OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — “I get in and I have my sugar checker, which is right here, and I check my sugar,” says 16-year-old Jackson Allred.
Each time Allred gets behind the wheel, checking his blood sugar is part of the routine.
“If I'm good I can go, If I'm low, I've got to wait."
He has type 1 diabetes which means that his body doesn’t create insulin...which can create complications while on the road if his blood sugar is too high or too low.
“High blood sugar...my vision goes blurry and my reflexes and stuff isn’t as good.”
On average...a normal blood sugar range is 70-150. Anything below or above that range is considered unsafe to drive.
"When I'm low it usually takes 15-20 minutes to get me up, or I have to have someone come pick me up."
Allred says driving for people with type 1 diabetes requires flexibility.
"It takes me a little longer so I have to plan ahead a little bit so let's say I'm going to practice before my game, I have to give myself an extra 30 minutes or so, just in case I'm high or low."
Across town...Lindi Janulewicz deals with the same thing. She’s been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes since she was three years old.
“You have to either not take off in a car, or pull over and wait,” she says.
She’s been in situations where she thought she was okay to drive.
"I was working a home show at the CHI Center and I’d had a low day. I was working hard, moving furniture, doing a lot of things for our business...and I left to meet my family at a restaurant and I don't remember leaving, and I don't remember anything until I pulled over at Creighton.”
For drivers like her and Jackson, technology helps them monitor their blood sugar.
“When I look at my pump, it also talks to my continual glucose monitor...they're friends and they Bluetooth back and forth to each other...which shows my blood sugar just like my watch does."
Jackson and Lindi carry snacks in their vehicles to help boost their blood sugar if needed.
“That’s why I always have juice right in my door, and it’s right within reach and it’s easy. Just pop the straw in and off we go,” she says.
It’s almost an invisible disease many don’t think about but it affects nearly one million Americans and their families.
Ken Allred, Jackson’s father says, "It's somebody with two or three cell phones and they're trying to concentrate on the cell phone and try and drive at the same time. and when a person with type 1 diabetes has high blood sugars, their mind can't just process like a normal people can. We as parents started to do driving with him, alongside driver's ed...that was the first thing we did, made sure he checked his blood sugar."
“I’m driving with my five-year-old daughter. I have that responsibility and I have the responsibility towards the other passengers on the road,” says Janulewicz.