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Study finds association between opioid use, traffic fatalities

Georgia drivers who cause fatal two-car accidents might be more likely to be under the influence of alcohol or prescription opioids than drivers who are not at fault. Researchers looked at 18,321 fatal two-car accidents and found that more than 900 drivers who were at fault tested positive for prescription opioids compared to 549 who were not at fault. More than 5,200 motorists who were at fault tested positive for alcohol compared to 1,815 who were not at fault.

The study also found the incidence of drivers under the influence of opioids was on the rise. More than 7 percent of drivers at fault had opioids in their system in 2016 compared to 2 percent in 1993. However, experts say that some elements of the study may be somewhat misleading. Studies have found that people who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain over a long period of time build up a tolerance that makes driving safe for them. It tends to be abusers of the drug, who are unused to it, who may be dangers behind the wheel.

The study also found that the most common cause of fatal two-car accidents was vehicles weaving out of their lanes. According to one expert, it was not possible to determine whether opioids caused fatal crashes or if there was merely an association.

Nonfatal car accidents may still result in serious injuries that require lengthy periods of expensive medical treatment. Victims of a crash caused by the negligence of another driver might want to meet with an attorney to learn how best to seek compensation for their losses.

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