Tax Day Road Risk

Be careful on the roads tomorrow.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that U.S. motorists are more prone to fatal road crashes on income tax deadline day than normal days.

Conducted by researchers at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto and the University of Toronto, the study used road safety information for the U.S. from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 30 years (1980 through 2009).

Researchers examined the number of fatal crashes on each tax deadline day as well as the same weekday one week before and after to control for prevailing risks.

They found that a total of 19,541 individuals were involved in fatal crashes during the 30 tax days and 60 control days. The 30 tax days accounted for 6,783 fatalities, equivalent to 226 per day. In contrast, the 60 control days accounted for 12,758 fatalities, equivalent to 213 per day.

The upshot: the risk of traffic fatality was 6 percent higher on income tax deadline day.

The increased risk on tax day included passengers and pedestrians and extended across different regions, daylight hours, demographic groups, and alcohol consumption.

In the words of Sunnybrook researcher Dr. Donald Redelmeier:

The increased risk could be the result of stressful deadlines leading to driver distraction and human error. Other possibilities might be more driving, sleep deprivation, lack of attention, and less tolerance toward hassles.†

According to the authors, these risks could be mitigated by some simple measures such as reminders about the importance of safe driving, such as the need to wear seatbelts, avoid excessive speed, minimize distractions and avoid alcohol.

More on this story at the Wall Street Journal’s Driver’s Seat blog.

Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on highway safety.

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