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Published April 14, 2012, 11:30 PM

Hot topics: Deaths higher on tax day

Benjamin Franklin once said there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Now, researchers have found that taxes might make death just a little more certain.

By: Source: L.A. Times, INFORUM

Benjamin Franklin once said there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Now, researchers have found that taxes might make death just a little more certain.

Deaths from traffic accidents rise 6 percent on tax day, that mid-April paroxysm of collective financial agony, according to a study published in Wednesday’s edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A pair of Canadian researchers tallied up U.S. tax day traffic fatalities for each year between 1980 and 2009, then compared the figures to those from two “control” days, exactly one week before and one week after. On average, they found, there were 226 deaths on tax day – 13 more than on non-tax days.

The rise in e-filing – which would presumably keep procrastinators from speeding recklessly to the nearest post office – doesn’t appear to have put a dent in the trend, said Dr. Donald Redelmeier of the University of Toronto’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, who led the study.

Perhaps that’s because the heightened danger involves more than a deadline dash to a mailbox. Stress is a likely culprit, Redelmeier said: In general, most accidents are the result of human error, not mechanical failure, and stress has been shown to significantly worsen performance behind the wheel.

About 20 percent to 25 percent of American taxpayers file their returns within the last two weeks before the deadline, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

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