USAA, an insurance company dedicated to military personnel and veterans, has recently released the Returning Warriors study which examined driving incidents of returning military personnel from 2007-2010. The study included over 171,000 deployments to various overseas operations and compared the crash rates post return to their pre-deployment driving history.
Overall the report shows a 13% increase in at-fault crashes within the first 6 months after returning from deployment. This is a significant increase which indicates that some attention is required to help our troops when returning from overseas.
More findings from the study:
- Army veterans (23%) had the highest increase in crash rate compared to Marines (12.5%), Navy (3%), and Air Force (2%).
- The majority of crashes were attributed to "losing control of the vehicle" according to drivers.
- Drivers under 22 had the largest increase in at-fault crashes (25%) compared to drivers over 29 who had a dramatically lower increase of 7.5%.
- The number of deployments was a large factor as those with 3 or more deployments having 36% more crashes, those with 2 deployments having 27%, and those with 1 deployment had a 12% increase.
According to the study, the root of the problem is that the driving skills that served the troops well in combat do not work once back on the streets in the U.S. The following table shows a summary of the issues at the core of the problem.
|In Combat||At Home|
|Drives as far as possible from road edge to avoid IEDs.||Drives in middle of road, straddling lanes.|
|Changes direction and lanes unexpectedly, especially at tunnels or underpasses where insurgents might be waiting.||Weaves through traffic. Does not signal turns, merges or lane changes. Avoids or changes lanes at underpasses and tunnels.|
|Always moving. Does not stop for traffic or people. Always has right of way.||Anxious when stopped. Rolls through traffic lights and stop signs. Does not yield right of way to other vehicles.|
|Speeds as fast as the lead vehicle in a convoy.||Drives over posted speed limit.|
|Hypervigilant of roadside elements.||Overly attentive to roadside elements.|
Source: Office Of The Surgeon General
The main goal of this study was to raise the awareness that troops returning home need to change their habits in order to avoid danger at home. A combination of raising this awareness coupled with a bit of "re-entry" training would seem to be a good combination for making our returning troops a bit safer at home.