We aren’t big believers in superstition at STAT, and so to mark this year’s sole Friday the 13th, we decided to see what science had to say about the holiday. It turns out that a small number of slightly tongue-in-cheek studies have actually looked at whether you’re more likely to get struck by ill health or injury on that fateful date. Here’s what they’ve found:
1. You probably won’t end up in the ER — unless you’re really unlucky
There’s no increased risk of ending up in the emergency room on Friday the 13th compared to other days, according to a 2012 study of six hospitals over seven years. The conclusion held up for all but one of the 13 illnesses and injuries the researchers examined.
Although likely just a false positive, the one exception was a bit creepy: On Friday the 13th, penetrating traumas (a la those of the killer in the movie of the same name) were more common.
2. Driving on Friday the 13th might actually be safer …
Dutch insurers receive about 300 fewer reports of traffic accidents when Fridays fall on the 13th compared to other Fridays, a 2008 study found. Reports of fire were also down.
3. … or maybe not
Finnish women are more likely die in traffic accidents on Friday the 13th compared to other Fridays, a 2002 study found. And as many as a third of those deaths, the study postulates, may be driven by anxiety and subsequent driving errors stemming from phobia around the date.
But don’t get too worried: There are so few people involved here that the difference only amounts to a tiny number of lives lost. “Prospects for significant public health gains are limited,” the researcher admitted.
4. Ah, who even knows?
For residents in one British region, the risk of being admitted to the hospital due to transportation accidents was 52 percent higher on Friday the 13th compared to the previous Friday, according to a 1993 study based on five years of data. “Staying at home is recommended,” the authors concluded.
The upshot of all of this? Exercise normal caution today. Don’t worry too much. And be wary, always, of false positives and overblown results.