According to research that is beginning to come to light, veterans of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are dramatically more likely to find themselves involved in a serious and potentially fatal car accident. For some veterans, the risk of dying in a fatal car crash is 76 percent higher than for drivers in the general population.
Several factors might play a role in this dangerous trend. For starters, many veterans might bring certain driving habits home with them. These habits, such as speeding, failing to slow at intersections, and swerving evasively in narrow areas like bridges, played a valuable role in warzones like Iraq where guerilla tactics were so dangerous for our troops. But the same habits here at home can easily cause a deadly wreck.
Another factor might be post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD is poking its head into many seemingly unconnected areas of veterans’ lives and driving is likely no exception. A common symptom of PTSD involves unnecessarily aggressive reactions to objectively minor stressors.
Whatever the cause, families and policymakers need to be aware of this deadly pattern – obviously we need to do everything we can to help veterans avoid fatal car wrecks.
Source: Washington Post, “Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan,” David Brown, May 5, 2013