Death and taxes: Study finds a new link

By Barbara Marquand on May 3rd, 2012

Tax day is even more dreadful than you imagined.

A new study shows you're at greater risk of dying in a car crash on the IRS tax filing deadline than on other days.

Canadian researchers reviewed 30 years of fatal road crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They counted the number of deaths on tax day, which falls each year around April 15, and compared the average to the average number of crash deaths on days one week before and one week after tax day.

They found that an average 226 people died each year in vehicle crashes on tax days from 1980 to 2009 -- 13 more than the average 213 on the other days.

The study, conducted by Dr. Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto and Christopher Yarnell of the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, was published in the April 11 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Tax payments influence the long-term health of the economy, but no study has tested how [the] tax deadline might affect the immediate health of individuals," the authors wrote.

This study didn't explore why tax day is deadly, but the authors suggested that stressful deadlines might distract drivers and lead them to make mistakes behind the wheel. They also speculated that sleep deprivation, alcohol consumption or altered driving patterns might play roles. Other studies should evaluate why the risk increases on tax day and look at ways to mitigate the dangers, they concluded.

The 2013 tax deadline falls on a Monday, April 15.

So, next tax deadline, don't let financial worries and the pressure to file steer you off course. Pay close attention to the road to avoid accidents. Besides saving lives, safe driving helps keep your car insurance rates down.

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