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Tax Day More Accident Prone, Study Says


It's that time of year again when last-minute tax filers rush to meet the deadline. As the dreaded tax deadline approaches, it becomes more important to remind oneself of the basic road safety practices like wearing a seat belt or helmet, not speeding and not drinking and driving.

Read on to find out why...

A new study, led by Donald Redelmeier, a professor in the Department of Medicine at University of Toronto, has found that U.S. motorists are more liable to fatal road crashes on income tax deadline day. This study is perhaps the first to test how tax deadlines might affect the immediate health of individuals.

The usual deadline for filing tax returns is April 15 of each year. But this year, with April 15 being a Sunday and April 16 observed as Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., the due date for filing tax returns is April 17.

According to the study, the risk of fatal crashes was as high as 6 percent on income tax deadline day than normal days. The finding was arrived at after sifting data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and examining the number of fatal crashes on each tax deadline day as well as the same weekday one week before and after over a period of thirty years, from 1980 through 2009.

Over the 30-year period, during the 30 tax deadline days and 60 control days, the number of individuals involved in fatal crashes totaled 19,541. Of this, the 30 tax deadline days accounted for 6,783 individuals, equivalent to 226 per day. However, during the 60 control days, the number of individuals involved in fatal crashes was 12,758, equivalent to 213 per day.

The study was published in the April issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.

Redelmeier attributes the surge in fatal road crashes on tax day to stressful deadlines leading to driver distraction and human error, sleep deprivation, lack of attention and less tolerance toward hassles. Another possibility for the increased road crash fatalities on tax days is the decreased law enforcement as the police, themselves, might be busy with their own tax deadlines, says Redelmeier.

The net losses due to fatal crashes on tax deadline days equate to about $40 million in societal costs, which is equal to the income tax payments of about 5,000 average Americans each year, said Redelmeier in a statement.

The study was supported by the Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Science and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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