According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the likelihood of getting into a fatal car accident increases on tax filing day. Researchers examined a database of 6,783 fatal traffic accidents that occurred in the United States over the last 30 years on April 15, and compared these numbers to the number of fatal car crashes that occurred on the same day the week before and the week after taxes were due.
Although the risk of being involved in a fatal car accident on tax day is relatively small, it is slightly higher than on other days. Researchers found that an average of 226 fatal car accidents occur on tax day, compared to 213 on the other days, which is a six percent increase. The increased risk was most prevalent for people under the age of 65.
According to Dr. Donald Redelmeier, the study’s lead author, tax day is about as risky on the roads as Super Bowl Sunday. Redelmeier has also reported similar increases in fatal car accidents during polling hours on presidential election days compared to other Tuesdays around the same time.
Although the authors were unable to point to a definitive cause for the increased risk, research indicates that “stressful deadlines lead to driver distraction and human error.” In addition, the authors said that the heightened risk does not just apply to late filers, emphasizing that everyone is at risk throughout the day because of the shared nature of most roadway crashes.