Full moons can increase likelihood of fatal motor bike crashes

Research conducted by the University of Toronto suggests that bikers are distracted by the moon's "wonderment", which could lead them to take their eyes off the road. "Risk is one of those things that people cannot notice until it's too late, that's why we require science about this".

To analyse whether crashes were more common on such nights, the team looked at the number of nighttime crashes exactly one week before and one week after each full moon, when a half moon would be present.

The light of a full moon can be risky.

While motorcyclists face many disturbances on the roads, from wildlife to handsome 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. "A full moon is infrequent and spectacular, thereby creating a natural distraction".

They found 4,994 fatal crashes occurred on the nights with a full moon, which is equal to 9.10 crashes per night. Other major factors are not wearing a helmet and road defects. The result held regardless of factors including the time of year and decade as well as the motorcyclist's age, engine size, and whether or not they used a helmet. That means that for every seven road traffic deaths, one is motorcycle related, Redelmeier said. "In particular, glancing at it takes the motorcyclist's gaze off the road, which could result in loss of control". The study found 703 fatal crashes occurred in the U.S. on the 65 supermoon nights (with increased brightness and larger apparent size), equal to 10.82 per night.

Many people believe a full moon causes chaos and unusual behavior. 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.

"Drivers face a number of distractions behind the wheel - from texting, to phone calls to road obstructions and more", said study co-author Eldar Shafir, the Class of 1987 Professor in Behavioral Science and Public Policy and professor of psychology and public affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

And it's even worse on a supermoon - which happen around five times a year - with the chances of a deadly crash rising by 27 per cent. "But maybe it's simply because 5% more of these idiotic ageing juveniles go for a spin on a nice bright night?"

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