News | Published January 27, 2014 | Written by Susan Ososkie, CRNP, MS, NP-C, occupational health, Mount Nittany Physician Group

Commercial drivers with diabetes can stay healthy and driving

If you or someone you love has diabetes, striking the balance between diet, exercise and medication can be a challenge. For a commercial driver, diabetes not only presents health challenges, but could potentially derail a career. Or, even worse, a driver who feels his ability to drive may be adversely impacted by diabetes, may choose to hide or minimize symptoms that the condition is worsening. Living well with diabetes is all about empowering individuals to take control of their diagnosis, and in effect, take back their lives. With the proper education, management, guidance, and medical care, people live full, health lives and enjoy successful careers - even commercial drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency given responsibility for assuring public safety by establishing guidelines for commercial motor vehicles, including trucks, buses, and other vehicles that transport interstate cargo. Beyond the federal regulations, there are also state regulations that issue guidelines for school bus drivers and others that require medical certification but do not fall under federal regulation. Both types of drivers are required to meet certain physical standards that are meant to promote public safety.

Commercial drivers often feel caught in the crossfire. Should they reveal possibly disqualifying information and risk job loss, or keep silent and manage as best they can? The answer is neither! A driver, whether intrastate or interstate, who has a medical condition that is potentially disqualifying should enlist the help of a qualified certified medical examiner to discuss all medical conditions and the exemptions that are in place which allow drivers to stay on the road with the proper surveillance. The occupational medical professionals at Mount Nittany Physician Group work closely with specialists in endocrinology (diabetes), pulmonology (sleep medicine), cardiology, audiology, and neurology to keep commercial drivers healthy AND driving.