Returning servicemembers at higher risk of car accidents

Thousands of families in Massachusetts are welcoming home servicemen and women with relief and joy. Unfortunately, these heroes could still face danger upon their return. A new study shows that military servicemembers face an elevated risk of being involved in car accidents upon returning to the United States.

Shocking figures reveal that, on average, returning soldiers face a 13 percent greater chance of having a car accident in the first six months they are home compared to the previous six months they spent surviving the danger-ridden roads of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The in-depth study was conducted by a major insurer that caters to members of the armed forces and their families. The study analyzed about 171,000 deployments of 158,000 servicemembers over a three-year time period. The study concluded in February 2010, a time when combat was still raging on in the Middle East.

The study concluded that returning members of the Army fared the worst, experiencing a 23 percent greater accident rate during their first six months back home. Marine veterans registered a 12.5 percent hike in their accident rates, on average. Less impacted were returned veterans of the Navy and Air Force, but their accident rates were still up by 3 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Interestingly, the study revealed that “objects in the road” was the most common reason for accidents on United States soil, which led researchers to conclude that returning soldiers may be applying the same driving techniques at home that they used in highly-dangerous driving terrain overseas. The trauma of being in war could also be a cause of accidents, experts say.

Source: Reuters, “Returning soldiers have more car crashes: study,” Ben Berkowitz, April 24, 2012