Research studies play a vital role in determining the causes, increases, or decreases in non-fatal car accidents that happen across the country. A recent Yale research study that was published on November 4, 2022, determined that there has been a decrease in the number of non-fatal car accidents that involve prescription opioids. Research shows that people taking prescription opioids are more than twice as likely to be involved in a car accident than those who are not. Further, studies showed that between the early 1990s and early 2010s, the number of fatalities involving drivers using prescription opioids increased seven-fold, and this increase coincided with an increase in opioid use.
Yale researchers from the Yale School of Public Health received a research grant from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Recently, Yale researchers set out to determine how many drivers in the United States were involved in non-fatal car injuries between 2014 to 2018 and had opioid prescriptions at the time of the accidents. The researchers found that once the CDC released new guidelines for prescribing opioids in 2016, this number dropped significantly. The new guidelines “addressed when to initiate or continue opioid prescriptions for chronic pain, offered guidance on which drugs to use, what dosages to provide, and prescription length, and provided strategies for assessing the risk of and addressing the harm caused by opioid use.” Thus, efforts to curb opioid prescriptions have been effective, and with these efforts came a sharp decline in the number of car accidents involving drivers who use prescription opioids – a 28 percent decrease.
The study involved gathering data from IBM MarketScan Databases that contained information regarding 255 million people with employer-provided health insurance across the country. Researchers identified the number of car accidents that led to emergency department visits between 2014 to 2018 and checked whether the injured drivers had an active opioid prescription. Researchers found that each year of the study, the number of active opioid prescriptions among drivers injured in non-fatal car crashes decreased. According to the study, the numbers were as follows: “opioid prescription rates dropped by 5% in 2015, 18% in 2016, 31% in 2017, and 49% in 2018.”