Returning soldiers more likely to be in car crashes
Soldiers who have recently returned from war are more likely to be involved in car crashes according to a new study. The report found that soldiers were involved in an average of 13% more at-fault collisions in the first 6 months after returning from deployment when compared with the 6 months before deployment.
Rates appeared to differ by military branch, with Army veterans facing the highest increase in collisions (23%), followed by Marines (12.5%), Navy (3%), and Air Force (2%). Rates also appeared to increase further among soldiers who had been through multiple deployments. Soldiers deployed 3 or more times had a 36% increase in collisions, while those deployed once faced a 12% increase.
The study was conducted by USAA, a major insurer catering to military personnel and their families. The rates are based on 158,000 USAA members and a total of 171,000 military deployments.
Analysts believe that the increase in collisions may be due to soldiers bringing home certain driving behaviors from their deployment. Those could include speeding, reluctance to stop at intersections, or being overly attentive to roadside distractions or objects in the road. While essential in a combat situation, these behaviors are risky on suburban roads. Other research has found that newly-returned soldiers feel anxious when behind the wheel or when other vehicles approach their car quickly.
This study adds to the growing knowledge of physical and psychological effects of war. Soldiers returning from combat, often with mild traumatic brain injuries, face an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.
Returning soldiers have more car crashes: study. Reuters Health. April 24, 2012.
"Returning Warriors: Driving Safety Report 2012." USAA.