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Former Traffic Court Judge Serving New York and New Jersey

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Stress, fatigue, other factors cause six percent increase in road fatalities on tax day

If asked to name the days in which Americans are most likely to violate vehicle traffic laws or become involved in a fatal car crash, many people would likely cite the Super Bowl -- because of increased alcohol consumption -- Thanksgiving -- because of increased traffic on the road -- or Christmas -- because of increased chances of inclement weather.

While these are all good guesses that could perhaps be accurate, most people would fail to name tax day, meaning the last day to file individual income taxes with the IRS.

As it turns out, this much reviled day -- which falls on April 17 this year -- is one of the most deadly days on U.S. roads.

According to a recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Canadian researchers, fatal car crashes increase by as much as six percent on tax day.

Specifically, they examined tax deadline information provided by the IRS and fatal car crash data provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 1980 to 2009, comparing traffic fatalities from the 30 tax days with traffic fatalities on days one week before and one week after.

Their research indicated 213 fatal car wrecks for each of the 60 control days selected and 226 fatal car wrecks for each of the tax days selected.

"An increase of risk in this magnitude is about the same as what we observe on Super Bowl Sunday, a time notorious in the U.S. for drinking and driving," said Dr. Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto.

Redelmeier identified excess stress, alcohol abuse, lack of sleep and impatience on the road as the primary reasons for the bump in traffic fatalities on tax day -- not an increased number of cars making mad dashes to accountants and post offices.

Accordingly, he advises motorists to buckle up, abide by the speed limit, watch their alcohol intake, avoid distractions and drive rationally during tax day.

Stay tuned for more our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic citation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Source:

Bloomberg, "Death, Taxes Collide as Fatal Crashes Mount on Filing Day," Nicole Ostrow, April 10, 2012

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