In an odd phenomenon, recent studies have shown that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are at a much higher risk for car wrecks than the general population. The studies have found:
- Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have a 75 percent higher rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents than do civilians (with a large portion of these being from motorcycle wrecks).
- Veterans are much more likely to be in a wreck in the six months after deployment than the six months before deployment.
- The more combat tours the veterans had completed the higher risk that they become involved in an accident.
These numbers are startling, but there are some explanations.
Some theorize that troops come back with driving habits that help them while deployed (rushing through intersections, etc.) that help survive overseas but contribute to higher wrecks back at home.
Others theorize that post traumatic stress disorder, which is becoming all too common in returning troops, causes aggressive driving.
Personally, I wonder if there’s another explanation. Suicide amongst veterans is the leading cause of non-battle deaths. Social scientists have long understood that suicides dramatically increase after a highly publicized suicide. This is known as the Werther effect. However, not only do obvious suicides increase, but fatal car accidents and even plane accidents increase significantly after a publicized suicide. The theory is that for many people, they do not want to have appeared to have killed themselves. Instead, they may purposefully cause a wreck or accident so it seems that they died accidentally.
Regardless, these men and women have served us, and our military owes it to them to try and help protect them from these fatal accidents, whatever the cause.