As the nation’s widespread opioid epidemic shows no signs of slowing down, researchers from Columbia University have found another unfortunate effect of this looming public health crisis. In addition to the well-publicized rise in overdose fatalities, researchers have found a significant increase in the number of opioid-related fatal car accidents. In fact, the study confirms that the number of drivers fatally injured in car accidents who have tested positive for narcotics is at an all-time high.
Researchers studied traffic fatalities in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and West Virginia over the course of 20 years, focusing on accident victims who passed away within an hour of the incident. Researchers looked at the traffic fatalities from these particular states because they drug test victims of fatal car accidents, regardless of suspicion or fault.
The study group included 37,000 people, three percent of whom tested positive for narcotics, totaling 1,110 people. While this may seem like a small number, it is the most recent increase that researchers find concerning. There was an increase of less than one percent in the number of men fatally injured in opioid related crashes between 1995 and 1999. That number increased to five percent between 2010 and 2015. For women, the rate increased from slightly over one percent between 1995 to 1999 to seven percent from 2010 to 2015.
According to Stanford Chihuri, lead researcher of the study, the increase in the number of drivers who test positive for opioids is a serious public health issue. Prescription opioids are a depressant, meaning they can slow your reaction time, increase drowsiness, and impair a driver’s motor skills. However, there is currently no field test comparable to the Breathalyzer test that can test drivers for narcotic intoxication. Those who support the findings of the study believe tests like this are necessary to prevent these numbers from continuing to climb.
A spokesperson for the Governors Highway Safety Association commented that the study results are in line with trend in today’s society where more opioids are prescribed and there are more opioid overdoses. Doctors and pharmacists have a responsibility to warn their patients about the addictive nature of these drugs and the impact they can have on one’s ability to drive.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Car Accident Victims
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a car accident involving another driver who was under the influence of prescription pain medication, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. The opioid epidemic is having a serious impact on the rise in traffic fatalities. Our experienced and compassionate team is committed to protecting your rights and ensuring that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. We will not stop fighting for you until justice has been served. To set up a free, confidential consultation, do not hesitate to call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent car accident victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.