Road traffic accidents in Scottish military veterans
Abstract Road traffic accidents (RTA) are recognised to be an important cause of death and injury in serving military personnel but little is known about the risk in veterans. We used data from the Scottish Veterans Health Study to examine the risk of RTA in a large national cohort of veterans, in comparison with people who had never served. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of 57,000 veterans and 173,000 non-veterans, followed up for up to 30 years, using survival analysis to compare risk of RTA injury. Subgroup analysis was used to explore trends by birth cohort and length of service. Overall, veterans had a higher risk of RTA (Cox proportional hazard ratio (HR) 1.17, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.14–1.20). The risk was highest in the veterans with the shortest service (early service leavers), including those who did not complete initial military training (HR 1.31, 95% CI 1.23–1.40). The mean age at first RTA was 34 years, irrespective of age at leaving service, and the greatest increase in risk was in veterans born in the 1960s, but veterans born after 1970 showed no increase in risk. We have therefore demonstrated that the increased risk of RTA observed in serving military personnel persists in veterans through the fourth decade of life. The high risk in early service leavers is likely to be related to risk factors other than military service, including previous childhood adversity. Recent Ministry of Defence road safety programmes may now be reducing the long-term risk of RTA injury. Highlights Serving personnel are at increased risk of RTA, and more likely to be risky drivers, but the risk in veterans is unknown. We have shown an increased risk in veterans through to the fourth decade of life, irrespective of time since leaving service. Veterans born after 1970 are not at increased risk; recent Ministry of Defence road safety initiatives may be proving effective.
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