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Study highlights potential link between car crashes and opiates

On Behalf of | Feb 25, 2019 | car accidents |

Many Michigan residents are concerned about the public health impacts of the opioid crisis. According to one study, prescription opiate usage could also be linked to fatal car accidents. Researchers examined fatal two-car crashes across the United States and found that the at-fault drivers were almost twice as likely to have prescription opiates in their systems.

Regardless of the presence of substances, most of these deadly car accidents were caused when one driver veered outside of their correct lane. Still, there were vast discrepancies in substance use between those drivers found responsible for the crashes and those who were not. The researchers examined a total of 18,321 fatal crashes. They found that in 5,258 cases, the driver who was at fault had alcohol present in their system. Even 1,815 of the not-at-fault drivers tested positive for alcohol. Researchers also found that 918 of the at-fault drivers tested positive for prescription opiates, compared to 549 of the not-at-fault drivers.

The researchers included positive tests for prescription medications but not heroin or other illegal opiates. They said that while only 2 percent of at-fault drivers were found to have opiates in their system in 1993, 7.1 percent did in 2016. Some doctors said that people who take opioid drugs for chronic pain should not have reduced driving abilities, but people taking them for an acute incident like a broken bone or dental surgery may be negatively affected.

Substance use is only one type of negligent or dangerous driving that can lead to severe car accidents. An individual who has been injured in a wreck caused by someone else can work with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for their damages.