There are times when you know you shouldn’t get behind the wheel. Perhaps you had a few drinks too many, or you didn’t get much sleep the night before. Maybe you haven’t been feeling well, or you just took some cold medicine that makes you drowsy. Common sense tells you that if you are having trouble concentrating or staying awake, you should avoid driving for your own sake and the safety of others on the road.

Still, people in Georgia and across the country continue to drive when they shouldn’t. With the rise in prescription drug use and opioid dependency, the rate of drugged drivers is quickly catching up to drunk driving statistics, placing you and your family at risk every time you hit the highway.

Impaired judgement

Recently, a university study examined data from a number of states that routinely test the blood of those involved in fatal car accidents. The results of the study showed a dramatic increase in the presence of opioids in the blood of drivers in those fatal crashes. In fact, the study revealed the following startling facts:

  • Of the 37,000 drivers tested, about 25 percent of them had some substance in their systems.
  • The percentage of drivers in fatal accidents who tested positive for opioids was about 1 percent in 1995.
  • That number rose to 7.2 percent by 2015.
  • Women tested positive for substances significantly more often than men.

Opioids can make you feel dizzy, sleepy, nauseous and lethargic. Any of these factors may make it difficult for a driver to react in time to avoid an accident. If you or a loved one recently suffered injuries or worse in an accident caused by an impaired driver, you understand the frustration of falling victim to such a preventable tragedy.

The odds don’t have to be against you

Prescription drug dependency is on the rise, and some believe opioid addiction is an epidemic. The medical community estimates that more than 300 million people across the country are currently taking prescriptions such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, two of the most potent narcotics on the market. With that many people under the influence of opioids, it is not surprising that you became the victim of a tragic motor vehicle accident.

While no amount of money can replace what you lost in those moments, you may find some consolation in seeking justice for your damages. With the assistance of an attorney, some victims of impaired drivers have successfully brought claims to civil court in an effort to seek compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering.