The answer to this question is confusing, to say the least. There are certain restrictions and guidelines that need to be followed by both the employer and the driver. The answer also has many parts to it, to say the least.
The history of Diabetes and Truck driving goes back in time to quite a few years. For the most part, if you had Diabetes and needed insulin you were not allowed to have a CDL license. There were no considerations given for the type of diabetes nor the severity of the symptoms.
The law did not matter for either prospective drivers or current, long-term drivers.
However, in 2003, some of these standards loosened a touch. The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration created the Diabetes Exemption Program. This program allowed drivers with diabetes, who met certain criteria to continue their employment or become Truck Drivers.
Diabetes Exemption Program
When this was instituted, it appeared to be quite ineffective. All truckers who were dependent on insulin had to fill out the application with the FMCSA. This process could take many months. Meantime, there was a loss of income for the entire time.
Within the last two years, the program has ended. There was a new and effective system created that would help determine if there would be certificates issued to truckers with diabetes.
New Federal Laws
When the new laws were implemented, this meant that the current and future truck drivers did not need to apply for the FMCSA Diabetes Exemption Program in order to be truckers.
Rather than the application process, the trucker needed to visit a Certified Medical Examiner. The Medical Examiner will work with the Trucker’s Physician and decide between them if the Trucker can be issued a certificate that will allow him to continue or proceed to drive a commercial vehicle in interstate traffic. This certificate would be good for up to a year.
Each year after that, the Trucker will need to have a new certificate issued.
Yes, a Trucker who drives Commercial Trucks through Interstate traffic can be allowed to drive a truck. He will need certification through the Physician and Certified Medical Examiner. For those who already had been certified, a medical card can be issued or renewed through a Certified Medical Examiner.
Health Risks for Truckers with Diabetes
Compared to the National average, a Commercial Truck driver is at a 50% increased risk for Diabetes. This is due to the activity levels that fall into a trucker's sedentary lifestyle. A trucker works long hours and much of the time it is not a good diet that they are consuming.
Mealtimes can also be challenging for the Trucker as they do not know when they will have access to a microwave or even a grocery store to get proper food choices.
Diabetes is a chronic condition for not only truckers but also for all who do have diabetes. However, a trucker tends to have a more difficult issue remembering to order and fill the prescriptions before the next road trip. The trucker also has to remember to test the glucose levels routinely. This means he or she also needs to eat meals at routine times.
Finding a place, whether a cafe or restaurant, can also be difficult. You want to find a place that serves healthier food options.
The priority must be on managing the symptoms which prevent the negative issues from happening. When managing symptoms is not maintained, the issues that could happen could cause a removal of the health certificate.
Peripheral Neuropathy can rule out receiving a medical certificate. This condition indicates the loss of feeling or sensation in the hands and feet. This loss of feeling is not just a danger to the Trucker, it is also a danger to other drivers on the road also.
Diabetic Trucker Tips
While being a truck driver may be one of the greatest careers one can have, there are a few tips that can help a Trucker remain over the road by managing the symptoms and being successful in managing the activity levels.
Increasing your physical activity is the first step. An exercise routine does not need to occupy much of your time. Taking a walk right away in the morning, during the midday hours and in the evenings will help.
A short routine of cardio routine will certainly help, these can be some that do not require special equipment. Planks, crunches or even jumping jacks and sit-ups can help. These do not take much time and you will feel better the more often you take the time to work out a little.
Meals should remain eaten at routine times throughout the day. Try to maintain the schedule each day. A cooler should be kept in the truck so that healthy snacks are always available. If it is possible, plan the route you are driving to sync with restaurants or stores in the area you will be in, in order to choose healthier foods for a meal.
Check your medications before heading out on the road. By doing this, you will ensure that you have enough medication for the trip and will not run out. It is best to be prepared so that you do not run out of insulin, or realize halfway through the trip that you do not have enough with you.
There are actually many Physicians that are willing to be seen virtually. If you could arrange this with your normal Physician, that would be best. However, there are many other Physicians that can be contacted in a virtual manner. Arranging a Virtual Physician ahead of time can be arranged. You could authorize that they have access to your medical file while you are out on the road driving. This virtual Physician would also be able to give you advice as needed if the situation arises.
There is a 50% higher chance of diabetes for a Truck driver. This is due to the lack of activity and exercise. A Truck driver is able to apply for a medical waiver on the condition that they can show proof that they can maintain their blood sugar levels. When a Truck driver can show that they meet the specific criteria, the Medical Waiver will likely be issued.
The use of insulin is no longer the barrier to being issued the CDL license with a medical waiver. The applicant needs to show medical proof that there have been no issues and that blood sugar is maintained.
Managing Diabetes may seem to be a daunting task when you are a Truck driver. However, once you maintain the levels, continue an exercise program and continue to eat a healthy diet, there should be no issue.
Diabetes is a chronic condition that has no cure. Diabetes is also a progressive condition. This means that the disease can cause more issues physically to the body, which can ultimately affect a person mentally. There are always people that can help, that will listen and can possibly give advice. The need for personal management with your diabetes is mandatory situation if you have been diagnosed with diabetes.
Times have changed drastically for Truck Drivers who have Diabetes, especially in the last few years. Diabetes can take years to fully develop once the person has been diagnosed. By the time the disease is in full-blown condition, the person will have learned to maintain a healthy diet, exercise and medication.
With good personal management, people can prevent the condition from progressing any further.
The demands of being on the road can hinder the proper management of Truck drivers with diabetes. This can cause the average compliance rate with medication to be only 50% to 60% among Truckers. While those who have other careers, the compliance rate averages 60% to 70%. People with diabetes will find that their Physician will oftentimes recommend a Personal and Certified Coach. This personal coach can help a Truck Driver adhere to a medication schedule.
The average Truck Driver also experiences many if not all of the same challenges and issues that others face, however, when you add managing diabetes to the mix, this could become too much for some people. This is another reason that a Personal and Certified Coach can help, or a dedicated Professional Partner that understands diabetes and its challenges are quite commonly recommended.
The Truck driver also needs to understand the importance of proper eating and maintaining a healthy eating routine. Contrary to many other career choices, a Trucker cannot just walk down the hall to a breakroom to grab a healthy snack or water. A Trucker has to plan all this out.
A trucker’s routine is quite often based on the schedule of driving. They have a time limit on how long the drive should take and are given a deadline to follow. This is one reason why the average compliance for medication is as low as it is for Truckers. Many tend to worry about the deadlines given to them before they consider their own health. Simply stated, these two situations can work well together with some simple planning.
Have a small refrigerator, a microwave, and a cooler and have the foods needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This should eliminate the time spent having to pull over to find a place that sells the fruit or foods that you need to eat.
Driver’s can also plan ahead by preparing meals ahead of time, while at home. This way will ensure that the healthy meal plan is followed and you know all the ingredients within the meal. The stops that are necessary will be much less of a hassle when everything you need is right there with you at an arm’s length away.