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Study looks at role of opioids in fatal two-car crashes

JAMA Network Open has published the results of a study on fatal two-car crashes and the potential role that opioid use is playing in them. Opioid users in Oregon can probably see how the use of the prescription drug and driving do not go together. Opioids cause drowsiness and impair cognition and motor skills. As for those who take opioids for chronic pain, they may develop a tolerance for them, and so it can be hard to say if the drugs contribute to a crash.

The study focused not on whether opioids are behind certain crashes but, rather, the correlation between opioid use and being at fault for a crash. Researchers, looking at 18,321 fatal two-car crashes in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, discovered that 1,467 drivers in all tested positive for opioids. Of these, 918 were at fault for the crash they were in, and 549 were not.

This means that crash initiators in fatal two-car accidents are twice as likely as other drivers to test positive for opioids. Thirty-two percent of drivers were found with hydrocodone in their system, making this the most common opioid. This was followed by morphine (27%), oxycodone (19%) and methadone (14%). In addition, of those drivers who tested positive for alcohol, 5,258 initiated a crash and, 1,815 did not.

Drug use and alcohol abuse are all too commonly the cause of motor vehicle collisions, but fortunately, those who are injured through little or no fault of their own can file a claim in an effort to be compensated. In this state, anyone who is deemed 50% or less at fault can file. Actually achieving a fair settlement is another matter, of course, so victims may want a lawyer to assist them with negotiations. As a last resort, victims may have to take the case to court.

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