fatal • full moon • Motorcyclists

In a new find, it has been revealed that motorcyclists are more likely to suffer a fatal crash while riding under the lights of the full moon. As per the study, full moons might cause distractions for the bikers traveling under the dark sky during the night. Co-author of the study Dr. Donald Redelmeier said, ‘Our study suggests that extra care is needed when riding a motorcycle under a full moon.”

As per the researchers, motorcyclists do get distracted by wildlife or beautiful sunsets, but in case of full moon, they get distracted more because it is big, bright and can suddenly pop into the field of view. According to the study, momentary distractions are a common cause of road traffic deaths. Around five thousand people die every year due to motorcycle crashes in the United States, and a full might be contributing factor for the momentary distraction of bikers which leads to fatal accidents.

To find out whether full moon causes fatal motorcycle crashes, Donald Redelmeier and his colleague Eldar Shafir of Princeton University decided to collect data about a number of deaths occurring from motorcycle crashes. They analyzed 40 years of data on motorcycle deaths across the US from the official United States registry. They found out that, in between 1975 to 2014, a total of 13,029 people were involved in a fatal motorcycle crash during 1,482 separate nights. Out of these 1,482 separate nights, 494 were full moon nights that saw 4,494 fatal motorcycle crashes. The researchers revealed that on an average, 9.1 fatal crashes took place on full moon night as compared to 8.64 crashes that occurred on controlled nights when there was no full moon. That means there was a five percent greater risk of a fatal motorcycle accident on a full moon night than on a normal moon night. Redelmeier said, “5% is a great big deal when it comes to road safety.”

Apart from that, the researchers also looked at those 65 nights when Super moon took place and wanted to know what impact does a super moon has on the motorcyclists. They found out that the risk of a fatal crash on Supermoon night increases to 32% when compared with half moon nights and to 22 % when compared with regular full moon nights. As this is an observational study, so the researchers are not fully confirming the relation of full moons with fatal motorcycle crashes. But, the study has advised motorcyclists to be extra careful on full moon nights. “Additional strategies while riding might include wearing a helmet, activating headlights, scanning the road surface for defects, respecting the weather, being wary of left turning vehicles, obeying traffic laws and forgoing stunts,” the researchers said.

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