Study Shows Uptick in Fatal Car Accidents Related to Opioid Use

Opioid addiction and misuse has been deemed a national crisis, with the economic burden on the U.S. estimated at more than 78 billion dollars. Nearly 100 Americans overdose on prescription narcotics every day, and a recent study indicates that fatal opioid-related car accidents in our nation are on the rise.

The study was published in the May 4 edition of the American Journal of Public Health, raising concern about the alarming rate of deadly crashes involving drivers taking narcotic painkillers. According to researchers, the prevalence of prescription opioids detected in fatally injured motorists increased from 1.0 percent in 1995 to 7.2 percent in 2015 – a whopping seven-fold increase.

Traffic safety study on narcotic painkillers

The researchers evaluated data from Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems from Hawaii, California, New Hampshire, Illinois, West Virginia and Rhode Island, concluding more attention must be focused on the dangerous effects of increased prescription opioid use.

The study encompassed toxicological tests from 37,000 fatally injured drivers (taken within 60 minutes of the accident). The findings showed that opioid prevalence was higher in female compared to male drivers, and that 30 percent of those killed had elevated blood alcohol concentrations at the time of the crash.

The opioid crisis

Opioids are a class of medication that help relieve and reduce pain. Available in tablets, pills and liquid, they include codeine, fentanyl, Percodan, Tramadol, Oxycodone, opium, heroin and other morphine-derivatives. Continued use of narcotic painkillers –even those available by prescription — can lead to physical dependence, or addiction. Statistics show that opioid prescriptions in the United States have spiked dramatically in the past two decades.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse attributes this trend due to misinformation presented by pharmaceutical companies, who assured medical practitioners that patients could not become addicted to prescription opioids.

By 2015, more than 33,000 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to opioid overdose, including prescription narcotics. Authorities say that millions of Americans now suffer from opioid addiction and narcotic abuse disorders. Over the past two decades, opioid overdose deaths increased by 137 percent.

President Donald Trump just last month declared the opioid crisis a “national emergency,” saying “we’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”

Opioids – both prescription and illegal – have a strong depressant effect. These powerful narcotics lead to drowsiness, and can seriously slow reflexes and reaction times, impairing one’s ability to drive safely.

The opioid epidemic is a significant contributing factor to the uptick in traffic fatalities.  If you or someone you care about is injured in an accident caused by a drugged driver, the law affords remedies for seeking financial restitution. For skilled legal advocacy in New York, contact the law firm of Edeleman, Krasin and Jaye.

We are a client-focused firm, and fight aggressively for maximum compensation. To set up a free case review with a Long Island car accident lawyer that gets results, please call 800.469.7429.

Additional Resources on “Opioid Use and Car Accidents”

  1. American Journal of Public Health, Trends in Prescription Opioids Detected in Fatally Injured Drivers in 6 US States: 1995–2015
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Opioid Crisis
  3. NBC News, Trump Declares Opioid Crisis National Emergency