A recent washingtonexaminer.com article has revealed some startling statistics regarding the increase in deaths caused by drug use and overdose in comparison to a decrease in traffic-related fatalities. Washington State is among 16 others in the United States where it would seem that motorists are becoming more cautious when driving but taking more risks when it comes to drugs. So, can this information lead us to simply conclude that the legal and illegal use of prescription painkillers is on the upswing? And, has driving really become safer?
The article stated that based on recent CDC data, the drug-related death rate has almost doubled from the late 1990s to 2006. On the other hand, a decrease in auto accident fatalities is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, revealing that throughout the U.S., traffic fatalities dropped by approximately 6.5 percent from 1999 through 2006 (a drop from 15.3 deaths per 100,000 people to 14.3 per 100,000).
Aside from Washington state, the other locations in which drug-related deaths have risen above traffic fatalities include: Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois. Although it is not apparent at this time as to why these particular U.S. States have experienced such a change, experts are wondering if certain drugs in particular may be more of an issue in some states than they are in others.
For instance, in Washington, a University of Washington research scientist said that half of the opiate medication deaths reported in King County, which includes Seattle, involved patients who obtained their drugs legally through prescription. This researcher also noted that since the 1990s, doctors have been prescribing painkillers, including opiates, at an increasing rate after acknowledging that chronic pain was being undertreated. Even so, it may surprise most people that according to the article, about one in five U.S. adults and one in 10 adolescents are prescribed an opiate drug each year.
While it is encouraging to learn that auto accidents are causing fewer fatalities in Washington and across the U.S., it is definitely not good news that more drug-related deaths are taking place and claiming the lives of innocent people. It is our hope as skilled Washington personal injury attorneys at the Bernard Law Group that deaths related to drug overdose and use show a decrease, in addition to a drop in traffic fatalities.