Study finds some car crashes caused by opioids

Drivers who cause fatal two-vehicle accidents in Ohio and around the country are nearly twice as likely to have opioids in their system as drivers who are not at fault.. A study that came to this conclusion was published in JAMA Network Open in February.

According to the study, lane departure is the leading cause of fatal crashes of all types. In order to determine what role opioids play in such crashes, researchers analyzed data from 18,321 deadly two-vehicle accidents listed in the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Of those crashes, they found that 7,535 were attributed to a driver's failure to stay in the proper lane. Of the drivers who were found at-fault for those crashes, 918 tested positive for prescription painkillers. In comparison, only 549 of the drivers who were not found at-fault tested positive for opioids.

Hydrocodone was the most common opioid found in drivers' systems, with 32 percent of drivers testing positive for the drug. Morphine was second, with 27 percent testing positive, and oxycodone was third, with 19 percent testing positive. The authors of the study said the findings only show an association between opioids and fatal crashes, not causation. They also said that the study does not indicate that drivers taking painkillers for chronic health conditions are causing more car accidents. However, people who are not used to taking opioids could be at elevated risk for causing a crash.

Families who have lost loved ones in a drug-related car accident might benefit from Columbus, Ohio, fatal motor vehicle accident legal representation. A legal professional could evaluate the family's case and help negotiate a settlement for funeral and burial expenses and other related losses.

Source: NBC News, "Prescription opioids may play role in some fatal two-car crashes", Linda Carroll, Feb. 20, 2019

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