June 14, 2012

Chaplain’s Corner: The Best Offense is a Good Defense

LCDR James Bradshaw
Command Chaplain

I have joked many times about being an “Offensive” driver. I would continue on by saying something like, “If I am in total control of my vehicle and know its limitations as well as its capabilities and drive alertly yet aggressively, I stand a better chance of avoiding an accident than a purely “defensive driver.”

There seems to be a number of OIF/ OEF vets returning to the states that are “offensive” drivers for a different reason: survival. Traffic Safety/Occupational experts have discovered many deployed troops learn very quickly to drive unpredictably on the wrong side of the road, through traffic signals, running without lights as fast as their 14,000 pound up armored Humvees will take them to avoid potential threats, such as IED’s.  Returning combat vets report, “My driving style and the way I was taught was to be purely 100% aggressive, this included ramming other vehicles to move them out of the way if seen as a potential threat.”

Fatal auto accidents are the #1 cause of death among post-deployed service members according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A just released study by USAA insurance found that troops coming off deployment had 13% more at-fault auto accidents in the 6 months following deployment compared to their time prior to deployment.Who are the most at risk? Young enlisted men E-1 to E-4.

Some recently returned servicemen and women have been struggling with typical every day road safety practices, such as stopping for stop signs, wearing seat belts or even driving in their own lane.  Why? Because those actions in a war zone can get you killed.

The warning signs are there.  It is up to all of us to take note and take care of each other.

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