A good reason not to vote

So you’ve decided not to vote this November. You’ve explained to your friends that you don’t like the candidates, that you don’t think there’s a dime’s worth of difference between them, that you’re fed up with the system and don’t want anything else to do with it.

Your friends scoffed, as they will. Perhaps if you tell them that you’re trying to save your life:

Sunnybrook researcher Dr. Donald Redelmeier and Stanford University statistician Robert Tibshirani have found an increased risk of fatal motor vehicle crashes on United States (US) presidential election days.

“We thought efforts that mobilize about 55 per cent of the population to vote, along with US reliance on motor vehicle travel, might result in increased fatal motor vehicle crashes during US presidential elections,” says Redelmeier, lead investigator of the study and staff physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, “indeed, we found a significant increase in traffic deaths on election days.”

The investigation looked at all US presidential election days over the last 32 years, from Jimmy Carter in 1976 to George Bush in 2004, during the hours of polling. They also looked at the same hours on the Tuesday immediately before and immediately after as control days. Their main finding was that the average presidential election led to about 24 deaths from motor vehicle crashes.

Explanations for the increased risk include speed, distance, distraction, emotions, unfamiliar pathways traveling to polls, and the potential mobilization of unfit drivers. “A 4 per cent increase in average driving speed,” says Redelmeier, “would be sufficient by itself to account for the 18 per cent observed increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes.”

The press release is here; the complete results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association (10/1/08).

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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