The most recent figures, taken in 2009, show that 37,485 people died in traffic-related accidents, while 36,284 people died from drug-related activities during said one-year period.
Surprisingly, the drugs involved weren’t street drugs, but rather prescriptions like Xanax, OxyContin, and the number one killer, Vicodin, which killed more people than heroin and cocaine combined.
One Santa Barbara sheriff says, “The problem is right here under our noses in our medicine cabinets.”
The study also showed that traffic-related deaths have actually dropped by over 30 percent since the 1970s (even as the number of drivers continues to increase), while drug-related deaths have doubled over the last ten years. What’s worse is that fatalities among 50- to 69-year-olds have been even worse than that, tripling over the same period.
Not all of the deaths have come via overdose. In many cases, double dosing by adults has been to blame.
When asked how drug related deaths can be reduced or prevented, one researcher said:
“What’s really scary is we don’t know a lot about how to reduce prescription deaths,” adding, “It’s a wonderful medical advancement that we can treat pain, but we haven’t figured out the safety belt yet.”
In light of this new study, parents are urged to speak with their children not just about illegal street drugs, but also about the medications found in medicine cabinets, which can be just as deadly.
- Drug Deaths Soar Past Traffic Fatalities (newser.com)
- Drug Deaths Outnumber Traffic Deaths In The U.S. For The First Time (articles.businessinsider.com)