The United States is in the midst of a growing prescription drug crisis, which is naturally leading to more prescription drug related car accidents. Oftentimes, these accidents occur due to a lack of education regarding the amount of impairment prescription drugs can cause. It’s a common misconception that if a doctor prescribes it, then it must be acceptable to use while you go about your day.
Drug-impaired driving is operating a motor vehicle while being under the influence of/impaired by any kind of drug. Clearly, not all prescription drugs negatively impact your ability to drive or make decisions, but it is important to note that prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause impairment alone or in combination with one another. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a record of over 400 drugs that can cause impairment, the main two are marijuana and opioid prescription drugs.
After significant research was done, it was concluded that there is sufficient evidence that shows that opioids can impair cognitive function, cause drowsiness, and increase the users crash risk. In 2016 alone, 16% of drivers killed in car accidents tested positive for opioids. Although people do seem to be somewhat aware of the dangers and most prescription bottles carry warnings, there is still a prevalence of drug use among drivers.
This could possibly be explained by a lack of education on the impact of prescription drugs when it comes to driving. While the FDA advises that doctors let their patients know not to drive or operate dangerous machinery without knowing the effects of the drug on them, it may not be enough to actually make the user realize the true danger.
It is possible for drug-impaired drivers that cause an accident to be charged criminally and civilly, but it can be quite difficult to prove that the driver was under the influence of prescription drugs and that it was a major factor in causing the crash. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you navigate these situations, and assist in determining any damages you may be owed.