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Road Traffic Accidents High on Presidential Election Days

Risk of fatal accident exceeds that of Super Bowl Sundays

TUESDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- There are more fatal road traffic accidents on the days of U.S. presidential elections than usual, and the increase is even greater than that of Super Bowl Sundays, according to a research letter published in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Donald A. Redelmeier, M.D., of the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, and Robert J. Tibshirani, Ph.D., of Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., analyzed data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System on fatal crashes between 1975 and 2006. They studied the incidence of fatal crashes during polling hours on each of the presidential election Tuesdays and used the Tuesdays immediately before and after the election as control days.

During polling days for eight presidential elections and the 16 control days, there were 3,417 individuals involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States, the investigators found. The eight election days accounted for 1,265 of the deaths (or 158 per day), versus 2,152 deaths (or 134 per day) on the control days, the data revealed. There was an 18 percent increased risk of fatal traffic accidents on election days versus control days, the researchers report.

"Overall, the findings suggest the need for safety reminders by electioneers who encourage people to get out the vote," the authors write. "Other interventions could be subsidized public transportation, voting centers within walking distances, tamper-proof remote voting, or more traffic enforcement on election day."

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