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Soldiers returning home linked to increased risk of car accidents

Traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder is well-documented in members of the military who have served in combat. Reports of mood swings, irritability and depression have been noted by family members and loved ones of those who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now, a study conducted by an insurance company has produced evidence that military members, especially those serving in the Army and the Marines, are significantly more likely to cause a car accident within 6 months of returning home from deployment.

Understanding that veterans who engaged in survival driving habits for a war zone, including not stopping at traffic lights, making fast and unpredictable turns, and driving to avoid roadside bombs have created unsafe driving habits when driving in cities and suburbs, including those in Connecticut and throughout the United States.

The insurance company looked at the driving histories for members of the military, comparing their records for the six months prior to deployment and then the six months after returning home. They found a 13% increase in at-fault accidents for troops within the six months after their return home. Accident rates were much higher for Army and Marine veterans than Navy and Air Force veterans.

The driving habits are reinforced not only by time in combat, but by military training. Some veterans even attested to the fact that they drove differently after deployment, being uncomfortable with other cars being too close, or driving at the same speed as other vehicles. These defensive habits often lead to aggressive driving, improper merging or cutting other drivers off.

It is unclear whether these results will play a future roll in assessing insurance rates and premiums or in litigation involving car accidents and injury.

Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Troops back from deployment more likely to cause car accidents," Jerry Hirsch, April 24, 2012.

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