Science-- there's something for everyone

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tax day may affect your driving

Here’s something I wish I’d known a few days ago. According to Donald Redelmeier and Christopher Yarnell of the University of Toronto, the number of fatal road crashes increases on U.S. income tax day, which falls around April 15th.

The researchers used three decades of fatal crash data, provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to reach their conclusion. They compared the number of crashes on income tax day with the number of crashes one week before and after (this year, April 10th and 24th). Thus, all data was for the same season and day of the week.

Over the thirty year span, an average of 13 extra people died on the roads each year on tax day than do on other days. This increase in fatalities is comparable to that of Super Bowl Sunday, which occurs at the beginning of February.

So why is tax day so dangerous? One possibility is that tax day is extremely stressful for many people. Also, people may be more distracted or sleep deprived if they’ve had a late night of filing. They may be more irritable or less patient with other drivers or pedestrians. Whatever the reason, people clearly are not at their best on tax day and it shows in their driving.