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Opioids are far more common in traffic fatalities now

Car accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. People can become distracted by their phone or by people in their car, losing focus on the road ahead of them. They can fall asleep or become tired due to a lack of rest. And, unfortunately, they may choose to partake in some incredibly negligent behaviors, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

DUIs have always been a prevalent part of the car accident landscape, but new data suggests that the opioid crisis that has rocked our country is playing a more prominent role in fatal traffic accidents.

The information comes from a study performed by Columbia University researchers who looked at traffic fatality data from states that had drug testing laws. They looked at data from multiple decades, and the deaths involved in the accidents had to have occurred within an hour of the accident.

What the researchers found is that men and women that died in traffic accidents from 1995 to 1999 both had similar levels of opioid intoxication: about 1 percent. But looking at more recent years, such as 2010 to 2015, shows that opioids are everywhere. About 5 percent of men who died in traffic accidents tested positive for opioids, and for women the rate was even worse: 7 percent.

This isn't just a massive health crisis for the people taking opioids -- this is a public safety hazard that affects all walks of life and many different aspects of society.

Source: The Drive, "Prescription Opioid-Related Fatal Car Crashes Spike in U.S., Study Says," Kyle Cheromcha, July 31, 2017

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