Opioid prescription drugs have become a popular method to treat pain. Unfortunately, the addictive effects of these drugs have sparked a serious epidemic across the United States. Upon first use, opioids can elicit a temporary endorphin release in the brain, which numbs pain and induces an overall feeling of pleasure.
Over time, the production of endorphins begins to diminish. In many cases, addicted users increase their intake of the drug in order to yield the initial “feel good” effect.
Effects of opioids on drivers
Opioid use has become an overall public safety issue, especially on the road. It heightens the risk of an accident by compromising:
- Cognitive skills: Cognitive skills are important for safe and defensive driving. It involves the ability to react to obstacles in the road, maintain undivided attention, process information, and take evasive action to avoid a crash. Opioid use impacts drivers’ cognitive abilities by slowing reaction time and causing disorientation. In some cases, users may experience hallucinations, restlessness, agitation, and loss of perception of time. In addition, opioids can cause drowsiness and put drivers at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Psychomotor skills: Psychomotor skills are required to perform basic driving tasks – steering, applying the brakes or gas pedal, and using turn signals. Opioids can impair the ability to perform these tasks by compromising the nervous system.
The prevalence of opioid-related crashes
Crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System was compiled and maintained by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis at the National Traffic Safety Administration. The data focuses on 18,321 two-car crashes that occurred across the United States and resulted in at least one death from 1993 - 2016.
Research found that the prevalence of opioids detected in a drivers’ system after a crash increased from two percent in 1993 to 7.1 percent in 2016. Approximately 1,467 at-fault drivers tested positive for opioids, which included:
- Hydrocodone – 32%
- Morphine – 27%
- Oxycodone – 19%
- Methadone – 14%
- Other prescription drugs – 9%
Among opioid-related crashes, the most common causes include:
- Failure to keep in proper lane – 54.7%
- Failure to yield right of way – 15.9%
- Failure to obey traffic signs and signals – 10.9%
- Driving on the wrong side of the road – 8%
- Reckless, erratic, and careless driving – 7.7%
Your legal recourse after an opioid-related crash
If you were injured in a car accident caused by drugged driver, it’s critical that you act immediately. The attorneys at Clancy & Diaz, LLP are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured motorists in greater Walnut Creek, California. Our case results prove it.
Our legal team will review the details surrounding your crash and work tirelessly to devise a solid case against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.