Motorcyclists who venture under the full moon, be careful: the risk of having a fatal accident is higher, according to the investigators. Although the analysis of the link is unclear, researchers say there could be various possibilities, including that. The full moon could distract passengers, or control the speed of measurement.
“Our study implies that extra care is needed when driving a motorcycle under the full moon,” said Dr Donald Redelmeier, co-author of the University of Toronto investigation. The average ride for a motorcyclist “is more threatening than a drunk driver without a seatbelt travelling the same distance,” he continued. “Risk is one of those things that people can not notice until it’s too late, that’s why we require science about this.”
While motorcyclists face many disturbances on the roads, from wildlife to beautiful sunsets, the team states they choose to focus on the full moon because it is large, bright and can abruptly appear in the field of vision. Also, lunar events can be tracked merely. Redelmeier, who writes in the British Medical Journal, along with Eldar Shafir of Princeton University, explains how they examined 40 years of data on motorcycle deaths in the US.
In total, there were 494 full moons between the beginning of 1975 and the end of 2014, with 4,494 fatal accidents between the afternoon and the following morning in those days. To study if crashes were more common on those nights, the team examined the number of night accidents precisely one week before and one week after each full moon, when a half moon would be present. That, they note, ensured that the comparisons took into account some factors, including the weather, the year, the day of the week and even changes in the design of the roads and traffic levels.
The study results show that on average 9.1 crashes appeared on full moon nights, equated to just above 8.6 when the moon was not complete, meaning there was a 5% greater risk of collision. The result was maintained regardless of factors such as the time of year and decade, as well as the age of the motorcyclist, the size of the motor and if they used a helmet or not. “5% is a big problem when it comes to road safety,” said Redelmeier.
When the pair looked at 65 nights when the moon was, in fact, a supermoon, a phenomenon where it appears larger and brighter than a regular full moon, the result appeared even higher, with a 32% higher risk of a fatal accident compared to similar nights with a half moon and a 22% higher risk compared to a regular full moon.
Redelmeier believes that there are at least three possible explanations for the link between motorcycle fatalities and full moons, involving lighting effects created by the moon that can cause runners to misjudge their speed or a full moon It means that more riders could go to the roads. “A distinct probability is this idea of distraction, which when looking towards the full moon removes the view of the cyclist from the road and creates a moment of lack of attention that can lead to a lack of control,” he said. But, the authors note, the study had limitations, and not only that it only looked at motorcyclists and did not examine deaths on new moon nights.
David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge, said the study was interesting.