Car crash risk rises on election days, study says
Death risk goes up 18 percent but that's no reason to skip polls, authors say
•By LINDSEY TANNER
updated 2:01 p.m. MT, Tues., Sept. 30, 2008
CHICAGO - Could voting for president be hazardous to your health?
An analysis of Election Day traffic deaths dating back to Jimmy Carter's 1976 win suggests yes, but the authors say that's no reason not to go to the polls.
The study found that on average, 24 more people died 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.
The results were pretty consistent on all eight presidential Election Days that were analyzed, up to George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry in 2004.
"This is one of the most off-the-wall things I've ever read, but the science is good," said Roy Lucke, senior scientist at Northwestern University's Center for Public Safety. He was not involved in the study, which appears in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association.
Rushing to get to polling places before or after work, driving on unfamiliar routes, and being distracted by thinking about the candidates were among possible reasons cited by the study's Canadian researchers.