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Study links opioids with initiators of fatal two-car crashes

Opioids can cause psychomotor and cognitive impairment, which is why opioid users should not drive when feeling such effects. Unfortunately, many in Tennessee do. The nationwide opioid crisis has clearly made an impact on auto accident numbers. Of all the drivers who initiated a crash in 2016, 7.1% had opioids in their system. This is a marked increase from 2% in 1993. Now, a new study has found a link between opioids and fatal two-car crashes in particular.

JAMA Network Open published the results. One of the most interesting findings was that car crash initiators were nearly twice as likely as drivers not at fault for a crash to test positive for opioids. Researchers studied thousands of fatal two-car crashes in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and found that of the 1,467 drivers who tested positive, 918 caused the crash they were in.

Hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and methadone were the most prevalent opioids, being found in 32%, 27%, 19% and 14% of drivers, respectively. Still, whether the opioids were directly to blame for the crashes is not clear.

Some criticize the study for being misleading. Specifically, the study appears to be blurring the line between opioid use and abuse and saying all opioid use is bad. However, many long-term opioid users drive safely because of a drug tolerance.

In the event that an opioid-using driver causes a crash, those who wish to file a personal injury case could blame the crash on the opioids. It all depends, though, on the facts of the case. Victims may want to hire a lawyer who, in turn, might hire investigators and drug experts to establish the other side's negligence. Once it is clear that opioid abuse was involved, the lawyer may be able to negotiate for a settlement with the insurance companies.

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