By the Numbers - May 6, 2013

By the Numbers - May 6, 2013


According to a recent Washington Post story -- Motor vehicle crashes: A little-known risk to returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan -- veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, after they leave active service, have a 75% higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than civilians.

The most common explanation is that troops bring back driving habits that were lifesaving in war zones but are dangerous on America’s roads. They include racing through intersections, straddling lanes, swerving on bridges and, for some, not wearing seat belts because they hinder a rapid escape.

That’s probably not the whole story, however. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suffered by thousands of veterans, increases aggressive driving. Drunken driving and thrill-seeking also are more common after combat, according to a few studies and the testimony of many veterans.

The article also notes that from 1999 through 2012, as many active-duty service members died in "noncombat motor vehicle crashes" (4,423) as were casualties of the Iraq war (4,409).