BALTIMORE, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Nearly half of military personnel involved in motor vehicle crashes in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan from 2002-2006 were in Humvees, U.S. researchers said.
Principal investigator Keshia Pollack of The Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues examined the risk factors for injuries to U.S. military personnel from crashes involving highly mobile multipurpose wheeled vehicles, or HMMWVs, better known as Humvees.
The study, published in the journal Military Medicine, found involvement in combat and serving as the vehicle's operator or gunner posed the greatest risk for injury.
U.S. Department of Army motor vehicle crashes -- both privately owned and military vehicles -- account for nearly one-third of all U.S. military fatalities annually and are among the top five causes of hospitalization for military personnel, Pollack said.
"The finding that the odds of being injured when the crash occurred in combat indicates that in a high-stress situation, the soldier may be distracted or less likely to take self-protective measures or follow safety regulations," study co-author Susan P. Baker, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a statement. "As motor vehicle crashes are responsible for one-third of all U.S. military deaths annually, it's imperative that significant measures be taken to save lives."