Veterans at High Risk for Traffic Fatalities

Approximately 6,400 adults are injured in car accidents every single day, according to information released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Motor vehicle crashes are also the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 and 34.

Perhaps more startling is the revelation that veterans are twice as likely as non-veterans to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash. These accidents are the primary cause of death among veterans in the first several years after they return home from their deployments.

The most likely reason for this is that in their time in the military they are taught not to use seatbelts. However, in the civilian world, seatbelt use is the single most effective way to prevent injuries and deaths. Studies show seatbelts reduce major injuries and deaths in auto accidents by about 50 percent, and that wearing helmets will significantly improve motorcycle safety.

Here are some steps veterans can take to reduce their risk of being involved in a motorcycle accident, beyond just abiding by all traffic and work zone signs in Vermont:

  • Eliminate distractions: Put away the phone. Texting while driving or even talking on a phone while driving greatly increases the chance you will be involved in an accident. Military drivers are often multitasking behind the wheel, but this is highly dangerous in a civilian environment and needlessly elevates the risk of an accident.
  • Know your body: Older drivers who have conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, strokes or other medical issues tend to have slower reaction times, decreased motor skills and reduced sensation in the hands and feet. If you suffer from any of these types of conditions, talk to a physician about how you can manage them while driving so you know the best ways to stay safe while out on the road.
  • Consider your medications: Veterans often take a wide variety of medications beyond those just for their physical ailments. Antidepressants and medication to assist with post-traumatic stress are common among veterans. Some of these types of drugs are heavier than others, and can have an effect on your driving abilities, so make sure you consider the types of drugs you’re taking and if there’s a chance they could affect your safety behind the wheel before you actually begin driving.
  • Never drive while impaired: You should never get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medications, or get into a car with a driver who is impaired in any way. This is just asking to be involved in a serious accident.

Many of the issues that lead to veteran deaths in greater numbers are safety issues that also apply to civilians who never served, but it can take a little bit of a transition and adjustment period to get used to these concerns again after getting out of a combat zone. For more information about vehicle safety tips for veterans, contact Worksafe Traffic Control Industries, a longtime provider of traffic and construction zone signs in Vermont.

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