Dramatic Increase in Prescription Opioids Found In Fatally Injured Drivers

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Stanford Chihuri, MPH Staff Associate/Data Analyst Department of Anesthesiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons Columbia University Medical Center NY, NY 10032

Stanford Chihuri

Stanford Chihuri, MPH
Staff Associate/Data Analyst
Department of Anesthesiology, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Columbia University Medical Center
NY, NY 10032 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the past 2 decades, consumption of prescription opioids has substantially increased in the U.S. Prescription drugs may cause drowsiness and impaired cognition which may interfere with psychomotor functioning necessary during the operation of a motor vehicle. The current study assessed time trends in prescription opioids detected in drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes from 1995 to 2015 in 6 states in the U.S.

Results of the study showed that the prevalence of prescription opioids detected in fatally injured drivers has increased 700% in the past 2 decades.

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Pot Plus Alcohol Raises Fatal Traffic Accident Risk Over 500%

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Guohua Li DrPH, MD Professor and Director Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Department of Epidemiology Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University

Dr. Li

Guohua Li DrPH, MD
Professor and Director
Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention
Department of Epidemiology
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Drugged driving has become a serious problem in the United States in the recent years due to increased consumption of marijuana and opioids. About 20% of fatally injured drivers used two or more substances, with alcohol-marijuana being the most commonly detected polydrug combination.

Our study of over 14000 fatal 2-car crashes indicates that drivers testing positive for alcohol, marijuana, or both are significantly more likely to be responsible for initiating these crashes than those using neither of the substances. Specifically, compared to drivers not using alcohol and marijuana, the risk of being responsible for initiating fatal crashes increases 62% for those testing positive for marijuana and negative for alcohol, 437% for those testing positive for alcohol and negative for marijuana, and 539% for those testing positive for both alcohol and marijuana. These results suggest that when used in combination, alcohol and marijuana have a positive interaction on the risk of fatal crash initiation.

The most common driver error leading to fatal 2-car crashes is failure to keep in proper lane, followed by failure to yield right of way and speeding.

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Medical Marijuana Laws Linked To Lower Opioid-Related Traffic Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

June H. Kim Doctoral candidate,Department of Epidemiology Mailman School Public Health Columbia University

June Kim

June H. Kim
Doctoral candidate,Department of Epidemiology
Mailman School Public Health
Columbia University

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: A previous study indicated that states with medical marijuana laws had a reduced rate of opioid overdoses. If this is true, we’d expect to see similar reductions in opioid use associated with these laws. For this study, we used data from the FARS, a national surveillance system that records any crash events on US public roads that result in a fatality. Some states provide uniform testing of the majority of their deceased drivers, year to year. Among these states, we found that there was a lower prevalence of positive opioid toxicology tests among drivers crashing in states with an operational medical marijuana versus drivers crashing in states before a future medical marijuana law is implemented, particularly among drivers aged 21-40.

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