Wyoming residents have seen firsthand the impact opiates are having on some communities. There is evidence that the national opioid epidemic is affecting the national highway system. In car crashes, at drivers fault were twice as likely to be on opiates than those who did not initiate the crash.
The Fatality Analysis Reporting System showed that in the 18,321 fatal car crashes involving two cars, the common mistake that led to the crash was a driver not staying in their lane. Over 900 of the drivers who caused the crash tested positive to opiates as opposed to 549 crash initiators who did not. Over 5,250 crash initiators tested positive for alcohol as opposed to 1,815 who did not.
In 1993, only two percent of crash initiators had prescription opiates in their system. In 2016, that number rose to 7.1 percent. Thirty-two percent of drivers with opiates in their system tested positive for hydrocodone. Morphine, oxycodone and methadone were also found.
Researchers believe this study shows increased opioid abuse as opposed to increased use. They argue that when a person is taking opiates for a chronic condition, their body builds up a tolerance, allowing them to do daily activities without losing their psychomotor or cognitive skills. However, when a person is abusing opioids, their cognitive and psychomotor skills could be impaired, increasing the chance of car accidents.
Car accidents caused by distracted driving are potentially devastating. Auto accident victims may benefit from talking to a personal injury attorney. Attorneys typically do not investigate accidents, but they may work with investigators and accident re-creationists to get a clear picture of what led up to the crash. They may review medical records, police records and eyewitness accounts. An attorney could help their client document the particulars of the case, interact with insurance companies, collect medical bills and fight for compensation in court.