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Tax Day Hazardous To Health, Study Finds

A new study suggests April 15 may not be the best day to drive . (jenineabarbanel/flickr)
A new study suggests April 15 may not be the best day to drive . (jenineabarbanel/flickr)

But Karen Weintraub, writing the Daily Dose blog today reports that tax day can be very bad for your physical health — and life — particularly when driving.

Looking at 30-years of car accident data, a University of Toronto professor has found that April 15 (or whatever weekday taxes were due that year) is substantially more dangerous than the same weekday a week earlier or later.

Roughly 13 more people die in road crashes on tax day than other days, according to the research published in the April 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Deadline stress was probably a key factor in these extra deaths, said Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier, who led the study and whose research was the first to reveal the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone.

“Our main finding is that stressful deadlines can contribute to driving errors that can contribute to fatal crashes,” he said. “We use tax day to learn something about stress that may be relevant 365 days a year.”

Passengers and pedestrians are also more likely to die on tax day, Redelmeier said, though it’s not clear whether – for pedestrians – that’s because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or – for passengers – because the car they were in was driven or struck by someone distracted by stress.

“We believe that almost every fatal crash could have been avoided by a small change in driver behavior,” said Redelmeier, who also practices medicine at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. More than 93 percent of accidents are caused by human error, rather than mechanical failure or roadway problems, he said.

Basic safety practices like wearing a seatbelt, obeying the speed limit, restricting alcohol use, minimizing distractions, and driving with care, save lives, he said.

This program aired on April 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Rachel Zimmerman Twitter Health Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for Bostonomix.

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