Roughly 214 million opioid prescriptions are issued every year. The prevalence of this drug has led to many concerned road safety advocates in Colorado. Because they make one sedated and sometimes dizzy, opioids should not be taken before driving or operating heavy machinery.
In the 1990s, before the epidemic, 1% of all fatal car accidents were linked to opioid use. Now, that number is 7%. Researchers at Columbia University have conducted a study showing how opioid use increases the risk of fatal crashes. Their results have been published in JAMA Network Open.
Using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System to analyze fatal two-vehicle crashes, researchers focused on those incidents where deceased drivers at fault had opioids in their bloodstreams. Of these, 54.7% crashed because they drifted from their lanes. Opioid and alcohol use was more prominent in those motorists who committed at least one mistake that led to a crash.
In all, the chances of a fatal car accident are doubled with opioid use. However, there are limitations to the study. FARS does not include dosage amounts for opioids and alcohol. Therefore, not all drivers found with opioids in their systems were necessarily impaired.
However, the link between opioids and roadway crashes is clear. Drug and alcohol impairment is a serious form of negligence that could even result in criminal charges. Someone who has been injured at the hands of an impaired driver may file a personal injury claim. If successful, they could be compensated for medical bills, vehicle damage, lost wages and more. This is where legal advice and guidance might come in handy. A lawyer could negotiate with the applicable auto insurance company, litigating if a settlement cannot be reached.