension can increase the risk of serious hyperglycemia, ketosis, and ketoacidosis. Before using the Threshold Suspend feature, it is important to read the Threshold Suspend information in the MiniMed 530G System User Guide and discuss proper use of the Threshold Suspend feature with your healthcare provider.

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