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Study shows many fatal two-car crash initiators used opioids

A study published in JAMA Network Open has revealed a possible connection between using prescription opioids and causing a fatal two-car crash. Residents of New York should know that there is an opioid crisis nationwide. In 1993, 2% of all car accident initiators were found with opioids in their system, and in 2016, that percentage was 7.1%.

Researchers analyzed over 18,300 fatal two-car crashes, determining that 1,467 drivers in all tested positive for opioids. Of these, 918 were crash initiators and 549 were not. In other words, crash initiators were twice as likely as other drivers to be found using opioids. As for the most commonly detected opioids, they were hydrocodone (32%), morphine (27%) and oxycodone (19%).

In 7,535 cases, drivers initiated the accident by veering out of their lane. This was regardless of whether drivers were using opioids or not. Incidentally, though, opioid use causes psychomotor and cognitive impairment, which can result in drivers becoming drowsy and drifting out of their lane.

The study does not say whether opioids are directly to blame for crashes. After all, opioid users treating chronic pain can develop a tolerance for the psychomotor and cognitive effects whereas those who are treating acute injuries like fractures and burns are more likely to be impaired behind the wheel.

In either case, no one should be out driving after taking opioids. If opioid use or abuse is behind car accident a victim might be able to take action under personal injury law. New York is a no-fault state, so third-party insurance claims are rare. To see if they can file a claim, victims of motor vehicle accidents may consult with a lawyer. The lawyer might assist with everything from finding evidence to negotiating a settlement.

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