HC Deb 24 November 1999 vol 339 cc145-6W
Mr. Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what evidence the Government have based their conclusion that drivers using insulin are less safe than others. [98828]

Mr. Hill

[holding answer 22 November 1999]: I have been asked to reply.

The driving licence treatment of those with diabetes treated by insulin is based primarily on European legislation—the Second Driving Licence Directive (91/439/EEC). This provided for licensing restrictions on those with insulin-treated diabetes, in particular in respect of driving heavier vehicles, based on risks associated with insulin treatment. This can lead to a hypoglycaemic attack which in turn can lead to loss of consciousness without warning. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency receive information from the police and other sources each month, about, on average, 10 collapses at the wheel attributable to a hypoglycaemic attack. The Advisory Panel on Diabetes and Driving have indicated that the risk of loss of consciousness without warning in any one individual cannot be predicted. They have therefore consistently advised against granting licences to drive the largest vehicles to insulin-treated diabetics. There has been a bar on granting licences to drive large lorries and buses since 1991; this bar was extended to small lorries and minibuses in 1997 on implementation of the Second Driving Licence Directive, as a result of aligning the licensing of such vehicles with the requirements of the Directive.