Study Finds Returning Servicemembers Involved in More Auto Accidents
Posted on Apr 1 , 2013
A new study by researchers at the United States Automobile Association (USAA) found that servicemembers recently returned from deployment experience an increased rate of automobile accidents compared to their pre-deployment records. USAA Study Findings The study looked at the driving records of over half a million troops who had been deployed a total of 171,000 times. The USAA found that these servicemembers brought war zone driving habits home with them, increasing their car accident rates. The subjects of the study experienced a 13 percent increase in at-fault accidents within six months of their return stateside, and those with three or more deployments under their belts saw a 36 percent increase in at-fault accidents. Army veterans experienced the largest increase in accidents at 23 percent of sampled servicemembers. Members of the Air Force experienced the smallest increase at just two percent. Common Driving Behaviors Reported by Recently Returning Servicemembers Many of the behaviors newly returned veterans reported were war zone driving habits. Drivers' reports noted increased speeding, straddling lanes and making sudden stops and other unpredictable movements, all behaviors that helped veterans avoid danger and stay alive in vehicle conveys while at war. One Army master sergeant's experience on American roadways illustrates the impact war zone habits have on homeland driving behaviors. While deployed, the sergeant was injured when his vehicle was targeted by a car carrying explosives. This experience has affected his driving behaviors at home. The sergeant admits that he dislikes when passenger cars on U.S. roadways merge into his lane or match his speed and avoids these situations by driving more aggressively. Common triggers for aggressive driving behavior among servicemembers include overpasses, congestion, debris on the roadway and road construction sites, especially those for pothole repair. These scenarios mimic war zone situations and cause servicemembers to rely on their war zone driving habits. University of Minnesota associate professor in occupational therapy Erica Stern informs the public and servicemembers that these driving habits are not necessarily symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder but may be simply learned behaviors. Stern believes these habits are not necessarily a threat to public safety, and encourages servicemembers to educate themselves and get support to smooth the transition from war zone driving to home front driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle crash involving a recently returned servicemember, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.