As we all know, many veterans must deal with the devastating effects of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). But that’s not the only problem soldiers face. Believe it or not, veterans of both wars have a 75% higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than civilians. In fact, those STILL in the military have a higher risk of crashing their vehicles months after returning home. And the men and women who served in multiple combat zones are at the highest risk of those accidents.
These findings are based on research and observation of service members, veterans and counselors. The explanation given is that soldiers who had to maneuver throughout roads in war zones did so with the intention of saving lives. However, those same driving habits are highly dangerous on America’s roads. Some of these maneuvers include racing through intersections, driving in two lanes, swerving on bridges and not wearing seat belts because they prevent them from what they perceive as a rapid escape.
Another major contributing factor is the obvious – PTSD. Thousands of veterans suffer from this horrible disorder, and unfortunately, a major symptom of PTSD is drunken driving. This evidence is based on both research and testimonies from other veterans.
According to Bruce H. Jones, a physician and epidemiologist who heads the Army’s Injury Prevention Program at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, “Before suicides became the leading cause of non-battle injuries, motor vehicle accidents were.”
Further research is needed but it is anticipated that findings will support the fact that motor vehicle crashes will rival suicide and interpersonal violence as a consequence of fighting overseas. Motor vehicle accidents in the military are nothing new, however. From 1999 – 2012, as many active-duty military personnel died in noncombat vehicle crashes both on and off duty as were killed in the Iraq war (with 4,423 deaths from accidents and 4,409 killed in Iraq). These are astounding statistics!
Men who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have a 76% higher rate of dying in motor vehicle crashes and women have a 43% higher rate than civilians. This same phenomenon happened with Persian Gulf War veterans.
Motorcycle crashes among veterans resulted in increased fatalities during these wars, accounting for 14% of military traffic deaths in 2001 and rising to 38% in 2008. The total rate of motorcycle deaths tripled during this period.