The opioid overdose epidemic has been a top-priority for safety advocates as well as federal agencies for several years now. However, a little-known fact that has not garnered as much press is that opioid use has also contributed to an increase in the number of car accidents linked to drivers who were driving while under the influence of these painkillers.
A dependence on opioid medications or painkillers like Oxycontin has been blamed for a nationwide crisis that has raged unabated. In 2017 alone, 47,000 Americans died as the result of an opioid overdose. Deaths from opioid overdoses increased 14% nationwide in that year. In Georgia, however, opioid deaths increased over 16% in 2017. And to make it more a part of the daily conversation, social media has been awash with images and videos of addicts passed out or dead in their cars, sidewalks and commercial spaces.
Now, researchers at the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center say that there is ample evidence that opioid painkillers and drivers high under the influence of medications like Oxycontin are also causing an increasing number of car accidents. Their conclusions are based on results from a study that was conducted on 18,000 drivers involved in fatal accidents between 1993 and 2016. According to the researchers, the number of fatal car accidents involving drivers under the influence of opioid painkillers actually tripled over this 25-year period.