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Opioid use means higher risk of fatal car crashes

Louisiana residents should be aware that, according to the CDC, every year in the US, 214 million prescriptions for opioids are issued. However, the rate at which opioids are being prescribed per 100 people has gone down from 72.4% in 2006 to 66.5% in 2016. Most opioids warn users on their labels that they should not drive or operate machinery while taking the medication, yet opioid use among drivers is growing.

A study that appeared in JAMA Network Open has linked opioid use with a higher risk for fatal car crashes. Researchers studied 18,321 pairs of drivers who died in two-vehicle crashes between 1993 and 2016 and found that nearly 55% of the drivers who died and tested positive for opioids crashed because they couldn’t remain in their lane.

The study did have several limitations. The NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which provided the crash data, doesn’t store the dosage amounts of alcohol or opioids. Not every driver who died, then, was necessarily impaired by the opioids.

Opioids are noted for making drivers sedate or dizzy. This can cause them to be less alert and react more slowly to dangers on the road. Opioid use is behind roughly 7% of all fatal vehicle crashes.

In the case of a fatal car crash, the family of the deceased may be able to pursue a claim and be compensated for things like medical expenses accrued before death, loss of support and funeral and burial expenses. A wrongful death lawsuit is not something that families can file on their own, so they may want to consider having their case assessed. A lawyer may utilize a network of professionals, including crash investigators, to build up a promising case.

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