At least three people went to hospitals following a five-vehicle wreck on I-64 west of Huntington, West Virginia (WV), on the morning of April 7, 2017. The pileup involved two tractor-trailers, and the individuals known to have suffered serious injuries were in cars.
The incident happened at the approach to the Spring Valley Road bridge in the Westmoreland community of Wayne County. State troopers could not immediately figure out what set off what news reports described as a “series of crashes.” Details that were made publicly available included the fact that the driver of a car that plunged off the highway overpass sustained life-threatening injuries and that the driver and a passenger in another car appear to have been under the influence of heroin. The two people suspected of being on drugs were also identified as the other individuals who required emergency medical treatment for injuries.
Drugged driving is a serious problem even if it is not specifically to blame for this multivehicle crash outside of Huntington. It is also a growing threat to people’s lives.
Federal researchers have found that while drunk driving crashes have declined significantly over the past decade, wrecks involving drivers impaired by illegal drugs and prescription medications have increased. Opiates like heroin and opioid painkillers like Vicodin (hydrocodone) and OxyContin (oxycodone) that have many of the same effects as opiates are particularly associated with collisions that result in injuries and deaths.
As the National Institutes of health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse notes in a recently published fact sheet, “One NHTSA study found that in 2009, 18 percent of drivers killed in a crash tested positive for at least one drug. A [smaller] 2010 study showed that 11 percent of deadly crashes involved a drugged driver.”
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, in one of its own Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheets, highlighted why driving under the influence of heroin or its close chemical cousin morphine would be dangerous.
The drug manufacturer states that morphine may impair the mental and/or physical abilities needed to perform potentially hazardous activities such as driving a car, and patients must be cautioned accordingly. ... In several driving under the influence case reports, where the subjects tested positive for morphine and/or 6-acetylmorphine, observations included slow driving, weaving, poor vehicle control, poor coordination, slow response to stimuli, delayed reactions, difficultly in following instructions, and falling asleep at the wheel.
Victims of a driver impaired by drugs have strong grounds for filing personal injury claims, as do people hurt by a negligent or reckless commercial truck driver. Investigators have not yet named an at-fault driver in the multivehicle crash in Wayne County, WV. When that happens, the people harmed through no fault of their own should consider contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer to help them make their case for receiving compensation and damages.