Experience Brings Results

Study considers link between opioids and fatal two-car crashes

Oregon residents may be taking opioids either for chronic pain or acute injuries. If it is for the former, they may not be so affected by the drug's psychomotor and cognitive effects. If it is for the latter, they are at a greater risk for impairment. In either case, it is inadvisable to mix opioid use with driving because one can become drowsy behind the wheel and cause a crash.

In 1993, 2% of drivers who caused crashes tested positive for opioids. In 2016, that percentage was 7.1%. Though physicians are writing fewer opioid prescriptions, the nation is still undergoing an opioid crisis, and this is affecting people's safety on the road. A study published in JAMA Network Open has recently explored the possible role that opioids play in fatal two-car crashes in particular.

Researchers analyzed over 18,300 of these types of crashes and then centered on 1,467 drivers who had opioids in their system. Of the drivers with opioids in their systems, 918 were the crash initiators, and 549 were not. Hydrocodone was found in 32% of drivers, morphine in 27%, oxycodone in 19% and methadone in 14%.

Researchers did not venture to say to what extent opioids were a contributing factor in these crashes. Some criticize the study for not clarifying that these drivers were abusing opioids.

In the wake of car crashes, victims may need to show that the guilty party was abusing, not using, opioids in order to put forward a valid personal injury claim. This is just one of many reasons why victims are encouraged to consult with a lawyer before doing anything else. An attorney and his or her team of crash investigators and other third parties may do much to strengthen a case. The stronger the case, the more likely that negotiations will go smoothly.

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