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New study associates some fatal two-car crashes with opioid use

Opioids cause psychomotor and cognitive impairment, which means users can become drowsy and unable to make clear judgments. This is why opioid use or abuse does not go together with driving. Drivers in Georgia should know that in 2016, 7.1% of all car crash initiators were found to have opioids in their system. In 1993, that percentage was 2%.

Though doctors are writing out fewer opioid prescriptions, opioid use is still behind a great many car crashes. A new study published by JAMA Network Open does not say that opioids cause crashes, but it does make a strong connection between the two. Researchers focused on fatal two-car crashes that involved opioid-using drivers. There were 1,467 such drivers in all, and of these, 918 were deemed to be crash initiators.

Hydrocodone was discovered in the systems of 32% of drivers, making this the most widespread opioid. Morphine came in second at 27%, followed by oxycodone at 19% and methadone at 14%. Out of the 18,321 fatal two-car crashes that researchers sifted through, 7,535 were caused by drivers drifting out of their lanes. This made it the most widespread driver error.

Though the study only makes associations, its results can still be misleading. Critics point out that there is a difference between opioid use and abuse. Long-term opioid users have a tolerance for its effects, but it could still be considered negligent of them to drive soon after taking the drugs.

When opioids are involved in car wrecks, victims may have a valid case on their hands. To have the case evaluated, they may see an attorney who works in personal injury law. Should the victim hire an attorney, he or she might bring in investigators and drug experts to assist with the case.

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