It's No Accident: Returning Soldiers Have More Car Crashes
A study by the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), found Army soldiers back from Iraq and Afghanistan have a 23 percent increase in car wrecks and Marines suffered a 12.5 percent increase.
June 17, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- A study by an insurer indicates soldiers returning from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are much more prone to car wrecks. Soldiers from the Army showed a 23 percent increase and those from the Marine Corps had a 12.5 percent.
The study by the United Services Automobile Association (USAA), an insurer that covers substantial numbers of military service members, examined 171,000 deployments by 158,000 soldiers from 2007 to 2010.
More Deployments = More Accidents
The report indicated "a direct correlation between the number of deployments and the rate of accidents." Those deployed more frequently had more accidents, with one deployment showing a 12 percent increase, two deployments, a 27 percent increase, and those with three or more deployment having a 36 percent increase.
A 2009 military study found that since 2001 deployments for reservists had averaged from eight to 14 months in duration.
The majority of accidents were attributed to "losing control of the vehicle." Drivers who reported "objects in the road" as a reason for the accident increased significantly after a deployment, and ranked first among 12 potential causes of accidents.
Younger drivers were also more likely to have motor vehicle accidents, with drivers younger than 22 years-old showing the largest increase, at 25 percent.
The Army Office of The Surgeon General created a brochure to help soldiers with the transition from active combat to returning home, and it highlights the types of dangerous driving behavior that could carryover and cause accidents when driving in stateside traffic.
The brochure notes that driving behavior learned in combat areas, such as changing lanes or direction unexpectedly, especially at tunnels or underpasses to avoid potential ambushes, can translate to weaving through traffic, failing to signal turns and avoiding or changing lanes near tunnels or bridges.
Aggressive Driving Learned in Combat Zones Can Be Dangerous Back Home
Aggressive driving is essential to survival in an environment where many soldiers have been killed or wounded by IEDs in or near the roadside, and where obstructions can hide an ambush.
However, when making the transition back to the States, those same driving habits increase the risk of an accident on busy and congested streets and highways.
Professor Stern of the University of Minnesota looked at this behavior and found a clear increase in dangerous driving activity. He is working with the Defense Department on organizing a more thorough nationwide study of returning soldiers and their driving behavior.
For servicemembers, their families and all drivers on the roads, a study like this serves as a reminder that car accidents can happen for the most unexpected of reasons. All drivers should review their insurance coverage, to make certain that they have adequate coverage to protect themselves and their families, and to help deal with the unexpected.
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