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Risk of motor vehicle accident death among 1.3 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

Article

This article considers a cohort study of recent wartime veterans to determine the postservice mortality risk due to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs).  It was found that veterans exhibit significantly higher risk of MVA deaths compared to the U.S. general population. However, deployment to the Iraq or Afghanistan war was not associated with the excess risk.

Abstract

Objective: We conducted a cohort study of recent wartime veterans to determine the postservice mortality risk due to motor vehicle accidents (MVAs). Methods: Veterans were identified from the Defense Manpower Data Center records. Deployment to te Iraq or Afghanistan war zone was determined from the Contingency Tracking System. Vital status of 317,581 deployed and 964,493 nondeployed veterans was followed from their discharge dates between 2001 to 2007 until earlier of date of death or December 31, 2009. Underlying causes of death were obtained from the National Death Index Plus. Results: Based on 9,353 deaths (deployed, 1,650; nondeployed, 7,703), of which 779 were MVA deaths as drivers (166; 613), both cohorts had 25 to 24% lower mortality risk from all causes but had 44 to 45% higher risk of MVA deaths relative to the U.S. general population. The higher MVA mortality risk was not associated with deployment to the war zone. After controlling for age, sex, race, marital status, branch of service, and rank, the risk for deployed veterans was comparable to that of nondeployed veterans (hazard ratio = 0.91; 95% confidence interval, 0.77–1.09). Conclusions: Veterans exhibit significantly higher risk of MVA deaths compared to the U.S. general population. However, deployment to the Iraq or Afghanistan war was not associated with the excess risk.

Full Reference

Bullman, T.A., Kang, H.K., Smolenski, D.J., Skopp, N.A., Gahm, G.A., Reger, M.A., 2017. Risk of motor vehicle accident death among 1.3 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Traffic Injury Prevention, 18(4), pp.369-374.