Should Persons with Diabetes Be Licensed to Drive Trucks?—Risk Management

Authors


Abstract

How should a regulatory agency interpret a risk analysis that concludes there is a small increase in risk? The agency must decide on behalf of society whether the increased risk is large enough to justify banning the risky activity or taking some other step to lessen the risks. In a companion paper (Songer et al.), we conclude that licensing insulin using persons to drive commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce would result in 42 additional crashes each year. Here we address risk management issues by interpreting the number of additional crashes and the relative risks of the prospective handicapped drivers. Are the number of additional crashes (42) significant? Is the increase in the annual crash risk (from 0.00785 to 0.032 for non-insulin dependent and 0.048 for insulin dependent persons) significant? Are the relative risks significant for all insulin using drivers (4.7)? For drivers with a history of severe hypoglycemic reactions (19.8)? How should society tradeoff risk increases for increases in opportunity for these handicapped persons? We review other social decisions concerning highway safety: Accepting the increasing risks of letting 16 year olds drive, allowing extremely light cars, allowing some unsafe highways, and allowing extremely unsafe driving conditions at some times of day. We conclude that the additional risks from insulin using persons are well within the current accepted range of risks. Currently, 70% of states permit insulin using persons to drive trucks within their state. Nonetheless, the social cost, due to fatalities, injuries, and property damage from allowing a person with a history of severe hypoglycemic reactions to drive is more than $19,700 per year.

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