A unique study was conducted by USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group, a major insurer of military families, to see whether there was an increase in at-fault automobile accidents of troops returning to the United States from deployment. According to an article in The North County Times, USAA compared the driving record for each member in the study for the six months prior to deployment to their driving record after returning to the States from deployment.
The insurance company started the study in January 2007, including 158,000 troops in their observations. Our San Diego car accident lawyer recognizes that studies such as this are extremely helpful in understanding the behavior of certain drivers in order to ultimately implement precautions with the objective of decreasing the occurrences of preventable automobile accidents.
After observation of Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force troops, the study revealed that members of the United States military returning to the States within six months from deployment had an increased likelihood of causing automobile accidents. Analysts, such as Todd Rockwood who is a professor of public health at the University of Minnesota, suspect that this increased likelihood is due to the significant difference in the state-of-mind that troops have in a war zone. More specifically, unlike the safer climate in the United States, troops are under the constant stress of operating survival methods in a treacherous war zone. Such a mindset logically affects driving habits in dangerous situations, causing an individual to be less prone to following basic traffic rules for the simple reason of being concerned with dodging attacks and staying alive. Professor Rockwood states, “Things like obeying traffic signals and coming to a full and complete stop – those aren’t good in a war zone. Moving targets are harder to hit.”
From the results of the study, one can surmise that war veterans have a difficult time transitioning from a war zone to normal conditions. This explains the increase in automobile accidents among troops who have returned to the States within six months of deployment. Our San Diego automobile accident attorney appreciates that it would be unreasonable to expect troops to immediately return to a normal mindset after having experienced the unforgiving conditions or a war zone for a long period of time.
Bradley Hammond, a retired Iraq veteran, addresses this phenomenon. When he returned to the States after his deployment in Iraq, Hammond continued to perform military tactics, forcing him to display erratic driving behavior due to his preconception that enemies were constantly following him on the road. Like Hammond, the large majority of troops who have returned to the United States from war zones exude unsafe driving habits. Such behavior can greatly increase the likelihood of automobile accidents, and the study by USAA has clearly shown the correlation between war veterans and automobile accidents.
The United States military makes great efforts in helping troops returning home from war zones in making a smooth transition to their safe environment. Although such measures make a difference in the reconditioning of troops, they do not have the power to completely change the state-of-mind of a soldier to one that is operating under normal conditions. Therefore, it is unlikely to prevent all unfortunate incidents, such as automobile accidents.
Although the total prevention of automobile accidents caused by war veterans is ideal, the reality is that such accidents cannot be completely avoided. Therefore, as the USAA study shows, we can expect an increased number of automobile accidents upon the return of troops from deployments, further causing an increase in the number of individuals who have suffered injuries and are in need of compensation to help in their recovery. Our experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer can provide the requisite advice needed to help protect the legal rights of individuals who have suffered injuries from any kind of accident.
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(Photo Courtesy of Hamed Saber)