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Study: New sleeping pill users have increased risk of crashing

A recent study found that new users of prescription sleep aids have crash risk that is equal to that of having a BAC level of 0.06 percent to 0.11 percent.

The Virginia Highway Safety Office reports that auto accidents resulted in 753 deaths and injuries to 65,029 people in 2015. Any number of factors contributed to such motor vehicle collisions, including the use of prescription sleeping pills. In fact, a recent study found that new users of these hypnotic sedative medications have an increased risk of being involved in a wreck.

FDA warns of possible danger

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about prescription sleep aids in 2013. The regulatory agency advised physicians to prescribe the lowest dose possible. Their recommendation was based on research which showed that sleeping pills may remain in the bloodstream in high levels well into the morning. Consequently, the research showed that drivers’ ability to safely operate their vehicles may be compromised.

Examining the link between sleeping pill use and collision risk

Researchers from the University of Washington performed a study to understand the link between drivers’ use of prescription sleep aids and their risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. For the study, they looked at the prescription and driving records for 409,171 licensed Washington state drivers. Of these motorists, nearly 6 percent were prescribed sleep medications from 2003 to 2008. The research team employed proportional hazards regression in conjunction with three popular sleeping pills – temazepam, zolpidem and trazodone.

Use of sleep aids increases risk of crashing

The researchers found that an increased collision risk is associated with the new use of Restoril, Ambien or Oleptro. Based on the study’s findings, people who are starting taking these medications have anywhere from 25 percent to three times greater risk of being involved in a crash. This level of risk is akin to having a blood alcohol level of between 0.06 percent and 0.11 percent. Accidents involving the use of sleep aids may result in serious injuries or death for the drivers who are taking the medications, as well as for any passengers and the other motorists who are involved.

Consulting with an attorney

Whether due to sleeping pill use, alcohol intoxication or any other factors, Virginians may be seriously injured when involved in auto accidents. As a result, they may lose income while they are off work recovering, incur undue medical expenses or suffer other losses. In some cases, the at-fault driver may be held liable for these types of damages. Therefore, those who have experienced situations such as this may benefit from discussing their rights and options with a legal representative.

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