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How opioids impact drivers

A study published in JAMA Network Open had some key takeaways about the causes of crashes involving two vehicles. The study determined that the driver who caused the crash was more likely than the occupant of the other vehicle to be on opioids. Data for the study was taken from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Drivers who caused fatal crashes involving two cars were also more likely to be impaired by alcohol.

In 2016, 7.1 percent of fatal crashes were caused by those who had prescription opioids in their system. In 1993, that number was just 2 percent. However, researchers cautioned that they couldn't link opioid use with an increased risk of car crashes. Instead, they could merely show that it was a risk factor. In fact, there is evidence that those who build up a tolerance to prescription opioids can drive safely if they take a consistent dose.

Evidence for this includes research involving driving simulators. According to the study, drivers were most likely to be impaired by hydrocodone, morphine and oxycodone. Methadone was another common opioid that drivers in the study had tested positive for. The research also found that vehicle "drifting" outside the lane was the most common reason why crashes involving multiple vehicles take place.

Car crashes may result in a person sustaining serious injuries or succumbing to those injuries. If a person is hurt or killed in a crash, the driver who caused it may be liable for damages. Damages might include medical bills, lost wages and lost future earnings. Punitive damages may also be added depending on the circumstances of the case. A personal injury attorney might help gather evidence that negligence occurred. Examples of negligence include being impaired by drugs or alcohol or driving while tired or drowsy.

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