Study links opioids with deadly crashes

When drivers in New York get behind the wheel, they may be concerned about a number of threats on the roadway, from distracted drivers using their mobile phones to drunk people operating cars. One more threat that a study highlighted is the potential danger posed by prescription opiates. These drugs have garnered significant national news attention because of the growth in opioid addiction and the fatal overdoses that have taken many lives. Researchers said that drivers who were found to be responsible for deadly crashes were nearly twice as likely to have prescription opiates in their bloodstream at the time of the crash.

Researchers examined 18,321 fatal accidents involving two vehicles that were part of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. This national database is maintained by the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They found a number of factors that could contribute to severe motor vehicle accidents. The fatal crashes were most commonly linked to drivers veering outside their correct lane of traffic. There were 5,258 drivers who caused these crashes who had alcohol in their systems at the time of the accident, as opposed to 1,815 drivers who were found not responsible.

Prescription opioids were a more common element than in the past. In 1993, only 2 percent of at-fault drivers tested positive for these drugs, while 7.1 percent did so in 2016. Overall, 918 at-fault drivers had a positive test for these medications, as did 549 of the not-at-fault drivers. The researchers only included positive tests for oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone and other prescription medications rather than illegal drugs.

Of course, intoxication is only one contributor to dangerous and negligent driving, resulting in severe car crashes. People injured in an accident through no fault of their own might opt to work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their damages.

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