Program helps keep diabetic teen drivers safe

April 15, 2012 6:58:43 AM PDT
Remember your excitement when you first got your driver's license? You were warned about driving safely, but for teenagers with diabetes, there is more to be concerned about.

Teens with diabetes should have no problem getting their license. What can be challenging is making sure they manage their conditions.

"My parents were mainly worried about ?my diabetes and stuff when I got behind the wheel, and I told them that I just checked before I drove, and I'd be fine. And they said OK, and then they trusted me," said teen driver Nick Hooten, 17.

"I always test before I drive, and if I am not feeling good, I always stop the car and pull over," said Katie Chorley, also 17 years old.

Both teens have type 1 diabetes and have been driving for almost two years. They say they understand that safety involves both being behind the wheel and their blood sugar levels.

Knowing the significance of driving with diabetes, there is something called the Check B4U Drive program.

Mark Lippes is the program representative.

"We have a one day mini-camp, and it's free to the kids," Lippes said. "We have a diabetic educator that comes in, and we talk to the kids about their diabetes. And it's networking for the kids because they met kids throughout the area, and they tell stories about what has happened to them and how they take care of themselves -- which is a great benefit -- and it's a lot of fun because we take them through an advanced driving course. And that's not something you're going to get through drivers ed."

"I actually took the Check B4U drive class, and they taught me a lot of things, which I know now and through my doctor, " said Chorley.

La Rabida Children's Hospital pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Jennifer Miller says driving is a hot topic for her patients.

"Driving is a privilege for any teenager, and driving with diabetes is kind of like everything else, with diabetes when you are first learning about it, it seems very, very high maintenance because there are so many extra things to do. First, safety measures, but realistically, as long as you are taking care of diabetes and doing all of the recommended things, it shouldn't actually be that big of a deal," said Dr. Miller.

Joshua Funderwhite, 16, also has type 1 diabetes. He was more worried about driving than about his disability.

"Typically, I test about 15 to 20 minutes before I starting driving, and then for every hour of driving, I like to test unless my body shows me signs of getting low or high," said Funderwhite.

One thing drivers with diabetes always need to keep in their cars is food.

"I always keep food with me, and I always keep a box of juice in my car and some glucose tablets," said Hooten.

For more information about the Check B4U Drive program and diabetes go to www.diabetes.org and www.jdnolimits.org/checkb4udrive.


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