For some troops returning from deployment, transitioning back to civilian life involves road rage, and trying to shake the idea that the Toyota Corolla in the next lane is trying to blow you to bits. The United Services Automobile Association has found that troops back from deployment had "13 percent more at-fault accidents" or, more simply, were more likely to get into accidents in the six months after their return than in the six months before they were deployed. Karen Jowers of the Military Times reports:
Soldiers experienced the highest increase of at-fault accidents, at 23%, compared with the drivers' experiences before the deployment. Marines experienced a 12.5% increase in at-fault accidents; sailors, 3%, and airmen, 2%.
Those who had deployed three or more times saw a 36% increase in at-fault accidents. Troops younger than 22 had the biggest increase in accidents, with a 25% increase, compared to a 7.5% increase in those older than 29.
The cause isn't necessarily PTSD, an expert in occupational therapy told Jowers. "Those with PTSD and TBI may indeed have these behaviors, but these are seen throughout the returning soldier population," the expert said. "We look at this as a reasonable carryover of ingrained maneuvers and anxieties. These are things that kept people alive."
These "things" are habits like speeding up to reduce time in transit and maneuvering away from heavy traffic--using shoulders of highways and into lanes of oncoming traffic to do so. "If you can picture being in gridlock here and then knowing the rule of thumb is to never sit next to one vehicle for more than a split second, you kind of think 'how would I get out of a situation like that,' even in the U.S?" an Iraq veteran, Retired Army Chief Master Sgt. Todd Nelson told The Houston Chronicle's Sig Christenson. "What drastic measures would I need to do to get out of that situation?"