There are More Fatal Motorcycle Crashes on a Full Moon, and it’s Even Worse on a Supermoon

There are More Fatal Motorcycle Crashes on a Full Moon, and it’s Even Worse on a Supermoon


This is for all of you who think that astrological movements don’t affect our lives…

The full moon is associated with an increased risk of fatal motorcycle crashes in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, finds a study in the Christmas issue of The BMJ.

The researchers say their findings might encourage motorcyclists to ride with extra care during a full moon and, more generally, to appreciate the power of seemingly minor distractions at all times.

Motorcycle crashes are a common cause of death worldwide. Motorcyclists are over-represented in collision statistics in Ireland: they represent less than 2% of licensed vehicles but 10% of road deaths. Motorcyclists are six times more likely to be killed on Irish roads than any other road user.

In the United States, they account for nearly 5,000 deaths every year – one in seven total road traffic deaths.

Donald Redelmeier at the University of Toronto and Eldar Shafir at Princeton University, set out to test whether a full moon might contribute to motorcycle-related deaths.

They analysed data from the official United States registry of motor vehicle crashes from 1975 to 2014, and calculated the number of fatal crashes on full moon nights compared with control nights (exactly one week before and one week after the full moon).

A total of 13,029 people were in a fatal motorcycle crash during the 1,482 separate nights (494 full moon nights, 988 control nights). The typical motorcyclist was a middle-aged man (average age 32 years) riding a street bike in a rural location who experienced a head-on frontal impact and was not wearing a helmet.

Overall, 4,494 fatal crashes occurred on the 494 nights with a full moon, equal to 9.10 per night, and 8,535 on the 988 control nights without a full moon, equal to 8.64 per night. This gave an absolute total increase of 226 additional fatal crashes over the study period, meaning for every two full moon nights, there was one additional fatal crash.

Similar results were found after analyses of data from the UK, Canada and Australia.

This increased risk was accentuated under a supermoon. Of the 494 full moon nights, 65 were a supermoon night (where the moon appears larger and brighter than a regular full moon). A total of 703 fatal crashes occurred on a supermoon night, equal to 10.82 per night – about two additional deaths on a night with a supermoon.

This is an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but how can this not get us thinking?

If we can take away anything from this, it is that if you are using the roads on a full moon, you need to be extra careful.


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