New Jersey drivers may be worried about many threats on the road, from people texting while driving to those getting behind the wheel while drunk. One study is drawing attention to another potential contributor to serious car wrecks: prescription opioids. While the opiate epidemic has attracted widespread attention as a public health crisis linked to escalating addiction and the danger of fatal overdoses, researchers have noted that the drugs could also be connected to some deadly crashes.
Researchers examined 18,321 different deadly car crashes across the country, focusing on incidents involving two cars. They pulled relevant information from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System which is maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Across the board, they found that the largest single cause of these deadly motor vehicle accident was the failure to stay in the proper lane of traffic. They also found a number of other factors that could contribute to a crash’s severity. For example, 5,258 of the drivers found at-fault for deadly accidents tested positive for alcohol, as did 1,815 of the drivers found not responsible for causing the crashes.
When it came to prescription opioids, 918 of the drivers held responsible for causing the accidents tested positive, almost twice the number – 549 – of not-at-fault drivers found to have opiates in their system. The researchers studied only drugs available by prescription rather than illegal options like heroin. However, some doctors said that it was likely that increased risks of car accidents may be linked to people who abused the drugs rather than people taking them as prescribed.
There are a number of dangerous and negligent driving behaviors that put others’ lives at risk on the roadways. People injured in car accidents caused by someone else can work with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation for their losses.