An SUV crashed in North Carolina after all four occupants overdosed on heroin. The same day, a Williamsport, Pa., man grabbed the steering wheel after his grandson lost consciousness while driving. Police in the city of 30,000 responded to 11 other overdose reports that day, including a woman who crashed her car just before a highway entrance. Car crashes caused by overdosing drivers are becoming so commonplace, authorities say, that some rescue crews immediately administer the antidote, naloxone, to any unresponsive driver they find after an accident, the Associated Press reports. People who use heroin and related drugs are sometimes so eager to get high, or so sick from withdrawal, that they’ll shoot up in the car as soon as they get their hands on more. Often they’re back on the road before the overdose takes hold, and they lose consciousness, a recipe for traffic accidents.
Police and rescue crews say drivers overdosing on heroin and other drugs are pushing up the number of car crashes. “There’s no waiting period like we used to see with other drugs where you go buy it, then go home and get high, or go to a party and get high,” said Scott Houston, a major with the sheriff’s office in Pamlico County, N.C., where the SUV crashed June 29. Drunken-driving deaths are on the decline, dropping 24 percent since 2006, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Meanwhile, deaths in crashes involving drugs are soaring. Ohio saw 4,615 drug-related crashes last year, an increase of more than 21 percent since 2013. Pennsylvania saw a similar spike, with drugged-driving crashes jumping from 3,019 in 2011 to 4,078 last year.