Voting on Election Day could be hazardous to your health.
According to a new study published in the Journal of the Medical Association, it found that there has been a consistent increase in your risk of being involved in a car accident on Election Day since the Carter Administration.
According to CNN, the study found that “on average, 24 more people dies in car crashes during voting hours on presidential election days than on other October and November Tuesdays. That amounts to an 18 percent increased risk of death. And compared with non-election days, an additional 800 people suffered disabling injuries.”
“A couple of explanations that would account for the increased number of accidents,” said Dr. Donald Redelmeier, co-author of the study, and professor of medicine at the University of Toronto. Among the possible reasons cited by the researcher, he cited “added driving, increased speeds, changes in routine, heightened emotion, and decreased roadside policing.”
While busy streets and added drivers do effect the increased amount of accidents, Redelmeier cites other contributing factors.
“A more significant factor in the spike in accidents I believe would be the decreased roadside policing, on Election Day,” said Redelmeier. “The police themselves have to make time to vote, and don’t want to seem like they are interfering with the democratic process.”
Ellen Martin, spokeswomen for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, also commented on the issue.
“Although the researchers in the report used our data, we have not done a study ourselves” said Martin. “We don’t really have a comment on the findings of the researchers. That is not to say that their findings are incorrect, just that I’m not really at liberty to expand on their findings.”
In regards to the NHTSA’s findings, Martin said that “I can tell you that in 2007, Generally speaking, we find that most dangerous days of the year are in late July, early august, because more people are on the road, on vacation, etc. “
According to CNN.com, the researchers looked at traffic-related deaths during polling hours on presidential Election Days and the two Tuesdays before and afterward over the course of 30 years. In total, there were 3,417 total deaths, including 1,265 on election days. The Election Day average was 158, versus 134 on the other Tuesdays. The crashes involved drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
According to Redelmeier, “the study found an increased speeding on Election Days. There was roughly a 4 percent increase in speed, which would account for the 18 percent increase in motor vehicle accidents”
“At the start of our study, the United States had the safest roads in the world. However, by the end of our study, the U.S. fell behind most other industrialized countries in the world,” said Redelmeier. “In light of all of this, the next U.S. president might want to give more consideration to the more than 100 fatalities each day in the United States.”