Statement on Opioids and Motor Vehicle Crash Prevention

The following statement was developed by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma’s (COT) Injury Prevention and Control Committee to educate surgeons and other health care professionals on the risk of motor vehicle crashes due to driving under the influence of opioids and evidence-based prevention activities intended to alleviate opioid-related motor vehicle injuries. The ACS Board of Regents approved the statement at its June 2017 meeting in Chicago, IL.

The ACS recognizes the following facts:

  • The preponderance of medical research in the last 30 years has shown a positive association between the concurrent use of opioids and motor vehicle crashes.
  • Driving under the influence of controlled substances, including opioids, leads to impaired driving.

The ACS supports efforts to promote, enact, and sustain legislation and policies that encourage the following:

  • Educating patients on the dangers of driving or engaging in other hazardous activities while taking opioids
  • Educating patients using opioids about the potential risks of using concurrent psychoactive substances
  • Requiring prescribers to be certain their patients receive instructions about what constitutes safe use of opioids, sedatives, and other psychoactive medications

Bibliography

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Center for Substance Abuse Research. University of Maryland. One-third of fatally injured drivers with known test results tested positive for at least one drug in 2009. Cesar Fax. 2010;19(4). Available at: www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/cesarfax/vol19/19-49.pdf. Accessed August 30, 2017.

Disney L, Pelkey S, Wipperman M, et al. Drug testing and drug-involved driving of fatally injured drivers in the United States: 2005–2009. Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President. October 2011.Available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/issues-content/fars_report_october_2011.pdf. Accessed August 25, 2017.

DuPont, RL, Logan, BK, Shea CL, et al. Drugged driving research: A white paper. Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. March 31, 2011. Available at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/ondcp/issues-content/drugged-driving/nida_dd_paper.pdf. Accessed August 25, 2017.

Gjerde H, Strand MC, Mørland J. Driving under the influence of non-alcohol drugs–an update, part I: Epidemiological studies. Forensic Sci Rev. 2015;27(2):89-113.

Gomes T, Redelmeier DA, Juurlink DN, Dhalla IA, Camacho X, Mamdani MM. Opioid dose and risk of road trauma in Canada: A population-based study. JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(3):196-201.

Hetland A, Carr DB. Medications and impaired driving: A review of the literature. Ann Pharmacother. 2014;48(4):494-506.

Monarrez-Espino J, Laflamme L, Rausch C, Elling B, Möller J. New opioid analgesic use and the risk of injurious single-vehicle crashes in drivers aged 50–80 years: A population-based matched case-control study. Age and Ageing. 2016;45(5):628-634.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Drugged driving. Drug facts. Revised June 2016. Available at: www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drugged-driving. Accessed August 25, 2017.

Teater D. The psychological and physical side effects of pain medications. National Safety Council. February 15, 2015. Available at: www.nsc.org/RxDrugOverdoseDocuments/900006497-ADV-Rx-Side-Effects-WhitePaper.pdf. Accessed August 25, 2017.

U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts. Drug involvement of fatally injured drivers. November 2010. Available at: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811415. Accessed August 25, 2017.

Walsh JM, Flegel R, Atkins R, et al. Drug and alcohol use among drivers admitted to a level-1 trauma center. Accid Anal Prev. 2005;37(5):894-901.

Wilson F A, Stimpson, J P, Pagán J A. Fatal crashes from drivers testing positive for drugs in the U.S., 1993–2010. Public Health Rep. 2014;129(4):342-350.

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