Opioids Leading to More Deaths on Arizona Roads
It’s often easy to recognize a drunk driver and test for alcohol consumption with a breathalyzer. We might also be able to see someone driving distracted while using a cellphone or turning around to talk to kids in the backseat. But what’s hard to notice is who is abusing opioids and putting other people at risk because of it.
Opioids are contributing more and more to serious vehicle accidents. They’ve been the cause of pedestrian, bicycle, crosswalk, and car accidents that leave people severely injured or dead. And because of the widespread abuse of opioids, it can happen anywhere, any time.
The Phoenix City Council recently took action by voting 8-0 to sue drug manufacturers and distributors for some of the money the city spent to fight opioid abuse locally. Council members wrote a letter explaining how the city’s public safety personnel have been put under “incredible strain” because of opioid-related injuries and deaths, according to AZ Central. According to the same report, more than 500 Arizona residents have died because of opioids in less than six months.
What Are Opioids and How Do They Contribute to Crashes?
Opioids are painkillers prescribed by doctors. Daily use is common, and prescriptions are often easy to get. Some people abuse opioids by taking more than the correct amount or using them without a prescription. There is currently no law against driving under the influence of opioids, which can make people drowsy and unfocused. Users also might experience delayed reactions. This could mean the difference between life or death on the road, and puts sober drivers and their passengers in jeopardy.
A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health shows that car accident deaths increase by more than 400% in males who are using opioids and more than 700% in females.
Accidents caused by drug addiction and abuse can happen anywhere, but according to the Arizona Department of Health Services, Maricopa, Pima, and Mohave counties are experiencing the highest rates of opioid overdoses and deaths.
Can You Protect Yourself from Drowsy Drivers?
Unfortunately, there is no breathalyzer for someone who is using opioids. This means other drivers must be alert and drive defensively to stay away from drivers who are swerving, driving erratically, or look drowsy. While you can’t avoid all car accidents, you can make these choices:
- Slow down or quickly pass a drowsy driver if it is safe to do so. Alert authorities when you are able to pull over.
- Obey all traffic signals and proceed with caution through intersections, making sure to watch for drivers who might run a red light.
- Never drive distracted. Your focus needs to be on the road at all times.
- Educate your family members and friends that driving under the influence of opioids is dangerous. Opioid addiction can usually be spotted by looking for these symptoms: drowsiness, unusual withdrawal from regular activities, a drastic change in behavior, flu-like illnesses, secretive behaviors, frequent doctor visits.
However, even by following all these guidelines, you might still find yourself the victim of a car accident caused by a driver under the influence of opioids. Immediately following the accident, you should get help from an experienced legal team. Breyer Law Offices, P.C., makes sure to collect evidence and organize the facts about the crash so you can receive a settlement. You’ll likely be faced with expensive medical bills, car damages, and a loss of wages, all of which a strong settlement can help with.
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Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer