It goes without saying that Tax Day can be stressful. But according to a new study, that added stress can manifest itself in an unusual way: by increasing the occurrence of fatal motor vehicle accidents.
The study examined auto accident deaths on and around Tax Day over a 30-year period, comparing the number of fatalities that occurred one week before the tax filing deadline, on the Tax Day itself, and one week after the deadline. Researchers found that there were an average of 226 traffic deaths on Tax Day, as compared to 213 on the other days studied.
This amounted to a six percent increase in the traffic fatality rate on Tax Day. While an added 13 deaths nationwide does not seem like much, it means about a $40 million extra annual loss to society, considering the loss of life, injury and property damage costs.
Researchers are not completely certain of the reasons for the increase, but stress likely has something to do with it. People who are stressed are easily distracted, and tend to make more errors behind the wheel.
Another possible reason is extra motorists on the road who are driving unfamiliar routes – to the post office to mail their tax return, for example. However, the study did not indicate that the Tax Day fatality rate has declined in conjunction with the increasing popularity of electronic tax filing, so this may not be a significant factor.
When asked for a statement, a spokesperson for the IRS declined to comment on the study.
Source: The Huffington Post, “Deadly Car Crashes Spike By 6 Percent On Tax Day: Study,” Lindsey Tanner, April 10, 2012