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National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention


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Be Safe Prevent Motor Vehicle Crashes

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in Veterans in the early years after returning from deployment.

What's Important to Know?

Driving impaired by sleep loss or by drugs or alcohol causes more than half of all motor vehicle crashes. Don't drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or when severely sleep-deprived or ride with somebody who is.

Your military experiences may have "taught" you not to use seat belts. But in civilian driving, we know seat belts can reduce your and your loved ones' chances of injury or death from a motor vehicle crash. And wear a helmet if you drive a motorcycle even if your state's laws do not require it.

Don't text message or talk on a cell phone while driving.

Don't do other activities such as reading, eating, grooming (combing/brushing hair), or applying make-up while driving.

As you get older, certain medical conditions (e.g., Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, stroke, diabetes, etc.), and certain medications can put you at risk for motor vehicle crashes by slowing down reaction times and decreasing sensation in your feet. Talk to your provider about driving capability or performance.

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Want to Know More?


Impaired driving
driving while drunk, high, stoned, tipsy, under the influence of alcohol, drugs, mind-altering substances, and some prescription medications.
Distracted driving
any activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

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  1. The Guide to Community Preventive Services
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Healthfinder: A Quick Guide to Reliable Information on Healthy Living and Other Topics
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH): National Library of Medicine (NLM):Motor Vehicle Safety
  4. Center for Disease Control (CDC):Motor Vehicle Safety