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Rate of opioid car accidents rapidly increasing

Safety advocates and law enforcement continue to impress on the public the dangers of drinking and driving. The effects of alcohol on the body and mind make it difficult to safely operate a motor vehicle, and accidents involving drunk drivers typically result in horrific injuries.

Lately, however, those same opponents of drunk driving are battling a new enemy in opioids. As doctors continue to prescribe massive amounts of narcotics, addiction to powerful painkillers is on the rise. While you may not be able to smell it on someone's breath like alcohol, the effects of opioids on a driver can be just as deadly.

Impaired by drugs

If you have ever had a medical procedure or suffered an injury, you know the effects of narcotic painkillers. In fact, since your car accident, your doctor may have prescribed an opioid to help you deal with the pain of your injuries. Opioids produce the following effects on drivers, to name a few:

  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Slow reaction time

Sound familiar? In fact, the same symptoms appear in someone who has had too much alcohol to drink. While officers at the scene of your accident may not have been able to test the other driver for prescription medication, blood tests are showing that more drivers have high levels of opioids in their systems. In fact, one study analyzed data from 20 years of reports to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and learned that 24 percent of them had drugs in their systems, with 3 percent coming from prescription opioids.

This study also showed that among those taking the narcotics, 30 percent were mixing those drugs with alcohol. Women drivers are more likely to be under the influence of prescription drugs than men, but the rate of drug use among both men and women has increased rapidly over the past 4 years.

The situation is not improving

You have certainly heard that Tennessee and other states are dealing with an opioid crisis, which some call an epidemic. It may not surprise you to learn that in the past 20 years or so, the number of prescriptions for narcotic painkillers has increased fourfold from 76 million to almost 300 million. With that many people taking prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine, it is no wonder that the rate of drug-related accidents continues to increase.

Just as with alcohol, prescription drugs come with warnings, the chief of which often is to avoid driving a motor vehicle. If you were the victim of a car accident involving an impaired driver, you may be painfully aware of the injustice of suffering because of another person's negligence.

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