Did you know there is one particularly dangerous time of day to vote? If not, you’re not alone. Neither did the celebrity panelists on the first episode of Tell Me Something I Don’t Know: Debora Spar, president of Barnard College of Columbia University and author of “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection,” Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library and former president of Amherst College and Andy Zaltzman, comedian, political satirist and host of The Bugle podcast.
Find out what other types of “Strange Danger” the audience contestants present to the panel and host Stephen J. Dubner, as they attempt to vie for the top prize.
In this episode the real-time fact-checker Jody Avirgan (who, as a host and producer of FiveThirtyEight, knows more than a little something about the election) is on hand to help sort out the true from the not-so-true.
Normally we’d make you listen to the podcast to learn the answer to the question about the perils of Election Day (aside from acute anxiety about the impeding end of civilization). But even though it will spoil a bit of the surprise, it’s important enough to reveal now: The most dangerous time of day to vote is between 4:00pm and 8:00pm.
According to contestant Dr. Donald Redelmeier (a friend of Freakonomics), this is “likely a combination between more driving, more rushing, more distractions, altered pathways and unfit motorists.” This all leads to about a 19% increase in life-threatening traffic fatalities on election days compared to the normal Tuesday in the United States. “That increase rolls over all parts of the country, extends to all recent decades, is significantly larger than the increase that occurs on New Year’s Eve,” Redelmeir tells the panel, “and also occurs regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican is eventually elected.”