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Risky driving replaces risks in battle for some military vets

After risking their lives in battle, some military veterans have a difficult transition to more sedate civilian life when they return home. Some of them replace the risks in battle with risks on roads.

According to a study by the Veteran's Administration, 36 percent of veterans home from Iraq and Afghanistan report dangerous driving that has been noticed by others. Unfortunately, taking risks on roads too often leads to car accidents, injuries and fatalities.

In a Walter Reed Army Institute of Research study of more than 2000 veterans of Iraq, researchers linked certain combat experiences, such as killing a person, to a "somewhat greater willingness to engage in risky behaviors such as driving fast, taking dangerous shortcuts and seeking out high-thrill activities upon their return home."

Another study of veterans returning from deployment were 75 percent more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident than civilians of comparable age, gender and race. And they were nearly 150 percent more likely to die on motorcycles.

At Fort Hood, an Army base in Texas, officials now require all soldiers and all civilians on the base to take motorcycle safety classes and wear safety gear if they ride on the base.

Ten Fort Hood soldiers and civilians have died in motorcycle crashes in just the past year; more than 40 have died in the past five years.

A psychologist who works with veterans said motorcycles are particularly attractive to many of them: "They do provide that adrenaline rush. And there's a post-combat invincibility. You think, 'I just came back from Iraq, so how dangerous is going 100 mph on a motorcycle?'"

Our Wisconsin law firm represents clients injured in accidents. For more information, visit our La Crosse car accidents page.

Source: Austin American-Statesman, "After returning home, many veterans get into motor vehicle accidents," Sept. 30, 2012

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