Increased Risk of Fatal Road Crashes on Tax Day in the U.S.

Small, but significant increase yields risk equivalent to 13 individuals per average tax day

TUESDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- There is a small, but significant, increase in fatal road crashes on tax day in the United States, according to a letter published in the April 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

To investigate whether stressful deadlines impact the risk of road trauma, Donald A. Redelmeier, M.D., from the University of Toronto, and Christopher J. Yarnell, from the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, investigated the number of individuals involved in fatal road crashes on tax day. Road crash data from 1980 to 2009 were obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and tax deadline data were retrieved from the Internal Revenue Service. Controls were identified as the number of individuals involved in fatal road crashes the day one week before and one week after each tax day.

The researchers identified 6,783 individuals who were involved in fatal road crashes during 30 tax days (226 per day) and 12,758 on 60 control days (213 per day), yielding an odds ratio of 1.06 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.10). This corresponded with an absolute increase of 404 individuals in fatal road crashes on 30 tax days, or 13 individuals during an average tax day. The increased risk, which was most apparent in adults younger than 65 and in the last 20 years, was consistent across different regions, locations, hours, genders, initial outcomes, and when extended to passengers and pedestrians.

"Because this study lacked data on alcohol, stress, or driving patterns, future studies should evaluate the reasons for the increased risk as well as potential opportunities for intervention," the authors write.

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