At one time, drunk driving was a big topic. Then organizations like MADD arose to combat that social ill. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) the nation has seen a 24 percent decline in drunk driving accidents since 2006. That is the good news. The bad news is that drugged driving has taken up the slack by increasing over 21 percent just since 2013. As terrible as drunk driving is, drugged driving car accidents tend to be worse.
Legal and Illegal Narcotics Contribute to Drugged Driving
Anyone tuning in to the news knows that there is an opioid epidemic in America. Pennsylvania and New Jersey are not immune. Playing to the issue is the legal pharmaceutical trade. Pain management clinics abound. Anyone seeking to avoid pain from back and neck injuries especially, go to these clinics for relief. Some go to multiple clinics and sell the excess pain medications on the street.
The most common pain management medications include hydrocodone and oxycontin (both opioids), various muscle relaxers such as carisoprodol and cyclobenzaprine, and anti-anxiety medications such as alprazolam and diazepam. The prescribed use of these medications is effective treatments for chronic pain and other medical conditions. The problem is that these medications are also very addictive and when abused, quickly lose their potency. Many who begin taking these medications often become addicted and seek more or stronger drugs.
When Patients Lose Control
Taking more than the prescribed dose causes a form of inebriation and an inability to function; many pass out because of an overdose, some die behind the wheel. This happens despite the fact that the medications clearly state on the bottles to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery when taking.
Another issue that arises is when these opioid medications begin to lose their potency, abusers look to harder drugs to get the same effect. This generally leads them to either the higher doses of the prescribed drug or to heroin or fentanyl. Heroin, once the drug of hardened street addicts, is rapidly becoming a mainstay of middle and upper-class America. The even more potent fentanyl is killing record numbers nationwide.
In any case, one of the key issues law enforcement is seeing is that when those seeking these drugs make a purchase, they do not wait until driving home to take them. Instead, they take the meds or the illegal substances as soon as acquired. In some cases, the street drug heroin has been laced with the cheap fillers and the unsuspecting abuser often passes out while driving. Many police today carry an antidote in their patrol car called naloxone. Naloxone can prevent death in some instances of drug overdose but only if administered reasonably soon and only if the driver manages to stop before a car accident occurs.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates Help Victims of Drugged Driving Accidents
As with drunk driving, drugged driving is a crime. A person can be arrested for driving even under the influence of a prescription medication such as hydrocodone. Worse, a person driving under the influence can injure or kill others in a car accident and can be held both criminally and civilly liable. Those injured have a right to sue for damages. The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Geoffrey B. Gompers & Associates can help if hurt by a drugged driver in or near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Voorhees, New Jersey. For a free consultation, contact us online or call 215-567-6600.