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Opioids may be an element in some traffic fatalities

Pennsylvania drivers who cause fatal crashes may be more likely to be using opioids than those who do not. According to a study that appeared in the journal JAMA Network Open, people who caused fatal accidents involving two cars were almost twice as likely as the other driver to test positive for opioids. Among all accidents, the most common cause was swerving out of the lane.

Researchers looked at more than 18,000 fatal two-car accidents. More than 1,400 drivers tested positive, and nearly one-third of those positive tests were for hydrocodone. More than one-fourth were for morphine. Others opioids commonly in use included oxycodone and methadone. In 1993, 2 percent of people who caused crashes were positive for opioids while in 2016 it was 7.1 percent.

It was pointed out that people who take prescription opioids regularly are unlikely to have their driving skills impaired by the drug. Studies have indicated that they develop a tolerance that allows them to drive safely. Therefore, according to one professor, it is more likely that those who cause accidents as a result of using opioids are abusing the drugs. The study used information provided by the Fatality Analysis Report System. The National Center for Statistics and Analysis maintains the fatality census at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Even accidents that are not fatal can result in serious injuries. People who are injured in accidents because someone has been driving under the influence of opioids or for other reasons might be eligible to receive compensation to cover expenses associated with the accident. Other common causes of car crashes are distracted driving and driving while fatigued. Victims might want to have their attorneys try to negotiate a favorable settlement with the at-fault motorist’s insurer.