Death & Taxes Go Hand in Hand

April 16, 2012

By Angie Moreschi:

We’ve all heard the famous, old Benjamin Franklin quote:  “In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”  Well, turns out, not only may that be true, but the two might be more intimately connected than we first realized.  A new study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests more people die in auto accidents on tax day than on other days of the year.

The authors write:  We investigated the number of individuals involved in a fatal road crash on tax day under the pre-specified hypothesis that stressful deadlines might increase the risk of road trauma by impairing drivers or by compromising surrounding individuals from making compensatory adjustments.

They gathered data from the Internal Revenue Service and fatal road crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for the past three decades (1980-2009).  The results according to the Harvard Health Blog showed that of more than 19,000 deaths analyzed, an average of 226 people died as a result of motor vehicle accidents on tax days, compared to 213 on other days.

The authors offered a few possible explanations for the increase in fatalities: the stress of tax day causing more distracted drivers; the idea of paying your taxes may lead to more drinking and driving; and the possibility that bleary eyed taxpayers are just more tired from staying up late and doing their taxes.

Dr. Robert Shmerling at Harvard Health Publications offered a few additional thoughts: People may drive more recklessly on tax day while rushing to post offices to mail their returns. There could simply be more people on the road on tax day due to tax preparation and mailing. Or maybe the findings are due to chance.

I guess this new study makes a case for avoiding that last minute rush to the Post Office and electronically filing your return with the IRS.  Either way, paying your taxes may feel like its killing you, especially in this economy, but here’s hoping you have a safe day.