Jeffrey E. Johnston

Study ties prescription opioids to deadly accidents

While the nationwide opiate crisis has drawn attention in Georgia due to growing issues with addiction as well as fatal overdoses linked to potent substances, some research may indicate that prescription opioids may also be related to some deadly car crashes. According to a study, the drivers who were found to have caused fatal accidents were almost twice as likely as the ones who weren't responsible to have been under the influence of prescription opioids at the time of the accidents.

Researchers investigated 18,321 motor vehicle accidents from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which is a federal database that records crashes in which people lost their lives. They examined only the accidents that involved two cars. In all cases, they discovered that the most common cause of these crashes was one driver's failure to remain in the proper lane of traffic. Substance use was a significant issue that turned up repeatedly, especially alcohol. Over 5,000 of the at-fault drivers had alcohol in their systems at the time of the crash, and even 1,815 of the drivers who were not responsible for the accident tested positive for alcohol consumption.

When it came to prescription opioids, 918 of the drivers who were to blame for the crashes tested positive as did 549 of the drivers who weren't at fault. The percentage of at-fault drivers with opiates in their system grew from past years. In 1993, that number was 2 percent, and it increased to 7.1 percent by 2016. The study measured only the presence of opiates available by prescription rather than illegal drugs like heroin. However, some physicians warned that the results may indicate people abusing these prescription medications.

Drunk, distracted and dangerous drivers can cause serious motor vehicle crashes that lead to victims sustaining catastrophic injuries. People hurt in car accidents through no fault of their own can work with a personal injury attorney to pursue compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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