While diabetes is no longer a complete bar to commercial driving, it is a big obstacle to overcome. In 2005, drivers with diabetes were only allowed to operate commercial interstate trucks if they can prove they are able to maintain stable blood sugar levels. To overcome this hurdle, truckers should incorporate healthy lifestyle tips into their daily routine and contact support groups. Moreover, drivers should get regular health screenings, such as at truck stops and Walgreens. Failure to manage diabetes may result in serious health consequences, including the end of a career as a truck driver.
In the past, drivers with diabetes could apply for a special program called the “Diabetes Exemption Program,” but that was not needed in 2018. The medical examiner will assess the driver’s health condition and determine if he or she is fit to operate a commercial motor vehicle. However, truckers must prove that their diabetes is under control and that their blood sugar level is below 8%. The normal range for blood sugar levels is 5.7%. Between 5.7% and 6.4% is considered pre-diabetes. This can cause complications when driving a truck, and it is imperative to carry all necessary supplies.
What Percentage of Truck Drivers are Diabetic?
A recent study by diabetes management company TrueLifeCare estimates that 500,000 truck drivers are diabetic in the United States. Compared to the national average, truck drivers have a 50 percent higher diabetes rate. Unfortunately, only about 25 percent of drivers regularly test their blood sugar levels. The disease results from an impaired response to insulin, an abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates, and high glucose levels. While the cause of diabetes is unclear, it can affect the health of drivers and cause a number of crashes.
Despite the alarming numbers, the fact is that more people are being diagnosed with diabetes every day. That means that 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year alone. While most Americans aren’t facing a potential loss of their jobs as a result of diabetes, there is no reason to be embarrassed by the diagnosis. Before 2003, diabetics were not allowed to drive a commercial vehicle. Luckily, today they may qualify for an exemption. Diabetes management is easier when you have healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and a clear focus on health.
How Do Truck Drivers Manage Diabetes?
How do truck drivers manage their diabetes? They need to make healthy decisions on the road, such as avoiding sugary foods and beverages and packing simple snacks and fruits. A healthy diet is important to prevent hypoglycemia, which can cause weakness, shakiness, headache, blurred vision, tingling, numbness, and other symptoms. Drivers should talk to their doctor and use the right technologies to manage their condition. They should also have a plan and stick to it.
The risk of diabetes is higher among truck drivers because of the long travels and high levels of stress. According to one study, diabetes affects truck drivers 50% higher than the average population. Although diabetes affects 9.4% of the population, truck drivers have a 50 percent higher rate. In addition to that, truckers have higher rates of obesity than the national average. Managing diabetes requires special attention and management to reduce the risks and complications of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body doesn’t properly utilize the insulin produced by the pancreas.
Can I Pass a DOT Physical with Diabetes?
For the DOT physical, you must meet all medical requirements, including having normal blood sugar levels. Those with Type 2 diabetes can qualify for a medical certification, provided their blood sugar levels are in control. Those with Type 1 diabetes who don’t require insulin can pass the exam by following a simple diet and exercise plan. However, if you use insulin or are in the process of doing so, you must obtain a DOT medical certification.
A DOT physical will also test for hemoglobin A1c levels. This measurement indicates the amount of glucose in your blood, and if your blood glucose levels are higher than the required level, you may need further testing or monitoring. However, if you are in the 8% range, you will not be disqualified, but the medical examiner may want you to continue monitoring your glucose levels and make lifestyle changes to improve your health.
Can Commercial Truck Drivers Use Insulin?
The FMCSA recently announced the immediate end of an exemption process for diabetic commercial truck and bus drivers. This means that all current diabetic drivers will have to renew their medical cards or get a green light from an agency-certified medical examiner to be allowed to use insulin while driving. The exemption process will remain in place for drivers with epilepsy, seizures, hearing, and vision disorders. Drivers with other medical conditions will also continue to be exempt from the rule.
Although insulin use is no longer a complete barrier for commercial truck drivers, the long hours and high temperature of driving make it difficult to control blood sugars. Commercial truck drivers with diabetes must show that their blood glucose levels are stable. While it is a daunting task for people without diabetes, it is virtually impossible for truckers. According to Milam, who spoke with the Fleet Owner about his diabetes condition, insulin use is a permanent part of the disease and has no cure. Getting an exemption to use insulin can take months.
Does Diabetes Disqualify You From CDL?
A diagnosis of diabetes does not necessarily disqualify you from obtaining a CDL. It may lead to other complications, such as peripheral neuropathy, which impairs the senses, particularly in the hands and feet. According to Kay Pfeiffer, vice president of diabetes management company TrueLifeCare, truck drivers have higher rates of diabetes than the national average. According to her, this is because truck drivers’ sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits contribute to diabetes.
While Type 1 and Type 2 people must meet additional requirements for obtaining their CDL, those with diabetes can still pursue their career as a commercial driver. In fact, the FMCSA recently made a ruling to support people with diabetes who want to get their CDLs. People with type 2 diabetes who do not use insulin do not need an exemption for driving. The FMCSA rule also stipulates that people with diabetes must follow state guidelines when they operate a commercial motor vehicle.
A DOT physical will look for symptoms of diabetes. If they detect any, the examiner may suggest further investigation. Symptoms of diabetes include excessive hunger, seizures, and fatigue. During the physical, your healthcare provider will examine your A1C level. If the level of glucose is seven to ten percent for more than two months, you are considered medically fit to drive. If it is higher than seven percent, the DOT will suspend your license.
Why Do Truck Drivers Get Diabetes?
One major factor in diabetes driving is financial risk. Truck drivers are compensated for their specialized occupational skill sets. They may face a financial burden when attempting to initiate insulin therapy, especially if their employers require them to carry insurance. Additionally, drivers may be unwilling to take time off work to undergo diabetes treatment. Therefore, many are reluctant to seek medical treatment or use insulin. In addition, many have debt issues that complicate treatment.
The lifestyles of truck drivers are notoriously unhealthy. Most of them spend long hours at a time sitting in a vehicle, eating a lot of unhealthy food, and not getting enough sleep. As a result, truckers have a 50% greater risk of developing diabetes than the general population. According to a survey by the FMCSA in 2010, more than half of long-haul truck drivers suffer from diabetes. Moreover, obese truck drivers are twice as likely to develop diabetes as the general population.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, all drivers must pass periodic medical examinations. They must carry health cards showing that they have passed those exams. However, studies in the United States and Hong Kong have shown that drivers with diabetes are eight times more likely to have a fatal crash than those without diabetes. In addition, diabetes has been linked to hypertension and obesity. But what is the most effective way to identify drivers who are at risk for diabetes?
What is an Insulin Waiver?
A 46-year-old man with Type 2 diabetes needed a little help to control his disease. A pilot’s insulin waiver came in handy. When his A1C was over 10 he was pulled off the road and had to take a crash course on diabetes management. After getting his insulin waiver, he was back on the road in no time! He had to be re-educated about diabetes and get his A1C under 10 in as short a time as possible.
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