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Military personnel more likely to be involved in car accidents

Data is showing that military veterans have an increased risk of being involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident. This is alarming for many in Pennsylvania as loved ones returning from deployments are often welcome sights that instill feelings of comfort and eliminate worry and dread. But researchers have uncovered that men who served in either the Iraq or Afghanistan wars are 76 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than civilians. Women who served in either war are 43 percent more likely. Anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident should contact an attorney, especially if they are injured and the other driver can be held responsible.

There are several reasons why military veterans have a higher chance of being involved in a fatal accident. Researchers believe that some of the major reasons involve driving habits that were developed while at war. These include straddling lanes, racing through intersections, swerving on bridges and neglecting to wear a seat belt--each of these help soldiers in situations involving roadside bombs, crashes or attacks. If these behaviors are brought back to roads in the U.S. and Pennsylvania, they are no longer the safest way to drive.

In addition to driving habits, it is likely that post-traumatic stress disorder plays a large role in motor vehicle fatalities after returning from the military. Reports indicate that PTSD increases the risk of aggressive driving. Studies also note that thrill-seeking and drunk driving are more prevalent in individuals after they return from combat. This is highlighted by an internal study conducted by an insurance company that covers thousands of military personnel.

The insurance company, USAA, offers a deal for people during deployment that gives them cheaper insurance if the vehicle is securely stored while they are abroad. Many clients choose to do this. Consequently, the company has 171,000 records of before-and-after scenarios for individuals deployed to the most recent wars. According to an analysis, military personnel are more likely to be involved in an at-fault accident during the six months after their return than the six months before their departure.

Source:  Denver Post, "Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans" David Brown, May. 06, 2013

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Gregory R. Gifford
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