Tax Day Is Deadly For Drivers: Be Careful Out There

April 16, 2012
Tax day

Tax day

If you're an early filer, you might've forgotten that tomorrow is tax day.

That could be a deadly mistake.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tax day is dangerous for drivers, with 6% more traffic fatalities than on other days. The study was led by Dr. Donald Redelmeier -- which is tad ironic, since he's based at the University of Toronto's Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation and doesn't pay U.S. taxes.

Redelmeier and his team looked at traffic-related fatalities on tax days from 1980 to 2009, then compared those numbers to fatality stats a week before and a week after tax days. They found that there were an average of 213 U.S. traffic fatalities on "normal" days, but 226 on tax days -- a statistically significant increase of 13.

Why the jump? Redelmeier doubts that the increase of fatalities on tax day is related to cars frantically circling post offices. If that were the problem, he should've seen the numbers slip downward over time, due to the increasingly common practice of e-filing. But that's not been the case.

Researchers now theorize that the generalized stress of tax day is the underlying problem, not the specific act of filing taxes. Yes, there'll be some frantic drivers rushing to mailboxes today, but even those who drive safely may be a bit distracted, thinking about the debt they owe Uncle Sam.

It might seem that Redelmeier's study blames the IRS for the problem and argues for an end to tax day (and presumably taxes). However, in the L.A. Times, he says that's not the case. After all, without tax dollars, emergency services would suffer, and there'd likely be even more fatalities on the roads than there are now.

All we know for sure is: as long as there's a tax deadline, there's a good chance we'll continue to see an uptick in traffic fatalities on tax day. No two ways about it.

Here's wishing you an entirely uneventful day. Drive carefully out there, and steer clear of post offices if you can. 

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