When I first read the L.A. Times headline, I couldn’t imagine why troops who returned home would be particularly poor drivers. Are they more prone to driving under the influence? Are they suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, maybe having flashbacks? Have they given up caring? Or do they feel invincible?
Some of the above:
Members of the U.S. military — especially enlisted troops in the Army and Marines — were significantly more likely to cause auto accidents within six months of returning from deployment, according to a study by USAA Property and & Casualty Insurance Group, a major insurer for military families.
These veterans probably are engaging in survival driving habits for a war zone, such as not stopping in traffic, driving fast and making sudden, unpredictable turns, experts said. But those same driving practices create havoc back in the United States. [...]
Officers had far lower accident rates than enlisted troops, and drivers younger than 22 were more prone to crashes than older members of the military.
The good news is that there wasn’t a rise in fatal accidents.
Bradley Hammond, who left the Army after serving in Iraq in 2006:
“I want to drive as close to the middle as I can because subconsciously if I see a box or some trash on the side of the road I am thinking it will explode,” said Hammond of Lakewood, Colo. “Sometimes I get a feeling someone is following me and I just turn. Something will set me off.”
Wars, and in this case IEDs, have taken such a heavy toll on lives and on psyches.
Interestingly, none of the non-deployed service members surveyed reported anxiety while driving.