Many West Virginia residents rely on prescription opioids to manage chronic pain. Some people take these painkillers temporarily for acute conditions, like a broken limb. According to a study published by JAMA Network Open, an association has been identified between deadly two-vehicle accidents and at-fault drivers who tested positive for opioid use.
Researchers used data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System to analyze 18,321 fatal wrecks. When looking at the drivers who caused the accidents, they were much more likely to have used prescription opioids. Among at-fault drivers, 918 tested positive for opioids compared to 549 drivers who showed no opioid use. The data also suggested that drivers using opioids were more numerous than in previous years. In 1993, only 2% of drivers blamed with causing fatal two-vehicle crashes had opioids in their systems. By 2016, 7.1% of drivers tested positive.
The effects of opioids on drivers appear to vary depending on whether people take them for chronic pain or for an acute short-term condition. Scientists evaluating long-term pain patients in driving simulators have concluded that they are safe drivers because they are accustomed to the drugs. Short-term pain patients or drug abusers, however, can experience psychomotor and cognitive impairment with opioid use because they are not used to the drugs’ effects according to a professor of emergency medicine.
A person injured in a traffic accident caused by another driver has an interest in finding out if that person was intoxicated or otherwise driving recklessly. The support of a personal injury attorney might enable a thorough investigation that uncovers evidence that might support a claim for damages.