CGM and mobile phones whilst driving

A continuous glucose monitor is a small device that checks blood glucose levels every 5 minutes or so, day and night.  The receiver can sound alarms to let the wearer know if blood glucose levels drop dangerously low or if they shoot up too high. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) will help the person with diabetes, their carer or healthcare professional gain insight into the trends and patterns of their blood glucose levels (BGLs).

CGM is now available free of charge to persons with (type 1) diabetes under the age of 21, through the NDSS and is available at a cost to all other people living with diabetes.

CGM and Mobile phones

Some CGM systems use a particular receiver or “talk” directly to an insulin pump, others can be viewed through an app on a smart phone.  Some systems can even have “followers”, this may be a parents or partners who also receive the data on their mobile device, irrespective of where they may find themselves in the world in relation to the person with the CGM.

Flash Glucose Monitoring (FGM) is a similar system that involves a sensor being inserted into the subcutaneous tissue, which checks the glucose levels day and night and eliminates the need for finger pricking. The FGM system available at this time does not have alarms and is not currently subsidized, but is a system that will eliminate the need for finger pricking.  FGM is now also available to be used with an app on your mobile device.

New Laws on mobile phone use

From 17 Septemeber 2018 there are tougher laws on the use of mobile phones whilst driving a vehicle. Anyone caught using their mobile phone whilst driving in NSW will cop 5 demerit points instead of 4.

Most drivers can use their mobile phone to make or receive calls, listen to music or check on their BGLs if their phone is in a cradle, doesn’t obscure the view of the road and can be operated without touching and part of the phone.  P1 and P2 license holders in NSW are not permitted to use mobile phones at all whilst driving.  This means that if you get caught touching your mobile on a long weekend, when double demerit points are in force, you could lose your license!  Texting, emailing, social media and photography are all prohibited unless a vehicle is parked out of traffic.

Did you know that simply taking your eyes of the road for more than 2 seconds doubles the risk of a crash?

 According to the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), if you look at your phone whilst driving for just 2 seconds you will travel 33 meters blind! This means that anyone using their mobile phone to check on BGLs could get in trouble!

How this may impact you?

If you have diabetes you can hold a driver’s licence or learning permit provided your diabetes is well managed.  It is recommended to check your BGL before driving to ensure it’s not below 5 mmol/L before you drive (see: Diabetes and Driving booklet).

People with diabetes using devices that require one to check their mobile phone will have to be aware of Australian Laws and only use these devices as outlined by law.  This means that if you are driving a vehicle and need to check your BGL on your mobile device you will:

  1. need to pull over
  2. turn off the ignition
  3. before touching your phone.

Never check your BGL whilst operating a vehicle!

 Hypoglycaemia

If you suspect a hypo (or receive a hypo alert) you will need to pull over safely, eat something sweet (at least 15g of glucose, like some jelly beans, a popper juice, half a can of regular cola) to treat the hypo and follow this up with longer-acting carbohydrate (like a slice of bread, piece of fruit, biscuit).

Although you may feel better after a few minutes, it will take your brain some time to get fully back “online” and so you should wait half an hour after your BGL is back above 5 before continuing on your journey.  Double check your BGL before starting the ignition again to make sure it has not dropped back down.

It is recommended to check BGLs every 2 hours during driving, to make sure it remains above 5.  You can ask a passenger to check your levels on your CGM and report this to you, but if this is not an option you should pull over before checking.  This will not only ensure your safety, but also that of those around you.  It is always better to get there a few minutes later, than not at all.

Hyperglycaemia

High blood glucose levels can result in tiredness, blurred vision and altered decision making and hence hyperglycaemia can also impact on driving.  You should not drive if you are unwell or feel fatigued as this increases the risk of you falling asleep or losing concentration behind the wheel.

Other considerations:
  • In the unfortunate event that you have a car accident as a result of a diabetic episode you must notify Roads and Maritime Service.
  • Loading and unloading a car as well as changing a wheel is physical activity and can affect your BGL. Check, check check!
  • It is perhaps a good idea to wear some sort of identification that gives your name and details of your diabetes treatment

Drive safely!

For more information visit the Centre for Road Safety

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