Reckless Driving by Veterans Could Be a Symptom of PTSD

06 Feb 2012

Veterans, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, may suffer not just nightmares and flashbacks, but also an inability to drive safely. Thousands of veterans who are returning from combat duty find that it's not just their ability to integrate into their communities and families that are impacted, but also their ability to move around safely. In fact, reckless and erratic driving by veterans is being identified as a possible symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Insurer USAA has conducted a review of thousands of veterans before and after combat duty, and found that the number of accidents involving service members increased by approximately 13% after deployment. The risk of accidents was especially high during the first 6 months after an overseas tour. The data was taken from between 2007 and 2010. USAA is now collaborating with researchers, the military and other groups to devel deeper into this issue.

According to statistics, 48 soldiers died in automobile accidents last year when they were off duty. That is the highest number of fatalities involving veterans in automobile accidents in 3 years. The Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs are currently investing in research into the link between deployment and an increased risk of dangerous and aggressive driving.

The Veterans Affairs Center in Albany has already implemented a program to help veterans understand how their deployment might help push the wrong buttons when they're driving. Researchers in Palo Alto, California are developing treatment programs that they believe can help treat people with PTSD who find themselves frustrated or irritable at the wheel.

California veterans benefits lawyers are familiar with the effects of active deployment on a person's driving skills. In fact, veterans from the Gulf War and the Vietnam War have been found to be more likely to die in automobile accidents than veterans who were not deployed. However, Iraq and Afghanistan vets have been exposed to more roadside bombs, and this has possibly contributed to more severe symptoms of PTSD.