Driving after Deployment Poses a Risk to Veterans

There is growing concern over a "little-known risk" to our military veterans: motor vehicle accidents.

New statistics show that among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars there is a 75 percent higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than among civilians. Additionally, active troops have a higher chance of crashing their cars just after returning from deployment than just before leaving for deployment.

Because of the drastic change from military life to civilian life, veterans often find it difficult to adjust back to daily driving on American roads. Techniques that were considered lifesaving in war, such as not wearing a seat belt to help with easy escape, become dangerous on civilian roads. However, adjusting back to life at home is not the only obstacle.

One report suggests that veterans' poor driving habits "could be mediated by distress or mental disorders." Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects thousands of military veterans, and it is likely that PTSD is a leading factor in both aggressive and anxious driving.

Thrill-seeking upon returning from war is also to blame for the high accident statistics. Veterans have been known to buy motorcycles to compensate for the lack of thrill they experience when adjusting to civilian life. Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes have also spiked heavily. Of all military traffic deaths, motorcycle crashes accounted for 38 percent in 2008, compared to only 14 percent in 2001.

Studies have been done to see the affect deployment has on driving. In a survey of veterans enrolled in a PTSD treatment program, 25 percent said they had driven drunk since their return, and 20 percent said they wore seat belts "less than sometimes." In another study using before and after deployment records, it was found that as number of deployments went up, so did the chance of accidents. Those who had been deployed 3 times were 36 percent more likely to have accidents than civilians, those who had been deployed 2 times were 27 percent more likely, and those who had been deployed once were 12 percent more likely.

Programs at VA hospitals encourage driving rehabilitation, offering help to those veterans who are driving aggressively, those who are driving anxiously, and even those who are too nervous to drive again.

Are You a Military Veteran Suffering From PTSD, or Were You Injured in a Car Accident?

Here at Edgar Snyder & Associates, we understand that the horrors of war do not end as soon as you come home. If you are suffering from PTSD, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Or, if you have been injured in a car or motorcycle accident, you may be eligible for compensation for missed work, medical bills, and other costs to you. You may have a case, and we're here to help you. Call 412-545-6104, or fill out the form at the top right of this webpage for a no obligation, free legal consultation. Learn your legal options today.

"Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.” The Washington Post. May 5, 2013.

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