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Study claims that opioid use often leads to fatal crashes

Roughly 214 million opioid prescriptions are supplied throughout the U.S. every year. This high rate of use could be making New Jersey roads more dangerous. A new study published in JAMA Network Open has discovered that the risk for a fatal two-vehicle crash doubles when drivers use these medications. Most opioid medications say on their labels that users should not drive or operate heavy machinery when taking them. However, many drivers disregard such warnings.

Using the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System as the source for fatal car crash data, researchers analyzed 18,321 fatal two-vehicle crashes occurring between 1993 and 2016. After determining which drivers were at fault and which drivers had opioids in their bloodstreams, researchers came to several conclusions.

Over half of the at-fault drivers who also tested positive for opioids (54.7%) were found to be incapable of staying in their lanes. This was the top reason for their crashes. More crash initiators (i.e., drivers who committed at least one error that led to the crash) were found with opioids and/or alcohol in their systems than drivers who were not at fault.

Opioids often make users dizzy or sedated, which can spell danger behind the wheel. Specifically, drivers on opioids become less alert and react slower to any hazards they encounter.

Fortunately, there is a way for a car crash victim to get compensation from the at-fault party. However, building up a personal injury case against a negligent driver’s auto insurance company is a difficult process. Thus, a victim may want a lawyer to help them navigate the laws, determine how much they are eligible for and negotiate for that amount.