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Opioids may play significant role in some fatal two-car crashes

Opioid use is widespread in Kentucky, as elsewhere, and the unfortunate thing is that many people choose to drive under the influence of these drugs. Opioids cause drowsiness and dizziness, especially in those who have not developed a tolerance to them, such as individuals who take them for acute injuries like burns and fractures. They are at the highest risk for a crash.

Though some experts say that opioid-related car crashes will decline as fewer opioid prescriptions are being written, one study says that the number of car crash initiators with opioids in their system has risen from 2% in 1993 to 7.1% in 2016. A second study, which was published in JAMA Network Open, has explored the possible role that opioid use has in fatal two-vehicle crashes.

After sifting through 18,321 deadly two-car accidents in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, researchers focused on the 1,467 individuals who tested positive for opioids at the time of the crash. It turned out that 918 of these drivers initiated the crash. This means the crash initiators were two times likelier than the other drivers to be found with opioids in their system.

Coincidentally, the error that most commonly led to fatal two-car crashes was drifting out of one's lane. Opioid users and drowsy drivers, in general, are no stranger to such errors.

Anything that impairs a driver's attention, be it an opioid or a smartphone, raises the risk for motor vehicle accidents as well as personal injury claims from the injured parties. After all, inattentive driving is a form of negligence. Those who want to file a claim may want to discuss matters with a lawyer, especially the "choice no-fault" laws of Kentucky. They may hire an attorney for the settlement negotiations and other steps.

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