Driving for Type 1 Diabetic TeensA simplified checklist to prepare
Driving for Type 1 Diabetic Teens
Driving for Type 1 Diabetic Teens can be one of the first steps to independence. Although fun for the teen, it can actually be quite frightening for a parent. That fear can be minimized with some planning well in advance. State Driving Laws protect the general public not necessarily the one with a disability. It is important for driving teens to know that having Type 1 requires a much greater sense of responsibility.
Learning to Drive for Type 1 Diabetic Teens
Obtaining a driver's license and independence can be motivating to a Type 1 Diabetic Teen. It takes team work to prepare a plan to ensure your teen is ready for this responsibility. It is a much a greater responsibility for a Type 1 teen because diabetes management is important to be able to obtain and keep a driver's license.
Driving is a privilege and not a right
Discussions with your teen should include that driving is a privilege and not a right. In fact, the whole driving system is designed to protect others. So let's just emphasize that one more time “Driving is a privilege and not a right”.
This is the Adult World
In the school world, parents advocate for their teens with 504 plans, equal opportunities and the prevention of discrimination in regards to Type 1 Diabetes. However, this may be your teen's first adventure into the adult world where having a disability does not necessarily protect them as it has in the school system. Again, the driving system is designed to protect others so being in excellent driving health is one of the requirements.
Discussions should start at age 14
Wow! Why so early? Teens apply for their Driver's Permit at age 15. Yes, They will be behind the wheel of a car at age 15. During the teen years, a T1 might not be managing their diabetes as well.This might be due to burnout, peer pressure or in some cases depression. However, the previous year's management at age 14 is important during the application process. This would be a great time to discuss why good diabetes management is important.
Should you tell them about the diabetes???
The answer to that is YES! When filling out a Driver's License Application, you should always be truthful. It varies by state on the wording but they will more than likely ask a question regarding one of the aspects of having diabetes. And they may ask about the previous year's health conditions like hospitalizations.
(This is why you start talking about it at age 14.)
Review the application
Take the time to review the Driver's License Application well in advance. It should be available online. Review it with your Teen so that they can also see the questions. In some states, you may have to obtain a medical clearance. Be prepared to address these issues far enough in advance if you should need additional paperwork.
Talk about the bad stuff
Review the Medical Review process if the license is revoked due to incidents behind the wheel with diabetes. Do your teen a favor by showing them the responsibility of keeping a license. Losing a license and going before the Medical Review Board takes time and can be costly with attorney's fees. This is likely your teen's first trip into the adult world living with diabetes. It is better for them to learn this now as a teen rather than later when there is more at stake.