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Death and Taxes, Literally

by Ashwin Bhandari
A A
tax road sign
401k, flickr

Researcher says Tax Day may increase the rate of fatal crashes.

April 17th is Tax Day and one medical researcher says drivers need to keep their eyes on the road.

After analyzing 30-years of car crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Dr. Donald Redelmeier and his team say fatal crashes increase 6-percent on Tax Day. He said the stress over the looming deadline increases driver error. Redelmeier said even if you've filed your taxes early, you're still not alone on the road. "It does not immunize you from this situation, because you share the road with other drivers."

The University of Toronto team compared the number of fatal accidents on Tax Day with the numbers one week before and one week later. They discovered a 6% increase of fatal accidents than on non-tax days. 

While Redelmeier gave a few reasons for the increased fatalities, he said it's most likely the stress of the looming deadline leads to driver error. He pointed out that the United States tax code is twice as long as Canada's and almost ten times as long as France's. 

The IRS said more people are filing their taxes online every year. Presumbably, that would pull drivers off the road and park them in front of their computer. However Redelmeier said the convenience of filing taxes online makes taxpayers complacent. "Ironically, electronic filing may inadvertantly encourage people to leave filing until the last minute. It's a major stressful deadline."

Redelmeier's previous research saw other big days on the calendar like Election Day and Super Bowl Sunday also lead to a spike in fatal crashes.

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