Yesterday the British Medical Journal published a 6.000 word monograph titled. “The full moon and motorcycle related mortality: population based double control study.”
The study by Donald Redelmeier, professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, and Eldar Shafir, professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton University was intended to scientifically determine if it is more dangerous to ride a motorcycle on full moon nights. It is. Slightly.
The authors looked at 13.029 fatal, motorcycle crashes in the United States between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. on 1482 nights from January 1, 1975 through December 31, 2014. There were 4494 fatal crashes on the 494 nights with a full moon and 8535 on 988 control nights. They found you are about five percent more likely to die on a full moon night than other nights.
“The increase extended to diverse types of motorcyclists, vehicles, and crashes; was accentuated during a supermoon; and replicated in analyses from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.”
Over the four decades, there were an average 9.10 crashes per night during a full moon and 8.64 crashes per night on nights without a full moon.
“The full moon is associated with an increased risk of fatal motorcycle crashes,” the study concluded, “although potential confounders cannot be excluded. An awareness of the risk 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.”
Wolf Moon Next
Redelmeier and Shafir blame the fatal increase on people’s attraction to beauty. They theorize that riders are more inclined to take their eyes off the road to glance at a full moon. That also explains why supermoons, which are larger and brighter than other full moons are particularly deadly.
The next full Moon in the United States will be the so-called Wolf Moon on January second. It will also be a supermoon.
You can read the entire study here.