While many people are already concerned about the effects of the opioid epidemic in West Virginia and around the country, studies indicate that those effects could extend to car accidents. According to one nationwide study, drivers in fatal two-car collisions held to be at fault for crashes were nearly twice as likely to test positive for opioids as those that were found not at fault. Regardless of the presence of opioids, other drugs, or alcohol, the most common cause of these fatal crashes was one driver veering out of his or her lane.
The study’s authors noted that the research did not indicate that the at-fault drivers were taking illegal drugs; in many cases, they were taking prescribed opiates available by prescription only. Still, the researchers noted that the results indicated that the opiate epidemic was a risk to highway safety. The researchers used information from a national database containing detailed information about deadly car accidents across the country.
According to the study, 918 drivers found to be at fault in fatal collisions were found to have prescription opioids in their system. Almost 550 drivers found not at fault still were found to have these drugs in their system at the time of the crash. Alcohol was even more common; 5,258 at-fault drivers and 1,815 not-at-fault drivers were found to test positive for alcohol at the time of the crash. The percentage of at-fault drivers taking prescription opioids was 7.1 percent in 2016, an increase from 2 percent in 1993.
Opiates are only one of the factors that can contribute to car crashes. People injured in a collision caused by the negligence of another motorist might find it advisable to have the help of a lawyer when seeking compensation for their medical bills and other losses.