David Brown of The Washington Post has published a piece on a little-known risk to returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars: motor vehicle crashes. According to the report, which sources both professional research and observations of service members, vets and their counselors, 75 percent of returning vets have a higher rate of fatal car crashes than the civilian population. Likewise, active duty troops are involved in more accidents after their deployments than before, and the likelihood of an accident goes up with each successive tour of duty. In fact, motor vehicle fatalities will soon rank right up there with suicide and interpersonal violence as a leading cause of non-combat deaths.

The reasons why our nation's service members are at such high risk for motor vehicle crashes include, of course, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a contributing factor, as well as drunken driving and seeking out thrills to replace the rush of actual combat in civilian life. The latter is likely why fatal motorcycle crashes in particular spike during wartime.

The final reason mentioned by Brown in his piece, however, is one we hadn't considered, which is that returning service members haven't unlearned the aggressive driving behaviors that kept them alive in a war zone. Racing through intersections, straddling lanes, swerving on bridges and even not wearing seat belts because they hinder a quick escape are all cited in the report as behavior learned in combat that becomes very dangerous when it happens on the home front.

According to Brown, this problem is only beginning to get attention from the military, and research is still hard to come by as recruiting willing test subjects is not easy. The data, however, that points to motor vehicle crashes as a rapidly growing risk for our active and retired service members is conclusive. Click here to read Brown's full report.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wasn't this a story well over a year ago? Maybe even on AB?
        A Human Being
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MONTEGOD7SS
        Yup. I did a quick search and found an article titled "Returning U.S. soldiers have trouble with road rules at home."
      Apexed1st
      • 1 Year Ago
      A second consideration is that the military attracts the type of people that will have a higher risk of being in a accident. I have been on active duty for a few years, and almost every one of my peers have an "A" type personality and get in frequent accidents before they even deploy. It just comes down to the driving style of the majority of strong-headed 19 year olds. This sounds like an issue that could be mitigated with post deployment defensive driving classes though.
      vizcarmb
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah, cause you know we like to run over stuff
      Awhattup
      • 1 Year Ago
      Every 80 minutes, a veteran commits suicide.
      vince
      • 1 Year Ago
      "75 percent of returning vets have a higher rate of fatal car crashes than the civilian population", this should read that returning vets are 75 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident as compared the the general population. This is definitely a concerning statistic, but I would imagine a lot of the returning vets are males in the 20s, a segment of the population who is already at high risk for fatal car crashes. For comparison, the fatality rate among young drivers (approximately ~27 deaths per 100,000 drivers) is 100% higher than that of the general population (double the ~13 deaths per 100k driver). Normalize the data by grouping the vets into age brackets and then compare the rates and I bet that headline grabbing 75% goes down significantly.
      RetrogradE
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well, that's TODAY's study. Tomorrow it'll be different. Thursday, scientists will tell you that wearing denim will turn you sterile over time, but can be counteracted by a glass of wine at night. And coffee is both bad and good for you at the same time. Who gives a crap? If you're a vet with issues (I'm pro-military), get the help you need and get busy living.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
        LongIslandSteven
        • 1 Year Ago
        "According to the report, which sources both professional research and observations of service members, vets and their counselors" You seem to assume the purpose of the report is to put down active/ex service members - have you considered that good can come of making these findings known? Instead of just looking the other way and letting them get into more accidents than the average person, we can get them some help to adjust. Of course, getting them help would also mean using tax money...
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        Dumb remark. YOU try living on an E4 pay with a wife and one child, even in Killeen, TX.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @SloopJohnB
          [blocked]
      throwback
      • 1 Year Ago
      "..returning service members haven't unlearned the aggressive driving behaviors that kept them alive in a war zone." I noticed this with my nephew. It took him about a year to get used to driving in traffic.
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      We will be paying the cost of those wars for next hundred years.
        chromal
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        This is true. Politicians are ignorant of or sweep under the rug the true cost of wars, and the effects that these have on our service men and women and their families. War should only be in response to exceptional threat to the existence of our nation or allies, something we haven't seen since the Korean war. Why? Because the cost is so great. Nothing we've achieved in Iraq can justify the cost, and Afghanistan is debatable too, after 2002 or so.
      v6sonoma
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm not surprised. While deployed they make a lot more money and usually bank it then come home and buy a Mustang, Camaro, Sport bike, etc. I see a lot of service men and women buying new sports cars. Then some of them drive them a little to aggressively on the street and wreck. I'm sure that's not the whole story but I do believe it's part of why the numbers are skewed that way.
        kuntknife
        • 1 Year Ago
        @v6sonoma
        In reality, this article is a study to see if people actually read the damn article. "The reasons why our nation's service members are at such high risk for motor vehicle crashes include, of course, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a contributing factor, as well as drunken driving and seeking out thrills to replace the rush of actual combat in civilian life"
      caddy-v
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nothing, not even vets or the elderly could be more dangerous than a ditsy blonde in her early driving career trying to put on her make up, combing her hair, plucking nose hairs, drinking a latte and whitening her teeth all while texting on the hand held and talking on the onstar all at the same time.
      AcidTonic
      • 1 Year Ago
      So like every other risk group, they pay more than non-vets for car insurance right? Or are they special because it's the military?
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @AcidTonic
        Sometimes more because of age and gender, often less because of USAA and cars/bikes put away on deployment.
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