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Veteran car accidents: causes and solutions

Last week we discussed the very serious problem of fatal car accidents involving Nashville veterans. Some veterans are twice as likely to die in a car accident than the general population. There are many causes of veteran car accidents including the propensity of veterans to speed, the failure of many veterans to wear seat-belts, and the anxiety that many veterans experience while driving.

One safety expert says that some veterans are unable to return to civilian driving after experiencing war-time driving for years. "The bottom line is, these men and women are taught to drive in Iraq and Afghanistan like madmen," said Chuck DeWeese, a Governor's Traffic Safety Committee member. "When they come back, driving is hard. They think they're invincible. They've gone through combat, they think they can live through anything."

Aggressive driving is just one issue that veterans may exhibit. Another issue is that many veterans experience residual fear when cars approach them quickly. An army study indicates that half of returning soldiers experienced anxiety from quickly approaching cars and about a fifth of all returning soldiers experienced anxiety during normal driving.

Brain injuries are another cause of many veteran crashes. An undetected brain injury may impair a veteran's driving ability and even cause blackouts behind the wheel. The Veterans Affairs Administration is collaborating with other federal agencies to promote safe driving habits among returning soldiers. Simulators are also being used to re-train veterans on how to drive upon returning. The simulators can help detect areas for improvement for brain injury victims.

Source: AOL News, "Tragedy On Wheels: Why Returning Vets Are In Frequent Car Crashes," Sharon Silke Carty, Oct. 13, 2011

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