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Study shows traffic fatalities increase on election days

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  • Christopher Miller
    An interesting study reported on by CBC today: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2008/09/30/elex-driving.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2008
      An interesting study reported on by CBC today:



      Driving deaths spike on election days: studyLast Updated: Tuesday,
      September 30, 2008 | 5:50 PM ET Comments23Recommend12CBC News
      Drivers and pedestrians face an increased risk of deadly motor vehicle
      collisions on election days, researchers reported Wednesday.

      The researchers thought voting day might result in more collisions,
      since between 50 to 55 per cent of the U.S. population may head out to
      cast a ballot, many in vehicles.

      To test the idea, Dr. Donald Redelmeier of the department of medicine
      at the University of Toronto and his co-author analyzed national data
      of fatal crashes for polling hours of all presidential elections from
      Jimmy Carter's in 1976 to George W. Bush in 2004. For each election,
      the same hours on the Tuesday immediately before and after were used
      as a control.

      Extrapolating the findings to Canada, he estimated that the Oct. 14
      federal election would lead to two or three additional deaths and 70
      to 80 more people with debilitating injuries across the country, all
      caused by motor vehicle collisions.

      "It's remarkably consistent across different regions and years and
      whether or not a Republican or Democrat gets elected," Redelmeier said.

      The higher election-day death rates, which occurred even among
      pedestrians, showed how bad driving habits are risky but could be
      prevented by changing driving behaviour, he added.

      The eight election days accounted for 1,265 individuals who were
      involved in fatal crashes — the equivalent to 158 per day or 13 per
      hour, Redelmeier and Robert Tibshirani of the department of health
      research and policy at Stanford University said in Wednesday's issue
      of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

      The 16 control days accounted for 2,152 individuals killed in
      collisions — the equivalent to 134 per day or 11 per hour, the
      researchers said.

      The findings translate to 1.18 times higher risk on election days, or
      on absolute increase of 189 individuals over the study period, or 24
      more people being killed and about another 800 being seriously injured
      on election day.

      "The increased risk of fatal motor vehicle crashes on presidential
      election days exceeds the risk on Super Bowl Sundays," the pair
      concluded. Redelmeie's previous research suggest the football event
      accounted for an average seven extra deaths each year.

      "Overall, the findings suggest the need for safety reminders to
      electioneers who encourage people to get out to vote."

      Increased traffic could explain the increased risk, but the
      researchers said other factors may contribute, such as:

      • Increases in average speed.
      • Poor attention to the road by distracted drivers.
      • Rerouting to unfamiliar routes.
      • Poorer enforcement by police.
      • Mobilizing unfit drivers.
      Poor attention and distraction may be a factor, agreed traffic safety
      manager George Smith of the Canada Safety Council. Some drivers may
      make last-minute voting decisions while behind the wheel, he said,
      commenting on the study.

      Subsidizing public transit, placing polls within walking distances,
      adopting tamper-proof remote voting or increasing traffic enforcement
      could help, along with standard advice to use seatbelts, avoid
      speeding, abstaining from alcohol and minimizing distractions, the
      pair suggested.

      One main limitation of the study is that the database left out
      information on speed and alcohol, so the researchers weren't able to
      tell whether these made a difference.

      The research was supported by the Canada Research Chair in Medical
      Decision Sciences, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the
      National Institutes of Health Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium and
      the patient safety service of Toronto's Sunnybrook Health Sciences

      With files from the Canadian Press


      Christopher Miller
      Montreal QC Canada
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