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Research points to increase in fatal accidents on Tax Day

Tax Day, which falls on April 17 this year, can be stressful for many last-minute filers. But does it lead to an increase in fatal car accidents as well? The data seems to indicate “yes.”

Researchers took a look at data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1980 to 2009. Over the 30-year period, there was a total of 6,783 fatal car crashes on Tax Day. That’s an average of 226 per day, compared to 213 on a day the week before Tax Day and on a day the week after.

It might be impossible to draw a solid conclusion from this information, but it does seem to show that something is happening on Tax Day. Are drivers stressed out and not paying attention to the roads? What’s going on?

The researchers offer a number of possibilities. One is that drivers are anxious and speeding to the post office to mail their returns. However, it should be noted that the spike of traffic deaths on Tax Day holds up even now, when about 75 percent of people are filing electronically.

For those who still drive to the post office at the last minute, it’s possible that drivers are not familiar with where they are going. Data has shown that drivers get into accidents less when they are in a routine, such as commuting to work or dropping their child off at school. The more they drive to unfamiliar places, the more the risk increases.

It’s also possible, researchers say, that alcohol could be a factor such as on holidays like the 4thof July or on Election Day, according to the Huffington Post. In any case, it’s important to drive carefully, not just on Tax Day, but every day.

Source: Huffington Post, “Deadly car crashes spike by 6 percent on Tax Day: Study,” Lindsey Tanner, April 10, 2012

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