Law Office of Kevin L. Beard, P.A.

The effect of the opioid crisis on Maryland's roadways

A new study released by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is providing insight into the role opioid abuse plays in deadly accidents on Maryland's highways.

The "Heroin Highway" cuts right through the western part of the state, along the 1-70 and I-81 corridor. That's one of the reasons that Maryland -- along with seven other states -- declared a statewide emergency in order to try to combat the tide of users looking to score drugs and dealers looking to deliver them. Another reason is that opioids were thought to be involved in 14.1 percent of all fatal crashes in the state -- a big increase above the 8.3 percent calculated back in 2006.

Researchers now say that was a mistake. The initial report looked at the toxicology reports of accident victims taken well after the accident occurred -- not just toxicology reports from blood taken at the scene of the accident. That meant that researchers were collecting data from people who died as a result of their injuries after they'd been treated by medical professionals -- often with painkillers. Once researchers corrected their methods, only 9 percent of accidents in 2017 could be attributed partly to opioid use. Statistically, that's not really a notable change since 2006.

While that might arguably be considered "good news," there still a sobering reality: Far too many drivers on the road are under the influence of mind-altering drugs. Many of those people are, statistically-speaking middle-aged, from rural areas and white.

Knowing this information may help law enforcement officers target their efforts against intoxicated drivers in a more effective manner. For the average individual, however, it is just a startling reminder that you have to constantly be on the defensive when you're behind the wheel of a car. You simply never know what's going on with another driver.

If you're involved in a serious car accident that leaves you injured, it's always wise to find out if you have a right to compensation for your injuries. You may have to endure a lengthy recovery period -- and you may need that compensation to care for your family and meet your bills in the meantime.

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