Apr 15, 2015 11:15 AM

Author: Hillary Brown

Drivers seem to have lost their minds. The kid’s screams get louder by the minute. Your hair is actually more grey than it was yesterday and the thought of filling up your gas tank makes you cry a little inside.

It’s arrived—Tax Day.

Today your bank account might take a slight hit, but better your bank account than your car. A recent study by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed an increase in fatal car accidents on tax day due to financial stress. The two highest stress-causers for adults in the United States are finances and work—making today one of the most stressful deadlines for millions of people all over the country.

But how much does stress really affect your driving? Well, after analyzing fatal road crashes over the past thirty or so years from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, JAMA found that almost 20,000 fatal crashes happened within thirty days of Tax Day. When comparing crash statistics on tax days to other days of the year they found an increase of 404 fatalities.

The stress is real, and it affects people’s everyday lives in multiple ways. It can lead to an increase of alcohol consumption, sleep deprivation, irritability and difficulty focusing—but how stress is actually defined or measured isn’t exactly an easy answer. 

“What causes stress is an individual thing. Something that is stressful for one person may not be stressful for another,” said Mary Talboys, licensed clinical social worker at the University of Utah School of Medicine. 

Stress affects each individual differently, but all of these issues have the potential to be fatal when paired with someone behind a wheel. 

Today’s goal: lower your stress levels! And maybe stay home with a glass of wine. But, if staying home is not an option, here are a few tips for keeping your stress levels low, and thus the safety of yourself and those around you a priority.

Hillary Brown

Hillary Brown is a contributing writer for the Office of Public Affairs at the University of Utah Health Care.

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