Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have a higher risk of being killed in a car accident in Ohio and throughout the country, according to a new study. The study reported that these veterans have been involved in more fatal car crashes in the U.S. compared to civilians.
The study found that veterans who served multiple tours of duty in combat zones have the highest risk of being in a fatal car accident. Veterans face the highest risk of being in an accident during the first three months after returning to the U.S. compared to right before they are deployed.
Reports show that car accidents are very risky for veterans. Male veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are 76 percent more likely to die in a car accident, and female veterans are 43 percent more likely to be killed in a crash. Researchers said that the same thing happened to veterans of the Gulf War in the past.
Why are veterans more likely to be killed in a car accident? Research indicates that there are multiple reasons for the heightened risk of being in a fatal crash. Studies show that many veterans drive like they did in war zones. While this type of driving was necessary and lifesaving in many cases, these driving behaviors can be very dangerous and lead to a car accident.
Some of the dangerous driving behaviors exhibited by veterans include speeding, running through intersections, swerving on bridges and not wearing a seat belt. In addition to these behaviors, many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and studies found that this can make a person a more aggressive driver on the road.
Many veterans involved in the studies displayed several risky behaviors behind the wheel that increased their chances of being in an accident. In addition to the dangerous behaviors mentioned above, many veterans with PTSD responded in a survey that they did not always wear their seat belts and one-quarter said they got behind the wheel after drinking. This also increases the risk of being in a fatal crash.
Safety advocates said that returning veterans need more programs to help them readjust to civilian life, including safe driving behaviors and ways to reduce the risk of being in a car accident.
Source: The Day, "Motor vehicle crashes: a little-known risk to returning veterans," David Brown, May 6, 2013